James Keivom Robach at the ‘Good Morning America’ studios last week. – New York Daily News

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiJames Keivom/New York Daily News ‘Good Morning America’ co-host Amy Robach tells the Daily News of her fight against breast cancer, her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, her chemotherapy treatments, and her quick return to the airwaves.


Imagine baring your soul to 6 million people at once — and having no recollection of the moment.


It happened to “Good Morning America” news anchor Amy Robach, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and took a leave of absence from the telecast to undergo a double mastectomy last fall. But the rising network news star with beauty queen looks and the iron will of a boxer returned to the telecast just three weeks after the major surgery.


The mother of two and stepmother of three also remained on the air through eight grueling rounds of chemotherapy and took only a week off earlier this month to undergo and then recover from reconstructive surgery.


The way Robach, 40, was diagnosed — she grudgingly underwent a mammogram in Times Square on live TV in October — has been well covered. But in an exclusive and in-depth interview with the Daily News, Robach reveals new details about her life-altering ordeal and why, despite her agony, she never stopped showing up for work.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiJames Keivom/New York Daily News Robach was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2013 after undergoing a mammogram on the ABC show and returned to work following reconstructive surgery from a double mastectomy.


“I was absolutely scared on many levels, because fear is such a part of cancer,” Robach said.


“The funny thing is I actually have thanked ABC News several times for letting me come back so quickly. I wanted to have something in my life to focus on other than doctors and needles and medicines and just looking at numbers and statistics and waiting for tests. It was such an amazing distraction. And interestingly enough, being afraid of what I might say or what I might forget to say on the air was just another part of the overall fear of cancer — it invades your body, it invades your mind.


“And so because I knew I was afraid of what might happen, that was exactly why I was going to keep coming to work, I needed to keep coming on the set every morning and face my fear. I did not want to let cancer — and the fear of what could happen to me physically or mentally while I was in front of 6 million people — I didn’t want to let that stop me from doing what I love.”


In December, Robach started chemotherapy. The powerful drugs doctors pumped into her system made her sick, caused about a quarter of her hair to fall out and, at times, blew away her memory. But she kept coming into work — even as she did and said things on television that she would immediately forget.


“When I was on the air, I felt like I was functional. But chemo is cumulative, so each round it hits you harder and it has some pretty scary side effects, like memory loss.


“The chemo brain, the chemo fog, is a real thing. I would have conversations with people, they would take pictures with me after the show and they would send them to me and say thank you and it took my breath away — it upset me tremendously because I actually wouldn’t be able to remember taking that picture or having a conversation, and for me that was one of the hardest side effects of chemo. I was so afraid I was gonna drop the ball or just do or say something stupid because I wasn’t in my sharpest mode.


“Here’s an example, and I only know this happened because I have seen the picture from a segment we had done about ‘Mad Men,’ ” she said.


“During the break we had a whole wardrobe change, they picked out a new dress for me and they had us wear 1960s-style glasses and they changed our whole look — but I did not remember doing any of it.


“The next day I saw pictures from the segment and I started asking people, ‘Why am I in another dress? And why do I have those glasses on?’ and I was told, ‘Because we did the ‘Mad Men’ segment.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiJames Keivom/New York Daily News Robach, with ‘GMA’ weatherman Lee Goldberg, said she stayed on air to prove that she could overcome her fears.


“It brought tears to my eyes because I just could not believe that I couldn’t remember doing any of it. I figured that out when I was in the moment, doing things, I functioned — but I couldn’t remember doing any of it afterward.”


In a heartbreaking moment of clarity, Robach said, she realized she had forgotten an emotional letter her husband, Andrew Shue, wrote to her following her first round of chemotherapy.


“My first round was really tough because there is so much anxiety,” she said. “I came back to work the next day and my husband had written this incredibly sweet note about how ‘I know you can do it, I know you are going to be amazing, I am so proud of you,’ it was just a beautiful note that he put in my purse and I read it the next day.


“Three days later I found the note in my purse and I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, look at this note that Andrew wrote me’ and Kaitlyn, my producer, said to me, ‘Are you kidding? You read that three days ago out loud to me.’


“For me those were very, very difficult moments. Because you just realize the impact of what is being pumped inside of you and you feel so incredibly vulnerable, physically, mentally. And those were the days I was just so afraid of what was happening to me.”


Last fall, after she first received the devastating diagnosis, Robach turned to a colleague, “GMA” co-host Robin Roberts, for help and advice. Roberts was treated for breast cancer in 2008 and was diagnosed in 2012 with the rare bone marrow disease myelodysplastic syndrome as a result of her cancer treatments.


