TV & Movies

All of the Personal Challenges Morning Show Hosts Have Shared Over the Years

Al Roker

The anchor revealed on the Today show that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

“It’s a good news–bad news kind of thing,” he said during the Nov. 6 broadcast. “Good news is we caught it early. Not-great news is that it’s a little aggressive, so I’m going to be taking some time off to take care of this.”

Roker said he wanted to publicly share his health battle to raise awareness about the form of cancer, which affects one in nine men.

On Nov. 12, Roker gave fans an update on his health and shared that he completed surgery. “Relieved to let you all know that my #prostatecancer surgery is done and back home,” he wrote on Twitter and Instagram, alongside photos with his wife Deborah and son Nicholas.

The cancer was detected during a routine physical when his doctor found that he had an “elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA)” in his bloodwork results. The father of three then had an MRI and a biopsy that confirmed the cancer on Sept. 29.

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Hoda Kotb

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, the Today anchor was left unable to conceive, which made her believe she would never become a mom. She told PEOPLE in 2017, “Sometimes in your life, things just don’t work out for whatever reason, so you say, ‘Well, I wasn’t meant to have that.’ But it was really hard to come to terms with it.” As a result, friends told PEOPLE that Kotb never spoke publicly of her desire to have children. Privately, though, “there was a hole,” Kotb said at the time. “People would say, ‘Oh, do you have kids?’ And I’d feel like, ‘Ouch.’ I knew inside it was supposed to be for me.”

Fast forward to now, and Kotb is now mom to daughters Hope Catherine and Haley Joy, both of whom she welcomed via adoption with fiancé Joel Schiffman — and revealed in October 2020 that she has filled out paperwork to adopt a third child. 

Kotb shared the happy news on The Drew Barrymore Show and added, “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.”

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Kristen Dahlgren

Reporting on the signs of breast cancer for a 2016 story led the the NBC correspondent to recognize some rare symptoms in herself in 2019, which led to a diagnosis and double mastectomy, as well as eight rounds of chemotherapy and 25 rounds of radiation.

In April she announced that she is now breast cancer free, but says there are still setbacks she has yet to overcome.

“For now, life has returned to a semblance of normal, and I am trying to enjoy every second,” Dahlgren wrote in an October essay for Today about her treatment and recovery. “There is, however, a constant reminder of what I have been through and what is yet to come. It hits me every time I take a deep breath, or get a hug, and especially when my daughter lays her head on my chest. That’s when I really ‘feel’ the toll the breast cancer has taken. It’s discomfort and numbness all at once.”

The correspondent shared that she will undergo reconstructive surgery to hopefully regain feeling back in her chest but was warned that “there are no guarantees.”

“I’d really just love to feel a hug — or my little girl cuddled up against me on the couch,” she said. “If it doesn’t work, life certainly goes on, but like I have so often in the past year, for now, I am hanging on to hope.”

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Savannah Guthrie

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Accidents happen — just ask Guthrie, who underwent two surgeries after a train thrown by her then-two-year-old son Charley hit her in the eye and caused a large tear in her retina in November 2019, which in turn caused temporary blindness, she shared on Instagram.

After the accident, Guthrie got retina reattachment surgery and then cataract surgery eight months later, and shared her journey on the morning show. By late July, Guthrie had returned to her post at Today, announcing that her vision is back to normal.

“Seeing all the colors a little brighter today 🌸. I’m so grateful my surgery was a success!” she wrote on Instagram, alongside a selfie in which she takes in a colorful arrangement of flowers. “I’m still healing but already noticing a major improvement in my vision.”

“My eyes are filled – with tears of joy!” continued Guthrie. “So much gratitude to my gifted surgeon @abrissettemd and her amazing team! See you later this week on TODAY! And when I say ‘see you’ – I really mean it. ❤️”

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Carson Daly

During the pandemic, Daly had been feeling waves of nostalgia and decided to enlist his older sister Quinn to recreate a beloved family photo of their late father, James “J.D.” Daly on the Today show.

“You look at a picture of your family, and it just conjures up one million questions about your past,” explained Carson, who was 5 when he lost his father to cancer. “Having to stay at home the last three or four months, everybody’s gotten very nostalgic and is kind of holding on to their past.”

In an effort to find answers, Carson sat down with Quinn to discuss their childhood, then got behind a green screen to recreate the photo. (Quinn moved across the country to be closer to her brother after the loss of their mom and stepfather, who died just weeks apart in 2017.)

“So much has happened in the last two and a half years since we lost our parents,” she said.

“You’re all I have and I’m all you have, for the most part,” Carson replied during the touching segment. 

For Quinn, watching her brother “literally embodying” their father for the photo was powerful.

“It’s really symbolic, because you embody him in a lot of those ways,” she said. “You love your family, and maybe you don’t remember it as much as I do, but he loved us. We were his life.”

“I feel it. I feel like a product of love, for sure,” said Carson, who has four kids with wife Siri. “So to be able to recreate that photo was really cool.”

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Dylan Dreyer

Dreyer — who has also been very open about her fertility journey — shared over the summer that her sons Oliver, 6 months, and Calvin, 3½, underwent surgeries just three days apart amid the coronavirus pandemic in July. 

“We didn’t intend for their surgeries to be back-to-back but because of COVID, everything got rearranged,” Dreyer explained, adding that there was the added complication that “while Oliver was in surgery, I had to pump.”

“Because of COVID, [husband Brian Fichera] and I both couldn’t go, so I’m trying to carry my pumps, my cooler bag, my diaper bag, Oliver post-surgery, trying to hold him gently — I just didn’t have enough hands,” Dreyer said. “It was a challenge going through it alone.”

