When Amy Robach was asked to have a mammogram live on Good Morning America, she was, understandably, a little hesitant.
The ABC presenter was 40, the age women are recommended to start having the breast checks, and the producer thought it would make a good contribution to ‘GMA Goes Pink’, a themed day for breast cancer awareness.
As a busy mum of five (Robach is married to ex-Melrose Place actor Andrew Shue, and together they have five children from previous relationships), and a full-time job, Robach hadn’t had a mammogram in her life – as she later said, “Like so many women, I just kept putting it off.”
She was unsure about doing it on TV, but was eventually persuaded by her colleague, GMA anchor Robin Roberts, as she explained in a piece pre-recorded before the event: “I went in to see Robin and she said, ‘You know what Amy? If one life is saved because of early detection, it’s all worth it.’”
She couldn’t have known just how prescient those words would be.
Robach had her mammogram filmed live on October 1 to help demystify the process for all women. She was visibly relieved afterwards – and also happy that it hadn’t hurt, as she’d feared. A few weeks later she was called in for what she thought was a simple follow-up appointment.
But she needed more scans and a "tornado of tests". And finally, a prognosis: she had breast cancer.
“The doctors told me bluntly: ‘That mammogram just saved your life’,” she wrote in a blog post.
“On Thursday, Nov. 14, I will go into surgery where my doctors will perform a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery. Only then will I know more about what that fight will fully entail, but I am mentally and physically as prepared as anyone can be in this situation.
"And while everyone who gets cancer is clearly unlucky, I got lucky by catching it early, and there are so many people to thank for making sure I did. Every producer, every person who urged me to do this, changed my trajectory.”
As she waits for her surgery and whatever the future holds, Robach continues to encourage others to get themselves checked, saying, “I can only hope my story will do the same and inspire every woman who hears it to get a mammogram, to take a self exam.”
“No excuses. It is the difference between life and death.”
Read Amy's full blog post and watch a video on her journey on the GMA/ABC website.