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Three Talk Show Hosts Who Have Battled Breast Cancer

Celebrating breast cancer awareness by celebrating our talk show survivors


Three Talk Show Hosts Who Have Battled Breast Cancer

Talk show host and comedian Wanda Sykes

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Every year, more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and more than 40,000 succumb to the illness. And the disease knows no boundaries. Women from all walks of life - young and old, rich and poor, black and white - are diagnosed with breast cancer.

That includes the world of entertainment. Some of our favorite talk show hosts have fought, or are fighting, breast cancer. So to honor these women and their battle - and to help other women who are just beginning their fight - we spotlight our talk show friends and survivors.

Wand Sykes
Wanda Sykes hosted The Wanda Sykes Show on Fox for a season in 2010. After her show was cancelled, Sykes considered breast reduction surgery. During that surgery, doctors discovered something shocking. Sykes shared the story with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres on her show in September 2011.

"It wasn't until after the reduction that in the lab work that they found that I had DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) in my left breast," Sykes told DeGeneres. "I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer. So I was very lucky."

That discovery led to a difficult decision. She could return to the doctor every three months to have the cancer checked by mammogram and MRI. Or she could make a more difficult decision.

And that's the decision she made - to have a bilateral mastectomy, or have both breasts removed. With a history of breast cancer in the family, and an admitted problem remembering to get things done, the decision was the right one for Sykes.

"Now I have zero chance of having breast cancer," Sykes said.

After Sykes told her story, DeGeneres said, "I just admire the hell out of you."

Robin Roberts
It was an early morning in July 2007 when Robin Roberts, co-host of Good Morning America, announced live on the program that she had breast cancer. Roberts discovered the cancer during a self-examination.

Though Roberts' cancer was an early form, she underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. She was back to work six days after surgery, and though she wore a wig on camera for some time during her chemotherapy treatment, she eventually ditched the wig.

Roberts revealed in a USA Today interview that she felt some shame for getting cancer, though she admitted it was a silly thing to think. "It was part of the reason I almost didn't go public with my diagnosis," she told the magazine. "I was embarrassed. I felt, I've always talked about exercising. And I got cancer. And then I realized it's a great example of showing that cancer can hit anyone at any time."

Hoda Kotb
In 2007, Today show co-host Hoda Kotb revealed her breast cancer illness. Her doctor discovered the cancer during a routine check-up. She eventually underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Kotb kept a video diary after her diagnosis and shared it with Today viewers. "Cancer gave me the gift of being fearless," Kotb said about the mastectomy. "What I get from this whole horrible ordeal is 'You can't scare me.'"

In an October 2008 blog post Kotb wrote, "I have a message for those women who are in the middle of their fight with the disease: I know you feel like you're in hell now, but your life is about to get a whole lot better."

Kotb, now a breast cancer awareness advocate, continued, telling survivors that they have two lives - the one before cancer and the one after. "I am here to tell you your second life is going to be so much better that the first."

She went on to say that as her body healed from her surgery, her mind healed as well, giving her a new confidence that led to her hosting the fourth hour of Today. (Kotb asked for the position, something she says she would not have done before her cancer.)

"The most surprising side effects of cancer is that it has give me more courage that I ever thought possible," she writes. "My life after cancer is more courageous and more honest and fuller that my life before."

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