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If all you know of Hoda Kotb is the smiling face on the fourth hour of the “Today” show, bantering with co-host Kathie Lee Gifford, then you might be surprised to know what it took to keep that smile going. In her new book, “Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer and Kathie Lee,” Kotb reveals the details of her sometimes dangerous journalism career, as well as the year she was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a divorce. 

In 2007, Kotb’s gynecologist gave her the news every woman fears – a diagnosis of breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, all of which she shared with “Today” viewers. She still takes the toxic cancer drug tamoxifen, which shut down her reproductive system and made her unable to have children.  But Kotb’s cancer is now in remission, and she says it helped her ask for – and eventually receive – her dream job working on “Today.” 

Before cancer, Kotb says, she was too timid to speak up for what she really wanted, but afterwards, she had no fear.

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