Robach also turned to a longtime friend, “Today” co-host Hoda Kotb, who fought her own battle with breast cancer in 2007.


“Unless it’s happened to you, you don’t know how scary it is,” said Kotb. “But I told her, ‘I know a lot of people with breast cancer and they all have one thing in common — they’re all still here.’ ”


Roberts was integral when “GMA” producers decided they wanted Robach to have a mammogram. Even as Robach protested that she was too young and had no history of cancer in her family, Roberts helped persuade her to have the test as a way to encourage other women with similar characteristics to get tested.


Later, when Robach started chemotherapy, she had the same doctors and sat in the same chemo chair that Roberts did.


“She said, ‘Have your chemo on Thursdays because your worst days are going to be Saturday and Sunday. Those first few days are just really hard. That way you get your best shot at being able to come back to work Monday and be halfway decent.’


“I just have such a newfound, unbelievable level of respect and admiration for Robin because those of us who have gone through this know what it takes to do it and to be public and know that people are scrutinizing you, good and bad.”


As she fought the disease, Robach came under fire by critics who blasted her and ABC for not revealing the specific results of her mammogram and the ethics of having a journalist use her celebrity status to talk about her own health on television.


“They’ve used my picture to say, ‘Did a mammogram really save her life?’ and imply that if you’re gonna die from it, you’re gonna die of it and early screening doesn’t help.


“It makes steam come out of my ears, and I have a couple of different responses. First, mammograms aren’t perfect, but they’re what we’ve got, and a mammogram did save my life and if I had waited until I was 50 years old as they suggest, I don’t think I would have been around much longer. So while everyone’s cancer is different, mammograms and self-exams do save lives,” she said.


“In terms of being public with my testing and treatment, to date I have had eight women send me letters and thank you notes. They told me they found their cancer because they were inspired to get mammograms after they saw what happened to me, and I’ll take all the heat in the world for this because I know that I helped eight women detect cancer who wouldn’t have otherwise. So I’m fine with anything anyone else has to say.


“Also, the truth is that most of us who get into journalism do it to have an impact, to make change happen, to raise awareness and to open people’s eyes to problems. I never in a million years expected that this was going to be the thing that I would have an impact on, but it happened to me and I’ve tried to walk a thin line of privacy versus public awareness. Everyone is different.


“Those moments in the chemo rooms were very intense for me. When I was in that room, in that chair, I broke down every time. I pretty much cried for the entire three hours because there was no escaping the reality of what was happening to me and to my body. The rest of the time I could kind of pretend and forget. So, for those treatments, I couldn’t have cameras filming me. I was mad there was a needle in my arm, I was mad that there were toxins surging through my body, I was mad that I felt like I was gonna vomit and that I was losing my memory.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiJames Keivom Robach at the ‘Good Morning America’ studios last week.


As her hair began to fall out from the treatments, Robach, who wanted to remain on TV, faced a unique situation. Roberts’ solution had been to shave her head, but Robach didn’t think she could pull off the look — so after having long hair her whole life, she cut it short.


“I was so afraid of looking sick. It is one thing to feel sick, it’s another thing to look sick. By cutting it I took control, I decided what my hair is gonna look like. And then I let the chips fall where they may — I did get extremely lucky on the hair thing, only a quarter of my hair fell out. But I was prepared to shave it. I joke because Robin looked like a rock-star bald, I was just gonna look really sick. At the time I thought, ‘I don’t know if a white woman can pull it off the same way.’ ”


The experience has changed Robach, she said. And now that she’s on the other side of the treatment, she hopes to get involved with organizations that will help pay for testing.


“I’ll never forget how I got a phone call the day before I went for follow-up imaging after they found I had cancer and the doctor’s office said, ‘Just so you know, your insurance company is not gonna pay for this test — they don’t think they’re necessary. Just so you know, you will have to pay us about $800 out of pocket when you come in.’


“I’m lucky, I can pay for something like that now, but for millions of other women a call like that is such a deterrent. There were times in my life that that could have been my rent money, that could have been the money I would need to spend on groceries.


“How many millions of Americans would just at that point say thanks but no thanks? How many women would have been forced to cancel the appointment because treating cancer is an expensive undertaking and I know how it financially destroys families?”


She added, “Now I want to get involved with organizations that help families who don’t have financial options and are deterred to getting the initial mammogram or the follow-up image that could save their lives.”

James Keivom Robach at the ‘Good Morning America’ studios last week. – New York Daily News

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