Former Good Morning America co-host Joan Lunden returned to the program to announce she is battling breast cancer on June 24. The veteran broadcaster spoke with current GMA co-host Robin Roberts about her recent diagnosis.
Here’s what you need to know about Lunden and her ongoing battle:
1. Lunden Described Her Cancer as ‘Aggressive’
Lunden, who co-hosted GMA from 1980 to 1997, returned to the program to tell breast cancer survivor Roberts and the rest of the GMA family that she had “heard those four words that every woman fears and never wants to hear: You have breast cancer.”
Watch the video above to see Lunden’s announcement.
Due to the “dense, fibrous tissue” in her breasts, the cancer didn’t appear on her mammogram, but showed up during an ultrasound. Her cancer is the “more aggressive kind” so her treatment will include chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
2. Lunden Told Her Twins About the Cancer This Past Weekend
It's "Teacher Appreciation Week" & my kids took yummy cupcakes to their teachers today! pic.twitter.com/t1iIaF7FPj
— Joan Lunden (@JoanLunden) May 7, 2014
Lunden debated whether to keep her diagnosis a secret or to go public with the news like she had with much her life in the past. She wrote in her blog about her decision to make the public announcement on GMA:
I have decided to talk about my breast cancer because since the moment I took the job at Good Morning America I have lived my life sharing my joys and my disappointments with all of you: my pregnancies, my relationships, my career… I have shared my journey. So it certainly didn’t feel right keeping this part of my journey a secret.
— Joan Lunden (@JoanLunden) June 19, 2014
Before speaking with Roberts and the rest of America, she sat down with her two sets of twins to break the news. Because doctors caught the cancer early, Lunden said she was able to tell Max and Kate, age 11, and Jack and Kimberly, age 9, that “mommy’s going to be okay.”
She also called her husband, Jeff Konigsberg, “a rock” during this difficult time, and her three older daughters (from her first marriage with Michael A. Krauss) have attended all of her appointments. Her daughters are Jamie, born in 1980, Lindsay, born in 1983, and Sarah, born in 1987.
3. She Knew No Woman Was Exempt From Breast Cancer
Lunden, a health advocate, described the news of her cancer as “a shock” and “a stunner.” According to her blog, she considered herself a “fit and healthy” person without any prior family history of breast cancer.
The longtime reporter knew from her coverage of the cancer over the years that “none of us are exempt.” She wrote in her blog about the action she took shortly after learning the news:
I also knew that I had to jump into action quickly, put together a team, and find the best course of treatment for the kind of cancer that I have.
4. Her Father Was a Cancer Surgeon
— Joan Lunden (@JoanLunden) February 6, 2014
Lunden lost her father, Erie Murray Blunden, at age 14. The cancer surgeon was returning home from speaking at a cancer conference when his plane crashed. She wrote in her blog that she “admired my father’s passion to save lives and work toward a cure for cancer.”
Her own dreams of becoming a doctor ended when she “couldn’t hack the scalpels and the stitches,” she told Roberts, but she could use her public image to share the information she learns and inspire others to take care of their health.
Lunden is also a caregiver for her mother Gladyce Lorraine. She is the official spokesperson for A Place for Mom, a national senior care referral service.
5. She Runs a Summer Weekend Getaway for Women
As part of her healthy lifestyle, Lunden runs a summer weekend getaway for women of all ages in Naples, Maine called Camp Reveille. She encourages the campers to share their stories and that inspired her to come forward and share hers.