Sandra Lee Seen for the First Time Since Split from Gov. Cuomo Taking Uncle Who Has Cancer to Doctor
Sandra Lee and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who first met in 2005 and began dating soon after, announced their split on Wednesday
The celebrity chef and author, 53, was spotted on Thursday taking her uncle Bill who has cancer to a doctor’s appointment, PEOPLE can exclusively confirm.
The outing marks the first time that Lee has been seen in public since announcing her split from Cuomo, 61, earlier this week.
Walking arm-in-arm, Lee was photographed escorting her uncle through the parking lot and into the doctor’s office, as he also relied on his cane to get around.
The former Food Network host wore an all-black ensemble paired with a black ball cap, sunglasses and leather bag, while Bill sported a red T-shirt, jeans and white sneakers.
Aside from being Lee’s first public outing since her split, the day also held special significance as it marked her uncle’s 60th wedding anniversary to his wife and Lee’s aunt Peggy Jo.
Opening up about the milestone in a Facebook post, Lee revealed because her uncle had been battling with his health for so many years, but has continued to beat the odds, the anniversary was extra meaningful to him and his family.
“Everyone in the family is truly excited as Uncle Bill has had so many medical issues over the last three years. It has felt like we have all been fighting back the Grim Reaper and his doctor is shocked that he is here to celebrate today,” she admitted. “But I have to say God loves Uncle Bill!”
“He goes to church every single week no matter what condition he is in,” she continued. “And has been an amazing example to everyone in our family.”
Lee went on to describe how much of an impact her aunt and uncle have had on her life, beginning at the age of 21 when they asked her to live with them in Los Angeles.
“My Aunt and Uncle are like parents to me,” she explained, adding that her uncle willingly turned his in-home office into a bedroom for her, helped her create a real business and always welcomed her home with a hot cup of coffee and meal after business trips.
Lee also credited her aunt for helping with her home decorating business and said she worked so hard “that she actually got carpal tunnel from all of the sewing and pinning.”
“This past summer, we took my uncle on a bucket list trip but the most important things on his bucket list is to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary and to renew his vows with my Aunt Peggy at Saint Monica‘s church…our family church,” she finished. “I am so grateful that God has allowed him these extra years as we all know every single day as a gift.”
“My Aunt and Uncle have truly taught me what it means to be family. So happiest 60th anniversary Aunt Peggy and Uncle Bill. I love you with all my heart and I am grateful every day for you both!” Lee added.
Lee and Cuomo, who first met in 2005 and began dating soon after, announced their split on Wednesday, saying in a joint statement, in part: “Over the recent past, we have realized that our lives have gone in different directions and our romantic relationship has turned into a deep friendship.”
A source echoed that, telling PEOPLE, “Sandra has given everything to their family in the last 14 years and adores Andrew’s daughters. The relationship essentially turned from a romantic relationship into a friendship.”
The source also added that, despite what they shared, Cuomo and Lee had not been together much in recent months.
“The couple spent the summer apart, as Andrew was tied to Albany [the New York capital] and Sandra has spent a lot of time on the West Coast caring for her uncle who has been diagnosed with colon cancer and a failing heart,” the source said. Lee took her uncle “on an extended bucket list trip.”
She has also been in Los Angeles seeking additional treatment after breast cancer reconstruction complications, according to an insider. (Lee had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.)
Shortly after making the announcement, Lee spoke out to PEOPLE and reaffirmed how she has a lot of affection for Cuomo — and always will.
“Andrew will always be one of the greatest loves of my life and we will continue to be family,” she said.
“His daughters and I share an incredibly close bond,” Lee continued, referring to Cuomo’s three daughters with Kerry Kennedy: Michaela and twins Cara and Mariah.
“I will continue to be there for them as I have been for the last 14 years,” she added.