Lara Spencer has always been an athlete. While attending college at Penn State, she was a competitive diver. Later in life she became an avid runner and tennis player. So when a doctor told her she needed a complete hip replacement at age 47, Spencer was in disbelief.
“I felt there was a stigma attached to a hip replacement, and I didn’t know if I would be the same,” she says in the latest issue of PEOPLE. “I went into this abyss of, ‘What am I going to say to people and my kids?’ ”
The Good Morning America co-host was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, a genetic condition in which the hip’s ball and socket are misaligned. After trying to put off the surgery and get through the chronic pain, she reached a point where she could no longer wait.
Spencer underwent surgery on Aug. 13; by that afternoon, she was already taking steps.
“It’s amazing what they can do now,” she says, pointing to the 3.5-in. scar on her hip. “I want to demystify it.”
- For more on Lara Spencer’s surgery journey, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Before going public with the news, Spencer considered keeping it quiet, but in the end decided she could help others.
“It’s genetic,” she explains. “Being athletic exacerbated it. But this isn’t an old person’s problem, it’s an active person’s problem.”
Now three months out of surgery, she’s giddy about how fast she’s recovering. “I’m better than ever,” she says. “I feel bionic.”