The legendary journalist says she had a lumpectomy five years ago

Updated October 09, 2014 09:20 PM
Fernando Lucena/Startraks

As the top honoree at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation luncheon on Thursday, former The View co-host Barbara Walters revealed her own very personal connection to the cause.

Standing at the podium in the Waldorf Astoria’s grand ballroom in New York City, Walters, 85, began her speech by asking the event’s host, Good Morning America‘s Amy Robach, to stand.

“There’s a lot of talk about me, but I want to share this honor with Amy,” she told the crowd. “When she discovered she had breast cancer, she handled it in the most magnificent, wise and sensitive way.”

But then Walters shared news of her own encounter with the disease.

“Some years back, more than five now, I discovered a small lump in my own breast. Under the expert care of [my doctor] I had a lumpectomy,” she said.

“I haven’t talked about it. There was no need to. There were other choices that were possible. This was mine. I told a few people and I’m fine. I wasn’t worried because I knew that the advances made in treating breast cancer including lumpectomies were possible. Research made my treatment possible.”

It wasn’t Walters’s first run-in with cancer. Following news of Angelina Jolie‘s double mastectomy last year, Walters revealed on The View that she’d had both of her ovaries removed in response to her sister’s passing from ovarian cancer.

As for breast cancer, “I can remember when it was a death sentence and it terrified me. It still frightens me,” Walters told PEOPLE at the luncheon, “But now we know there is treatment.”

Before taking her seat she joked to the crowd, “I’ll always remember this luncheon. Partly because of seeing all of your beautiful faces, and also because my bra is too tight.”

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