Amy Robach and Five More Anchors Who've Bravely Battled Cancer in the Public Eye
A look back at TV anchors who have publicly battled cancer
Good Morning America correspondent Amy Robach announced Monday morning that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer after undergoing an on-air mammogram. The news came as a shock to Robach, who is determined to stay strong for her family while also encouraging viewers to get checked.
Robach is not the only news personality who has recently raised awareness for the importance of cancer screenings. Just last week, Matt Lauer and Al Roker participated in prostate exams for a Today show segment.
In fact, several television anchors have bravely battled cancer in the public eye. As veteran journalist Linda Ellerbee told PEOPLE in 1993, a year after her own cancer diagnosis, “I wasn’t going to try to get through this alone. I wasn’t going to try to pretend to be that brave.”
Good Morning America
anchor Robin Roberts revealed she had breast cancer in a 2007 segment with Diane Sawyer. “At first I thought, ‘This can’t be. I am a young, healthy woman.’ Nevertheless, I faced my fear head on and made an appointment to see the doctor,” she wrote on the ABC News website. “Much as I was hoping the doctor would say it was nothing, she did a biopsy and confirmed that the lump I’d found was indeed an early form of breast cancer.”
In 2012, Roberts faced another health scare when she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder, and underwent a bone marrow transplant. This past August, she announced plans to return full-time to GMA and expressed a positive outlook on her recovery process. “I’m really at peace now. I’m not as frightened. I feel 90 percent of myself again, and that’s a great feeling,” she told PEOPLE.
During an appearance on the Today show in 2011, E! News host Giuliana Rancic announced that she learned of her breast cancer diagnosis while undergoing her third round of in-vitro fertilization. “A lot of us think we’re invincible … but we have to start putting ourselves on the to-do list,” she said. “I had a friend call me yesterday, and she said, ‘I’m so sorry, can I do anything for you?’ And I said, ‘Just call your doctor tomorrow and make an appointment. That’s what you could do for me.’ … I will be okay because I found it early.”
In September 2013, Rancic told ABC News that the birth of her son, Duke, took her mind off the disease. “Once I had the baby, I couldn’t think about it 100 times a day,” she said. “In many ways, Duke’s been my salvation. I just don’t have time to think about it. I just have to focus, stay positive and stay alive for my baby.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, revealed on air in 2011 that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. “Luckily for me, I am one of the fortunate ones; we discovered it in the earliest stage, it hadn’t spread, and I’m already back at work with a terrific prognosis,” she said. “I’m looking at this as another of life’s lessons. For you women out there and the men who love you, screening matters. Do it. This disease can be completely curable if you find it at the right time.”
While filling in for Regis Philbin on Live! With Regis and Kelly in 2009, Bryant Gumbel revealed he’d had surgery on his lung to remove a tumor. “It’s nothing to hide from,” Gumbel said. “They opened up my chest, they took a malignant tumor and they took part of my lung and they took some other goodies. And the pathology on most of the stuff had been benign, but enough aggressive cells had escaped the tumor that it warranted some treatment and I went through that and it’s done now.” One year later, he spoke about his prognosis with PEOPLE. “I’m still doing well,” he said in 2010. “Doctors tell me I’m free and clear, so I hope for better times.”
anchor Hoda Kotb had a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, and she shared excerpts from a video diary she kept throughout the procedure with viewers later that year. “Cancer gave me the gift of being fearless,” she told Ann Curry. “What I get from this whole horrible ordeal is ‘You can’t scare me.’ In 2012, Kotb celebrated five years of being cancer free.
Katie Couric, who cofounded the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance in 2001, has worked to raise awareness for cancer research since losing two loved ones to the disease. “[Cancer] completely destroyed my family twice. My husband, Jay, died when he was 42 and our daughters were 6 and 2,” Couric told PEOPLE in 2008. “Three years after that, my sister, Emily, who had ironically read the eulogy at my husband’s funeral, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.” Her sister passed away in 2001 at the age of 54. Couric became a spokesperson for colon cancer awareness that same year. The on-air colonoscopy she underwent in 2000 is thought to have inspired many viewers to follow suit.