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Hoda Kotb says a conversation with a stranger convinced her to reveal her cancer diagnosis years ago


Hoda Kotb opened up about her cancer struggle from more than a decade ago during a Friday appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show.

The 56-year-old Today anchor revealed she made the difficult decision to go public as she battled breast cancer after a chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane.

Their brief chat led the journalist to share her cancer diagnosis with her viewers as she sought treatment back in 2007. 

Sharing: Hoda Kotb, 56, opened up about how she became comfortable enough to talk about her breast cancer diagnosis in 2007 during an appearance Friday on The Drew Barrymore Show

Sharing: Hoda Kotb, 56, opened up about how she became comfortable enough to talk about her breast cancer diagnosis in 2007 during an appearance Friday on The Drew Barrymore Show

The 45-year-old actress-turned-talk show host opened up her segment by singing Hoda’s praises.

‘Even when you have to deliver the facts, and it’s our civic duty to understand what’s going on around the world, you still exude positivity and hope,’ she began.

‘You have been kind enough to bring people into your life and your experience, which just makes us feel like we know you all the more.’

The morning show host was visibly moved by Drew’s praise and explained that ‘sometimes it’s easy to share the good stuff in your life, but you don’t want to share the crummy stuff.’

Big fan: Drew began by singing Hoda's praises. 'Even when you have to deliver the facts, and it's our civic duty to understand what's going on around the world, you still exude positivity and hope'

Big fan: Drew began by singing Hoda’s praises. ‘Even when you have to deliver the facts, and it’s our civic duty to understand what’s going on around the world, you still exude positivity and hope’

Opening up: The morning show host was visibly moved by Drew's praise and explained that 'sometimes it's easy to share the good stuff in your life, but you don't want to share the crummy stuff'

Opening up: The morning show host was visibly moved by Drew’s praise and explained that ‘sometimes it’s easy to share the good stuff in your life, but you don’t want to share the crummy stuff’

She explained that adopting her two daughters in 2017 and 2019 ‘was a great joy, and sharing that was effortless for me,’ but it was harder to share her cancer diagnosis with others.

‘When I was working at NBC with breast cancer, I was determined to put that deep in my pockets and not share that because I didn’t want to be that person.’

Her thinking changed after a stranger on a plane inquired about a compression sleeve she was wearing, leading her to explain that she had cancer.

‘But I said to him, “But I hope that’s not how you remember me.” And he said, “What’s wrong with you? Having cancer is part of you. It’s like working at NBC or getting married or graduating college. Let me give you some advice and you can go to sleep: don’t hog your journey, it’s not just for you,”‘ she recounted.

No shame: After she revealed her cancer diagnosis to a stranger on a plane and asked him not to remember her that way, he said there was noting wrong with having cancer

No shame: After she revealed her cancer diagnosis to a stranger on a plane and asked him not to remember her that way, he said there was noting wrong with having cancer

Advice: '"Let me give you some advice and you can go to sleep: don’t hog your journey, it’s not just for you,"' Hoda quoted the stranger

Advice: ‘”Let me give you some advice and you can go to sleep: don’t hog your journey, it’s not just for you,”‘ Hoda quoted the stranger

‘I sat there in that moment with a complete stranger and realized I had just changed the path of my life. He said, “You can put your stuff deep in your pockets and take it to your grave or you can help someone. Those are your choices, A or B, choose.”

‘When he said that I was so struck by the fact that I wanted to hide the bad parts of my life and suddenly I felt lifted and lighter and I mentioned it at work when I had kept it a secret, I said it out loud, and all of a sudden I found it really was helping people. It shaped me. It didn’t define me, but you can still help people with that,’ she said.

Drew also asked Hoda about her announcement on Thursday that she and her fiancé Joel Schiffman had filled out the paperwork to adopt a third child.

Child on the way: Drew also asked Hoda about her announcement on Thursday that she and her fiancé Joel Schiffman had filled out the paperwork to adopt a third child

Child on the way: Drew also asked Hoda about her announcement on Thursday that she and her fiancé Joel Schiffman had filled out the paperwork to adopt a third child

‘I was sitting with Joel — who by the way has a grown daughter who just graduated law school so know where we are here — I said to him, “We have a lot of love in this house do we have space for more love? Yes, we do. Would our family be enhanced? Yes, it would. Are there children who need us to? Yes, there are.”‘

‘Every answer was yes,’ she continued. ‘Look, it’s not in our hands now. We filled out the paperwork and say it’s in God’s hands, like, come what may. I just know your heart’s ability to expand blows my mind, you can fit so much love in there.’

The Egyptian–American anchor is already the mother to her daughters Olive, eight, and Frankie, six.

Easy choice: 'I said to [Joel], "We have a lot of love in this house do we have space for more love? Yes, we do. Would our family be enhanced? Yes, it would. Are there children who need us to? Yes, there are."'

Easy choice: ‘I said to [Joel], “We have a lot of love in this house do we have space for more love? Yes, we do. Would our family be enhanced? Yes, it would. Are there children who need us to? Yes, there are.”‘

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