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'Unusual headache' leads to brain cancer diagnosis for Atlanta TV anchor

Jovita Moore has been off the air since April after troubling symptoms led her to undergo an MRI and brain surgery.
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Jovita Moore speaks at an event at Westside Cultural Arts Center on April 26, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia.Paras Griffin / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Jovita Moore, a veteran local news anchor in Atlanta, has been diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that comes with a grim prognosis.

Like many cases of the disease, the diagnosis comes as a shock: Moore, 53, has been an active and prominent journalist in the area for 23 years. She appeared on TV several times a day, anchoring the late afternoon and evening newscasts. Outside of her television work, she’s a mom of three and a volunteer at a local non-profit helping homeless kids.

But in April, Moore revealed she underwent an MRI after noticing troubling symptoms.

“I was really concerned about why all of a sudden I was forgetful, disoriented and just not feeling myself. Feeling like I was in a fog and really wanting to get out of that fog,” Moore said at the time in an interview with her station, WSB-TV. She recalled almost passing out while heading to a supermarket.

“I remember walking across the parking lot and feeling like I wasn’t going to make it to the door. I was almost like walking in quicksand.”

The brain scan showed two small masses, which were removed during a surgery in April. Moore has been off the air since then, but was hoping to return after recovering for about 10 weeks.

Last week, the station announced the tumors turned out to be glioblastoma, the most common and most aggressive form of brain cancer in adults, accounting for 35-40% of malignant brain tumors, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Most glioblastomas seem to occur randomly and can affect anyone, at any age. There is no cure, and treatment is difficult since glioblastoma grows tentacles into the brain that are impossible to remove. As it spreads, the tumor can affect cognition, mood, behavior and every function of the body, the National Brain Tumor Society warned.

Most patients survive for less than two years. The same disease took the life of Sen. John McCain and Beau Biden, son of President Joe Biden.

Headaches are the most common symptom in a previously healthy person and that was also the case for Moore, she said in an audio statement released last week.

“This journey for me started with an unusual headache so if something’s not right with you, I urge you to please get yourself checked,” Moore said, thanking viewers for their support.

“I’m home now. I’m up and about and doing everything my doctors tell me to do. So for now, I need to be here to focus on my health. I’m surrounded by my family, a very small circle of friends, but also your extended love and support.”

Condace Pressley, WSB-TV community and public affairs director and Moore’s longtime friend, said the anchor was doing well.

“Our girl is strong. Our girl is a fighter and she’s doing great every day,” Pressley said in an interview with the station.

“We laugh and you know sometimes we talk about stuff and we may cry a little bit. But at the end of the day, she is a fighter, and she is surrounded by love and prayers and positivity.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp was among those expressing their support:

Pressley did not reply to a TODAY email seeking any new updates or comments.

Moore’s neurosurgeon said the journalist is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, which will slow down the lesions, but won’t cure them.

“That’s one of the reasons I’m so desperate to continue to work on better treatments for these patients,” Dr. Edjah Nduom, an associate professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, told WSB-TV.

As for Moore, “she’s done fantastic” so far, he said, pointing to her good spirits, healthy lifestyle and family support. “All of these things play into patients who do better when they face a disease like this.”