Maria Menounos feared she was "going to explode inside" before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The 45-year-old presenter can still remember the excruciating pain she felt after tucking into a farro salad while on a plane last year, and she eventually sought medical help when her other symptoms, including bloating, diarrhoea, and stomach pain, persisted.
She told Today.com: “It was like that kind of pain where you felt like you were going to explode inside.
“I thought it was the farro. I thought that I must be getting really gluten intolerant and my stomach just was not handling this well.”
The former E! News correspondent underwent an endoscopy and colonoscopy, which didn't find anything wrong, while a CT scan showed her organs looked fine, but Maria's "severe" abdominal pain continued, prompting her to undergo a full-body MRI in January, which revealed a 3.9cm tumour on her pancreas, leading to her stage 2 cancer diagnosis.
Maria - who has also battled a brain tumour in the past - called people to keep "pushing" if they experience persistent health issues and get no answers.
She said: “That’s why I keep saying to people: If the symptoms persist, so should you.
“You have to be your own advocate and you have to keep pushing. It’s exhausting, but your life really depends on it.
“You’ve got to listen to your bodies. For me it’s, ‘Feel something, say something, do something, and keep doing the something until someone tells you what’s happening.’
“I really encourage anybody who’s having any consistent pain or symptoms like diarrhoea, bloating, gas or constipation — you have to look deeper. Something’s going on.
“A lot of people just want to shush their bodies and go back to work and go back to life and pretend it’s not happening. I’ve been there.”
In February, Maria had the tumour removed, along with part of her pancreas, her spleen, a fibroid and 17 lymph nodes and she didn't need any further treatment because the cancer hadn't spread, so she is now doing well and has a good prognosis.
And while the presenter keeps a health journal on her phone, she is focusing her attention on her and husband Keven Undergaro's four-month-old daughter Athena, who she hailed as "the best medicine".
She said: "[Athena is] going to be taught that the number one thing in her life is to be healthy, and then she can achieve and do anything she wants from there.
“I think that my next chapter of my life is going to be the healthiest because I’ve been forced to really reevaluate my health in such a deep way. It’s changed the course of everything.”