Sheinelle Jones announced on TODAY Thursday that she will be undergoing vocal cord surgery and will be out several weeks to take care of her voice.
The 3rd hour of TODAY co-host has a lesion on one of her vocal cords that can make it difficult to talk and causes her voice to sound hoarse.
Doctors expect her to miss work for about six weeks, and she won't be able to talk or use her voice for two weeks following the procedure.
"There's a piece of me that feels like it's a little bit of grace," Sheinelle said on the 3rd hour of TODAY Thursday. "Because it's a gift to sit still and do some soul searching, do some reading, do some writing. Nobody ever tells you you have permission to sit still."
People like singers, actors, lawyers and broadcasters are more susceptible to vocal fold trauma, known as phonotrauma, because they use their voice frequently, and the effects can be anything from blisters to lesions to cysts, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
"Sometimes smaller lesions cause more trouble,'' Dr. Rosemary B. Desloge, a New York-based laryngologist and otolaryngologist, told Sheinelle during a recent chat. "It all has to do with how it impacts the vibration of the vocal folds."
The surgery will involve removing the lesion on Sheinelle's vocal fold. It will take about an hour, and afterward, she will be on full vocal rest for two weeks. That means no talking.
"When you talk, your vocal cords vibrate, and so because they're removing it, I'm going to be on vocal rest," Sheinelle said. "I can't talk because they want those cords to heal without banging into each other."
Unfortunately, the problem isn't new. Sheinelle, 41, has been working with a speech pathologist for years to help preserve her voice. In 2016, doctors found a polyp on one of her cords that caused her to miss time at work. It eventually went away.
Sheinelle said she was alerted to the issue when a TODAY producer suggested she see an ear, nose and throat doctor after noticing she frequently cleared her throat before reading the news on Weekend TODAY.
"If that producer didn't tell me, 'Sheinelle you should probably go to an ENT,' I probably would've put up with it for a lot longer,'' she said on TODAY Thursday.
For the past five months, she's been attending one-hour speech therapy sessions twice a week, where a therapist massages her throat and leads other exercises to help get rid of excessive tension in the area.
She also has gotten up 30 minutes early to do vocal exercises every day when she's on the air.
"I'm really trying to use this as a time to sit still and just take care of myself," Sheinelle said. "We talk a lot about self-care, and this is self-care to the nth degree."