This may surprise you, but gorgeous and vivacious TV Celebrity Maria Menounos and I have a few things in common. Maria interviews Hollywood stars on Oscar’s Red Carpet, competed on Dancing With the Stars, is a former Miss Massachusetts Teen U.S.A. and has a personal friend named Tom Brady, who plays football for a living. No similarities yet? Not a one! But Maria and I do share some common threads.
We both grew up a few miles north of Boston in bordering towns (she in Medford and I in Arlington) even though she was born the year I got married. We both love the Patriots, although Maria’s pal Tom couldn’t pick me out of a lineup, and we were both once trapped in an elevator alone. Okay, so she shimmied up the shaft to climb to the next floor while I sat on the rug praying the rosary and searching my pocketbook for a Xanax.
Nevertheless, having the same geographic roots as Maria Menounos, I have always taken vicarious pride in her accomplishments. “See, Alli,,” I would say to my teenaged daughter,” as we watched our neighborhood girl rubbing shoulders with dimple-cheeked Mario Lopez on a nightly episode of Extra. “If Maria can do this, you can too. Become an actress and start supporting your father and me in the style to which we would like to become accustomed.”
Quite recently, and very sadly, Maria announced to the media that both she and her mother, Litsa Menounos, were battling brain tumors— hers benign and her mom’s a stage 4 glioblastoma. So, it seems she and I have yet another ominous thing in common. We are both brain tumor survivors. When I heard the news, I mailed two copies of my book, All in My Head: How a Hypochondriac Beat Brain Cancer, to her celebrity fan site, thinking my story might bring some hope and comfort to Maria, and, particularly, to her mother.
Just a few weeks ago, I received an incredible note in my email from Lauren LoGrasso, who is a “producer and personality” on the SiriusXM radio show, Conversations with Maria Menounos. She wrote: “Hi Marie, I came upon one of your books and I am interested in potentially having you on our SiriusXM Show. I wanted to see if you had any interest and if so, if we could set up a phone chat to see if you’d be a good fit? Let me know. I am looking forward to chatting and hearing more of your story!”
Of course, I replied in the affirmative, probably way too many times and with my usual overkill enthusiasm— “Sure, I could chat today, not today, how about tomorrow? That’s even better— whatever’s good for you. Midnight? Not a problem. I have to babysit my grandchildren on Monday, but I could tape their mouths shut and take your call. Just tell me when.”
I have not heard back from Maria’s producer to date, and am beginning to think it might not happen. But I will never forget the thrill of seeing that email from the girl from Medford who lit up Hollywood with her beauty and charm. Her quarterback friend couldn’t pick me out of a lineup but Maria knows my whole life story, and maybe it gave her and her mother a small bit of solace in the storm.
Please remember Litsa Menounos in your prayers as she continues to fight the good fight. Odds can be beaten, Mrs. Menounos. Take it from me.
(Pictured: Maria and Litsa Menounos)