The mother of two also chatted with Today Parents about her boys’ procedures, revealing that they’re “great” and doing “much better” now.

“To put both my [sons] through that was stressful, but kids are just amazing,” Dreyer said. “Calvin laughed through his COVID test, and Ollie was smiling the whole time. Kids just handle things totally differently than we do.”

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Shinelle Jones

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https://www.instagram.com/p/CAG6h1nJojY/Sheinelle Jones/Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/p/CAG6h1nJojY/Sheinelle Jones/Instagram

The 3rd Hour of Today co-host got candid about the emotional journey of embracing her natural hair texture on national television in an essay published in May on Today.com.

“In our business, the demands of having our hair styled every morning can be a bit tough, so it never seemed like I had time to figure it out,” she wrote before explaining that she enlisted celebrity hairstylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew to help her try a natural look, which Jones filmed for a Today segment.

“I took the jump and I’m so glad I did,” Jones said about debuting her new look – but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t more emotional than she expected. “As an African American woman on network news, [natural hair texture] is not something you see often — and it’s definitely a ‘step’ that is long overdue for me personally. I felt obligated to call my executive producer before I went on-air — just to let her know that I was a bit nervous.”

Her producer loved it, and Jones did too. “It would’ve been kind of cool [when I was a little girl] to see someone on the news who had my hair, and I hope I can offer that to little brown girls I may never meet,” she said.

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Robin Roberts

The Good Morning America co-host has been open about her struggles throughout the years, including her battle with breast cancer and the death of her mother. Roberts looked back on the toughest moments in her life on the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and told PEOPLE in 2015 that when times get tough, you must “keep moving forward as best you can.”

“Ten years ago I had just been promoted to co-anchor at GMA. On a blind date, I met the most wonderful woman, Amber. Two years later, breast cancer. I thankfully recover. [Five years after that,] GMA finally becomes number one in the [ratings], and the same day I’m told I have two years left to live if I don’t find a bone marrow donor,” she said. “Answering a prayer, my sister is a perfect match. Then, days before my transplant, I have to rush home to be by my beloved mother’s side. I was the one holding her hand when she took her last breath.”

Through the, as she calls them, “peaks and valleys,” Roberts has chosen to focus on the positive portions of her journey.

“My sweet mama taught me that when you are knocked down, it takes courage to believe that the best is yet to come,” she said. “This too shall pass. I’ve lived through hard times and I am stronger for it – and I’m here. I get up every day and do what I can to be strong.”

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Michael Strahan

The Good Morning America co-host opened up about losing his father, Gene Strahan, on The Dr. Oz Show in October. Michael shared how he’s been coping since his dad’s death, explaining that he’s kept “all the emails” and “all the texts” he’s received from loved ones who have expressed their condolences.

“I kept everything,” Michael told host Dr. Mehmet Oz, adding that it was “important” for him to respond “immediately when someone reached out to me.”

“I’m getting their real emotion at that time, and I wanted them to get my real emotion at that time as well,” he said. “It was great because it brought smiles to my face to see these people think of my father and my family, and it made me think of some great things with my dad.”

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Gayle King

The CBS host joined The Talk in June to discuss the protests over the killing of George Floyd and how she fears for her own son’s safety.

“My son is 33 years old, and I’m worried about him,” King told the hosts of The Talk, saying that she asks her son, Will Bumpus Jr., not to take his dog for long walks because “everything is so volatile.”

King explained that Will lives in the Santa Monica area of Los Angeles, where there had been multiple protests this summer. The longtime TV journalist said that her son could hear the police helicopters and protests in his neighborhood.

“But I’m worried about him walking his frickin’ dog,” King added. “I worry for him being a black man, period.”

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Kelly Ripa

The mother of three got emotional during an April episode of Live with Kelly and Ryan, revealing that the stress of the pandemic had impacted her family life at home.

“I’m not going to lie, okay? I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m currently not speaking to two of my three kids.” Ripa confessed to co-host Ryan Seacrest. “Just because, we’re all in the same boat together, right?”

Ripa shares daughter Lola and sons Michael and Joaquin with husband Mark Consuelos.

“I haven’t gotten to hug my parents. I want to hug my parents. I miss hugging my parents,” she explained as she held back tears. “And my kids, like, won’t hug me. And I’m like, ‘Guys, we’ve all been in lockdown together. We’re fine. You can give me a hug. It’s fine.’”

“Anyway, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m crying. Maybe I’m just going to get my period, who knows,” Ripa said, before pivoting the conversation back to a lighter subject. “Sorry, sorry. Sometimes we forget that we’re on. Did I shout that, or did my inner monologue come out? Sorry, didn’t mean to do that.”

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Katie Couric

The then-Today show co-anchor took some time off following the death of her late husband Jay Monahan, a lawyer and NBC News legal analyst who died from colon cancer in 1998. In 2000, she famously got a colonoscopy on air to help destigmatize the the potentially life-saving screening – and remains a vocal advocate for early diagnosis, getting a mammogram on air in 2005 and continuing to speak out about the importance of testing.

In 2017, Couric opened up about her experience losing a loved one so close to the holidays in an essay for Time.

“I wish I had the perfect recipe for taking away that drumbeat of fear and pain. There just isn’t one,” she wrote in 2017. “My two girls provided comfort and joy. Our families and friends provided unconditional love and support. And the holidays themselves commanded us to appreciate the here and now.”

“I now have a new husband, a wonderful person I adore, who is warm and wise and so funny,” she continued, referring to John Molner, whom she wed in 2014. “He’s different from Jay, but I think Jay would approve. I think they would have been friends. His greatest gift has been allowing me to love them both.”

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