The news anchor, who attended a preview screening of the PBS documentary Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, continues to be a staunch advocate for cancer research and funding
Credit: Michael Stewart/WireImage; Inset: Walter McBride/Corbis

After her husband Jay Monahan died of colon cancer in 1998, Katie Couric has dedicated her life to keeping his memory alive in the work she continues to do for cancer research and education.

On Tuesday, Couric – the co-founder of Stand Up 2 Cancer, the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance and the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health – attended a preview screening in N.Y.C. of the PBS documentary Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, where she spoke out about her husband’s legacy and her ongoing fight to prevent other from succumbing to the disease.

“I hope he would think that the work that I’m doing – whether it’s in colon cancers or in other cancers, to save future Jay Monahans from experiencing the same fate that he did – is worthwhile and important,” the Yahoo! Global News anchor, 58, told PEOPLE.

She also said: “I think he would be pissed that some of the treatments that are available now and some of the awareness that exists now was not around in 1997 when he was diagnosed I think he’d be just really disappointed that he missed out on so much, to be honest with you.”

Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, which was directed by Barak Goodman, clearly hit close to home for the former Today show anchor.

“Watching this film brought back a lot of very painful and difficult memories for me,” she said. “I have so much respect and admiration for the families who were willing to allow Ken and his team into their lives during such a traumatic time – dealing with a sick child, trying to figure out the course of treatment to pursue, knowing that an experimental therapy might not work. And as I watched them I thought, ‘I could not have done that.’ ”

And as she focuses her efforts on raising awareness and funding for cancer research, she leans on her new husband, John Molner, for encouragement to keep soldiering forth.

“He’s incredibly supportive,” Couric said of Molner – whom she wed last June – and his involvement in her cancer work.

“He’s looking at colleges with his daughter this week, but he’s very supportive and very proud of the work I’ve done, and he would be here tonight otherwise,” she said.