The former TV anchorwoman – who filed for divorce from her husband earlier this year after it was revealed he had fathered a child with their housekeeper – admits even though she has struggled to cope with her problems, she realizes other people in the world have bigger problems than she does.

Speaking about a recent experience with a friend who has intellectual disabilities, she told People: “When I was going through my own challenges this year; feeling down and confused, I got an email from him. He wrote me a note saying, 'You're my best friend Maria and you will never be left out.' When the world is so complicated, the simple gift of friendship is within all of our hands. Thank you to everyone who came up to me this weekend and wished me well."

However, Maria – who has four children, Katherine, 21, Christina, 19, Patrick, 17, and 13-year-old Christopher - admitted the support she has received during her difficult year has been overwhelming.

Along with the impending divorce, Maria was also devastated in July when son Christopher was admitted to intensive care after a boogie boarding accident although he has since made a full recovery.

She said: “I appreciate your support, particularly this year, for sticking with me.”