How Katie Couric Learned to Care for Herself After Losing Her First Husband and Sister to Cancer

It's okay to not be okay.

Welcome to Deep Dives, a new Health video series where inspiring people talk about a health topic that's meaningful to them and share relatable stories around health and wellness. Watch Katie Couric's Deep Dive above!

It's National Caregivers Month, and Katie Couric knows the caregiving experience firsthand. When the TV and online journalist's first husband, Jay Monahan, was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer in 1997, her world was rocked. The cancer spread to his liver, and he passed away within nine months in 1998 at age 42. With two daughters ages 6 and 2, Couric had to redefine her family as a widowed single mother. "It was a life-changing experience and not in a good way," Couric tells Health.

After losing her sister, Emily Couric, to pancreatic cancer a few years later, Couric's desire to raise awareness about cancer was further ignited. "[I want] to make people knowledgeable about screening options and make them better understand the symptoms of a number of cancers," says Couric.

As Monahan's primary caregiver, she looked to support from a psychiatric social worker and turned to family and friends when things became overwhelming. For self-care during this time, she did breathing exercises and meditation. "It's super important for caregivers to take care of their own health when they're helping a loved one," says Couric.

Though she couldn't save her husband's life, she accepted that she did the best she could at the time. "I just didn't want to give up hope for him, for me, and for our girls."

Watch the rest of Couric's deep dive in the video above.

Your Cancer Story is a program developed by Merck and the cancer advocacy community to provide information and support to cancer patients at every stage of their journey, from diagnosis, to treatment and survivorship. The goal is to promote open and honest conversations amongst patients, advocates and the broader cancer community to help people navigate the feelings and challenges that people experience though every stage of their journey, including the lasting challenges cancer survivors may face. Information and resources can be found on

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