As cohost of GMA3, Amy Robach has a whole new platform to talk about women’s health, to spread awareness about breast cancer, and to provide support and community to women dealing with the same issues she did.
But this is not Robach’s first rodeo when it comes to candid discussions about women’s health on the airwaves. In fact, it was during a live televised mammogram that the broadcast journalist was first alerted to her own breast cancer. A follow up doctor’s appointment confirmed the diagnosis.
Robach lived her cancer journey from diagnosis to remission all in the public eye. In many ways she went her own way when it came to breast cancer, including choosing to get a double mastectomy against the advice of her oncologist and choosing to continue at work throughout her treatment. At the same time, she said, realizing she wasn’t alone at all gave her the support she needed through even the toughest times.
“When I decided to have the mammogram in a mammoth van in the middle of Times Square in front of about five million people, I thought I was just doing a public service. Robin Roberts, my dear friend and colleague, convinced me to do it, and it was all for other women, right?”
When she got the breast cancer diagnosis a few weeks later, Robach said she didn’t hesitate before deciding to go public. “To not share it would have just felt wrong in every way, because the goal was to save lives and to change lives and to help women realize the tools that are there for them and available to them.”
Now, Robach says she can’t imagine having done it any other way. “I wasn’t even prepared for the unbelievable support I got from women all over this country,” she said. “They sent me gift boxes and care packages and letters and emails and texts, and I didn’t realize how important that was to feel supported, to not feel alone, to feel that love coming.”
Still, Robach admits it wasn’t easy to be so vulnerable or to go on TV every day when she felt at her absolute worst. “But it did give me purpose.”
Robach also understood firsthand the value of seeing another public figure go through the same experience. Robach got support from Roberts, for one, and she said she was encouraged in her decision to go through with a double mastectomy by seeing actor Angelina Jolie get the same surgery.
“I was less fearful of the idea of it, knowing that she did it and still looked elegant and beautiful, because it is a very devastating surgery,” Robach said. “I mean, you’re having a double amputation, basically, and it’s a lot of pain and multiple surgeries. It’s a lot to take on and you live with the scars and you never look the same.”
Robach says she also understands other women living with the same cancer who don’t reach out for support or to share their story. “They don’t want to be pitied. They don’t want to be thought of as weak or vulnerable, and so they keep it to themselves and they’re silent, strong warriors,” she said. “But I always say you’re missing out on letting people love you and that love that you receive — it’s not pity. It’s love and it’s nothing else other than that.”