Maria Menunous started experiencing questionable symptoms in February, “I’d been getting lightheaded on set and having headaches,” she tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s exclusive new cover story. “My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter.”
She had an MRI that showed a golf-ball sized meningioma brain tumor that was pushing on her facial nerves. “I didn’t cry. I actually laughed,” she remembers.
Menunous was caring for her mother, who had stage 4 brain cancer when she found out about her health crisis.
“It’s so surreal and crazy and unbelievable that my mom has a brain tumor—and now I have one too?”
She had a complex surgery, lasting 7 hours, but her doctor was able to remove 99.9 percent of the tumor, which was benign. “He said there’s a six to seven percent chance that we’ll see it come back,” she says. “But I’ll take those odds any day.”
She is now resting and healing at home after a six-day hospital stay. “I don’t have my balance fully yet but as long as I’m holding on to Keven, I’m sturdy and fine,” Menounos says. “My face is still numb. This is something that takes at least a month of healing, but I’m getting stronger and stronger every day and I’ll be back to normal very soon.”
We wish her a speedy recovery.