When it comes to colon cancer, the fight is personal for Katie Couric, 65, and her daughter Ellie, 30; they lost husband and father Jay Monahan to the disease at just 42 years old. In a new commercial for Cologuard, a colon cancer screening test, Katie opened up about the loss of her husband in 1998, and why she’s passionate about treating and preventing the disease.
In the clip, Katie and Ellie appear together, making a mother-daughter dinner at home while Katie’s voiceover tells the story of why she began getting regularly screened for colon cancer; specifically, losing her husband and the father of her children. “Colon cancer took him from us like it’s taken so many others,” Katie shared. “That’s why I’ve made it my mission to talk about getting screened.”
Katie’s assertion she’s made this her mission is no act. This isn’t the first time Katie has made a public statement to raise awareness for colon cancer: back in 2000, she had a colonoscopy on the air on The Today Show in order to destigmatize the procedure. Katie has no qualms about hitting home the importance of regularly getting checked; for her, it’s the difference between having a loved one around or not. “When this happened to Jay, I made it my personal mission to do everything I could to spare other families from going through what ours did,” Katie told People Magazine.
Jay was Katie’s first husband, and the pair wed in 1989. They share two daughters: Ellie and her younger sister Carrie, who Katie assured would have been a part of the ad had she been able to travel out to the west coast. Katie poignantly opened up about the many milestones she wish Jay could have shared with their girls, like prom, college graduation, and walking them down the aisle. “You don’t have to miss these extraordinary life-affirming moments, because you were diagnosed with colon cancer,” Katie urged. “You can detect it early, and it can be treated and prevented.”