Two weeks ago I went for my annual mammogram as I do every year religiously, and thankfully it was all clear. That is always the moment where I feel I can breathe again. However for women who have dense fibrous breast tissue, as I do, often our doctors will recommend an ultrasound as well. My ultrasound that day revealed a tumor in my right breast. After a core biopsy was performed, I heard those words that every woman fears and that I never thought I’d hear: “you have breast cancer.”
I sat there stunned – how could this be? I considered myself fit and healthy, I get checked faithfully every year and I didn’t have a history of breast cancer in my family. But of course after covering many stories about breast cancer over the years, I knew that none of us are exempt. I also knew that I had to jump into action quickly, put together a team, and find the best course of treatment for the kind of cancer that I have.
In the first few days I thought about trying to keep it a secret, however I knew that did not ring true to who I am and how I have lived my life.
I have decided to talk about my breast cancer because since the moment I took the job at Good Morning America I have lived my life sharing my joys and my disappointments with all of you: my pregnancies, my relationships, my career… I have shared my journey. So it certainly didn’t feel right keeping this part of my journey a secret.
My father was a cancer surgeon and he died when I was a young girl on a flight home from speaking at a Cancer Conference. I so admired my father’s passion to save lives and work toward a cure for cancer. I thought about what he would say if he knew that I was going through this and that I had ultimately lived my life in front of an audience. I knew that he would want me to use this experience as an opportunity to spread the word about how important it is to get screened for all types of cancers and for women to do self-breast exams. Early detection is so crucial, I consider myself fortunate that I found this in the early stages and the prognosis is so promising.
Breast cancer is not something to be ashamed of or something that we should feel is taboo to discuss. I’ll admit, even though I’ve shaped my career around health and wellness advocacy, speaking all over the country, and even running a women's wellness camp where I encourage others to share their stories… it took me some time to embrace the idea of coming forward with MY breast cancer journey.
I have already begun my chemotherapy and I am blessed to have my husband Jeff and my three older daughters with me every step of the way. I am so thankful to have the support, wisdom, and guidance from all my doctors and the loving support of my family and my friends. I know I have a challenge ahead of me in this journey, however I have chosen to take it as an opportunity to fulfill my father’s legacy and try to inspire others to protect their health.