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Hoda Kotb: Breast cancer sparked my rise to celebrity

Having lived through mastectomy cancer made it easy for HodKotb (shown New York earlier this month) jockey for job she

Having lived through a mastectomy and cancer made it easy for Hoda Kotb (shown in New York earlier this month) to jockey for the job she wanted and now has — “Today” co-host. | Desiree Navarro/Getty Images

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Updated: November 10, 2011 5:14PM

“Today” co-host Hoda Kotb says if she hadn’t had breast cancer five years ago, she probably wouldn’t be in the high-profile job she has today.

Kotb says her breast cancer was “actually a gift in a way.”

Kotb, 47, said breast cancer gave her “the privilege of seeing that your life has margins and you stop wasting time.”

“Suddenly you’re like, wait a second. I have a finite amount of time on this earth,” she said.

So when the “Today” show was planning to expand to a fourth hour in 2007, Kotb, then at “Dateline,” went to then-NBC boss Jeff Zucker and uncharacteristically — she says — asked him directly for the job.

“I was so calm because it was so little and nothing” in the wake of her mastectomy and cancer, she said.

“If I hadn’t gotton sick I wouldn’t be sitting next to [co-host] Kathie Lee [Gifford] right now. I wouldn’t have had the guts. It took this to make me realize, ‘swing for it,’ ” she said.

For more with Kotb, see USA Weekend’s cover story on women’s health in Sunday’s Chicago Sun-Times.

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