When Amy Robach was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, the Good Morning America host knew she was in for the fight of her life, but she didn’t expect it would test her marriage to Andrew Shue at the same time.
Just three years after the couple said “I do,” Robach, 42, was blindsided by the devastating news she had breast cancer after she had an on-air mammogram as part of GMA‘s October Pink Initiative to help encourage viewers to get checked.
While a supportive Shue was by her side as she underwent a bilateral mastectomy and eight grueling rounds of chemotherapy, the couple struggled to make their relationship work.
“We were learning how to live with each other and raise kids together,” Robach tells PEOPLE. (Shue has three sons from a previous marriage: Nate, 19, Aiden, 17, and Wyatt, 12, and Robach has daughters Annalise, 9, and Ava, 12, with ex-husband Tim McIntosh.)
“This was not something I would wish on anyone’s marriage, but I think it was especially hard on a newer marriage. All of a sudden I felt like I needed him in a very needy way, and that’s not my personality,” she says. “When I had my crisis I completely crumbled. It threw everything up in the air. It was rough for several months.”
But after turning to friends and family for advice and ultimately changing the way they communicated, the couple’s bond became so much stronger.
“We knew what we had when we found each other, and we knew that if we could just get back to what our connection was about and just be honest about the fears, then we could get through it,” says Shue, 48.
Now cancer free, Robach says her and her husband are the “best they have ever been,” and she’s happily cherishing every moment her family has together.
“That is the gift of facing death,” she says, “that you say to yourself all I need is what I have right now.”
Robach’s new book Better is available Sept. 29 on Amazon.
For more on Amy Robach and Andrew Shue’s story pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday