Tomorrow, City of Hope — one of the nation’s premier cancer organizations — will recognize ABC’s “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, Laura Geller and Elayne “Honey” Cook, with the Spirit of Life Award. I interviewed Robin about her battle against breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 2007 and since then has successfully undergone treatment. Today, Robin is healthy and spreading the word about the importance of early detection. Here are some highlights from our interview.
Helene Lerner: When you found the lump, what was your reaction and how were you able to move through your fear?
Robin Roberts: I was scared. I’m no different than any other woman who finds a lump — things race through your head. But because I had checked myself before, I knew this one felt different. It was in a different part of my breast and was harder than others. That’s when I knew I really needed to take action.
I did not want to worry anybody. Even my doctor — I went in and it was hard for me to say it. Finally, I said, “You know — it’s probably nothing but I have this lump.” I was proud of myself for speaking up. When I became public about the disease, I felt like I was being a voice for others.
HL: How can we as women support each other in those dark moments?
RR: As women, we are intuitive to begin with. If someone is going through a hard time, don’t wait for them to ask for help, be more proactive. Bring over a casserole, don’t wait for us to ask for it. There were times when I would tell people I needed help, but more often than not someone would simply come over to walk my dog without me asking.
HL: I love what you’ve said: “You have to put yourself in the position for good things to happen to you.”
RR: You can wish, hope, and pray — but if you do not actually take action and put yourself in the position for good things, you are not positioning yourself for success. When I raised my hand in that examining room, I was positioning myself for early detection and success.
HL: You mentioned your mom, Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts, and what a powerful influence she has been on you.
RR: She was the first in her family to go to college — she went to Howard University on $200. She makes friends with everyone wherever she goes. I’m so incredibly grateful for my upbringing.