It’s been nearly two months since Maria Menounos opened up to PEOPLE about her shocking brain tumor diagnosis and the life-saving surgery she underwent. And though 99.9 percent of the benign tumor was removed, the TV and SiriusXM radio host says she’s still experiencing physical side effects.
“I still have a hard time chewing on my right side because it was on my right side and it affected the trigeminal nerve, which controls all of your face,” Menounos said. “And so chewing here, my jaw — it’s not right, now. Little things … I can get dizzy moving my head from side to side. Sometimes I can look like I’ve been in a car accident, so I just shift carefully.”
Overall, Menounos said the good far outweighs the bad. “I feel so lucky to be functioning and to be almost normal and to not have cancer,” she said.
Menounos first learned about her diagnosis in February.
“I’d been getting lightheaded on set and having headaches,” she told PEOPLE. “My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter.”
After undergoing an MRI, Menounos learned she had a golf-ball-size meningioma brain tumor that was pushing on her facial nerves. She underwent seven-hour surgery to remove the mass on June 8 — her 39th birthday.
Asked by Guthrie how the health scare has changed her, Menounos said, “I just see things so differently now.”
“It’s funny. My family was like, ‘Maria’s so quiet.’ And I’m just so much calmer,” Menounos explained. “I think being still is so important — that’s why meditation is so great for people, because it creates a little bit of stillness in their lives.”
“For me having so much time and so much stillness, I’ve been able to look back and everything. And I did see this all as a gift and I did shift everything into positives throughout this whole journey,” she continued. “I think that’s really important. We’re all going to have really hard times in life. It’s how we respond, how we react, how we shift to see the good. Because out of every bad thing, something good comes if you see it — if you open your mind to it.”
Menounos also gave a health update about her mother Litsa, who also has stage 4 brain cancer.
“Right now she’s stable and doing well, but there are definitely a lot of things that go with it. It’s an emotional ride,” Menounos said, adding that they just celebrated together at a family party over the weekend on the one-year anniversary of her mother’s diagnosis. “We called it a ‘Celebration of Life’ party.’ We had a really nice time. “
Menounos — who has worked for E!, Extra and Access Hollywood, appeared on Dancing with the Stars and wrestled for the WWE — also gushed about fiancé Keven Undergaro.
“He’s been unbelievable,” she said of Undergaro, who she has been with for 19 years. “The man has not left my side. Not only is he taking care of me, but he’s helping me take care of my mom and my dad and keeping us all strong.”
“It’s funny, when I first met him, I think it was like by day three when he was telling me how he helped his dad with his cancer. And I was like, ‘He’s a caretaker? Done. This is the guy,’ ” she recalled. “What did I know at 19 about having a caretaker? But look — he’s done everything that I could have ever dreamed of. And I love you, boo.”
Today airs weekdays (7 a.m. ET) on NBC.