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Hoda Kotb Says Her Cancer Had This Heartbreaking Side Effect

The news felt "impossible to hear," she remembers.

A prominent broadcast journalist and TV personality, Hoda Kotb is best known as the main co-anchor on the NBC News morning show Today. But at age 43, just months before she started the job that would make her a household name, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In a recent interview, Kotb shared the lasting, and heartbreaking, side effect of her treatment—one that would change the course of her life.

Read on to find out why Kotb's cancer treatment had such a profound effect on her, and how she overcome the complication to live the life of her dreams.

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Kotb discovered she had cancer after her very first mammogram.

Hoda Kotb
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

At the time of her diagnosis, Kotb was hosting the NBC show Your Total Health, a series that aimed to raise awareness about various health issues. At the time, she had never gotten a mammogram to screen for breast cancer. "I just didn't do it," Kotb later said on Today. "I wasn't scared of it. I ask people all the time why they haven't gotten checked for various things, and here I was not getting screened."

When her mammogram revealed a mass in her breast, she worked with doctors to form a treatment plan, which included a double mastectomy with reconstruction and a five-year course of the cancer drug tamoxifen. Soon after her procedure, her cancer went into remission.

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Her treatment had this devastating side effect.

Hoda Kotb
Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Glamour

Though her treatment was effective in combating her cancer, it had one serious side effect that would change her life forever. The star learned that she would not be able to have biological children, something she had long hoped to do.

"I remember that my oncologist called and we were talking about freezing my eggs. She basically said that given my age and [my breast cancer treatment], it was pretty close to a dead end," Kotb told Good Housekeeping in March.

"I was in my room and I just sobbed. I thought, 'Well, that's that, isn't it?' Like, you almost blame yourself. 'Why didn't I do this? Why didn't I do that?' So I just pushed it away, because the reality seemed impossible to bear," she said. "How do you survive knowing you can't have what you desire and what you feel like you actually physically need?"

Kotb went on to adopt two children.

Hoda Kotb Savannah Guthrie
Steven Ferdman/WireImage via Getty Images

However, Kotb's story didn't end there. The star decided to pursue another path to parenthood with the help of her then-fiance Joel Schiffman (the pair have since announced their split). The TV anchor adopted two daughters, Haley and Hope Kotb, now four and two years old.

Speaking with Good Housekeeping, Kotb shared that she reached out to movie star Sandra Bullock when deciding whether to adopt a child.

"I'd always felt a weird connection to her, though I only knew her from the show. But she was my age, and I just thought, 'Wow, she's really cool.' I called her, and we talked. She said adopting was the most important thing she'd ever done. When I had made the decision to adopt and was on the plane to pick up my [first] daughter, I called her again. She said, 'It's about to begin!' Sometimes all you need is a model before [you realize], I can handle it," said Kotb.

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She says adopting her children transformed her life.

Hoda Kotb
Steve Granitz/WireImage via Getty Images

One month after being cleared to adopt, Kotb received a text message from her adoption counselor that would change her life forever. "She's here," the message said, simply. "I don't know what giving birth feels like, but I sure know what my heart felt like when I heard those words," Kotb told Insider in 2021. "It was magical," she added.

When she met her eldest daughter for the first time, she felt an instant maternal connection. "They put her in my arms. I haven't carried many babies. She fit like she was born there," Kotb said. "I thought to myself, 'Forever, as long as I have a breath in me, you will be loved and cared for.' She felt like mine right then. It didn't take any time. It happened instantly for me," she recalled.

Once focused solely on her career, Kotb now says her family life gives her a greater sense of peace and balance. "When I put the key in the door, there is no better feeling."

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more