Hoda Kotb Recalls Being ‘Horrified’ by Her Post-Mastectomy Body

  • Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager opened up about body acceptance on Today.
  • Kotb recalled being “horrified” by her body post-mastectomy.
  • The 57-year-old had a double mastectomy in 2007 after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

    We can always count on Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager to have open, honest conversations, especially when it comes to sometimes uncomfortable topics like body acceptance. On Wednesday, the pair tackled the subject with confidence and honesty on Today, and Kotb got particularly vulnerable about how she was “horrified” by her post-mastectomy reflection—but grew to love the body that made her a cancer survivor.

    In 2007, Kotb underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Further reconstruction required doctors to also make a hip-to-hip incision. 15 years later, she’s able to appreciate the scars the procedure left her with, but that wasn’t always the case.

    “You don’t realize how long the journey is,” Kotb told Hager, admitting that, although she was overjoyed to be cancer-free, the illness completely left her mind when she saw her new body for the first time. “I remember, afterwards, having to get washed in the hospital. I hadn’t seen [the scarring], because I just hadn’t looked at it,” she said. “A nurse came in to help me and she stood me in front of the mirror, and I was horrified.”

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    A sense of shock overtook her—it was as if a stranger was staring back. “You know when you look, and you’re like, ‘That’s me now?! Like, this is the body for the rest of my life that’s going to carry me through?’” she continued. “You don’t see it as: The cancer is gone. Right then, that moment, you see it as this horrible [thing].”

    Standing there, she thought for sure her days of self-acceptance and love were behind her. “You don’t think that you’ll ever feel good about yourself, because you’re always going to be hiding, hiding, hiding, hiding,” she added.

    “Now I look at my scars, and I’m happy.”

    But she doesn’t hide anymore, and that’s partially thanks to a few supportive friends who provided encouragement and reminded her of her worth. “Shortly after I had my surgery, there was a woman who was older, an aunt of my friend,” she explained. “Her name was Harriet. And she said to me, ‘Let me see your scar. I had the same.’”

    Kotb was taken off guard, but when the woman led her to a back room, she showed her scars for the very first time. “I did it, and she goes, ‘Now is that so bad?’” the mom of two shared. “It was a very poignant and moving moment for me. It was a life-changer.”

    Today, the 57-year-old can stand boldly before the mirror and be proud of what she sees. “Now I look at my scars, and I’m happy,” she said.

    Thanks, Hoda, for reminding us, once again, that the difficult journeys are often the most rewarding.

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