Joan Lunden discusses how the time after beating cancer can be just as emotional as the battle

By Lindsay Kimble
Updated January 18, 2016 03:40 PM
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Credit: Jack Plunkett

Joan Lunden may have beaten cancer, but the former Good Morning America host says her life post-treatment has also been surprisingly bittersweet.

Lunden, who was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2014, tells Prevention as the magazine’s latest cover star that “the time after treatment can sometimes be more emotionally difficult than during treatment.”

“At least during, you’ve put yourself in the hands of these doctors, and everyone’s doing everything they can, you’re taking medication, and you’re fighting,” she shares. “Then, all of a sudden one day, they say, ‘Okay, bye!’ And you walk out the door and – well, I know I’m not alone in this, but I was an emotional basket case.”

Luckily, Lunden had her husband of nearly 16 years to lean on.

“My husband, Jeff Konigsberg, took me to get a necklace with a little pink stone that I’ve worn most days since,” Lunden says of commemorating her final radiation treatment. “So that was like a little ‘let’s celebrate.’ But I thankfully had been warned by the nurses that while everyone thinks you want to go celebrate, it’s interestingly and oddly emotionally difficult.”

And, she adds, “They were right. I cried like a baby.”

VIDEO: Joan Lunden Opens up About Her Year of Triumph Over Cancer

Lunden, who attended Prevention‘s R3 Summit in Austin, Texas, over the weekend to discuss the advancement of women’s health among experts and physicians, says she’s still “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

“Can you ever really feel safe and secure again?” she asks. “Cancer is not something that you get and get cured and never worry about again. It really isn’t.”

Now using her experience to help other women fighting breast cancer, Lunden says she’s been irrevocably changed.

“I’m not the same person I was two years ago,” she tells Prevention. “For one thing, I was always preaching to people about making healthy lifestyle choices, and it really took kind of getting hit between the eyes with a two-by-four to change my life.”

Pick up Prevention on newsstands Tuesday.