What to Do After a Cancer Diagnosis

What to Do After a Cancer Diagnosis


(audience applauds)
– For nearly two decades, you woke up with Joan Lunden as the co-host of Good Morning America. (audience applauds) – [Andrew] Yes we did! – But in 2014, she announced to the world that she had breast cancer. Joan is here with us today, and Joan, you’re the mother of seven, including two sets of twins. How did that breast cancer diagnosis–
– Listen to that, seven kids, it doesn’t make any difference how many presidents I’ve covered, it’s the seven kids.
– What a beautiful family. (laughing) (audience applause) – [Joan] You know, when
you hear those words, you have cancer, it just stops you in your tracks. And I was told I had something
called triple-negative breast cancer. Candidly at first I
thought, “Oh good, at least I’m negative to three things.” – You hear negative likes
that’s a good thing. – I know, but what it
really means is that, you don’t have any of the
receptors for which there is targeted treatment. And it meant that I was
going to have to have months and months of aggressive chemotherapy, and radiation, and surgery. – Here is a little excerpt
from Joan’s journey during that time. – [Joan] This is what
chemotherapy looks like. Well, I’m back from surgery and this is the best graham cracker. (laughs) All right here I am, this is round two of my chemotherapy regiment. It is Monday morning, January 5th, and this is the first day
of my radiation therapy. – So what inspired you to
share your story in this way? – Quite honestly my Dad
was a cancer surgeon, but all of a sudden I got this diagnosis and it was this odd opportunity to kind of pass the torch and go out
there and help educate people about cancer. About the fight about cancer. And the second I changed my focus from my cancer to the
fight against cancer, it just changed the whole
journey in the most positive way. (audience clapping) – And you also wrote a book. – Well I started taking
the video camera in everywhere I went and I
started hearing from people, I couldn’t believe the
response on social media. Who said, you took the scary out of it. Because I now knew what was gonna happen. And I kept a journal,
and I recommend everybody take somebody with you when
you go for an appointment and keep a journal, cause you
don’t remember everything. And that journal kind
of became, had I known, a memoir of survival. (audience clapping) – When it comes to treatment,
chemotherapy is one of the most common and powerful options, because it works to rapidly
kill growing cancer cells. But the down side is that
chemo can also harm healthy cells and it has sometimes
serious side effects. Fatigue, hair loss, appetite
changes, constipation and diarrhea, changes in
libido and sexual function, and infection. Just some of the things that
patients may experience, now Joan, what has been your
main focus when educating the public when it comes to cancer? – It’s really the risk of
infection that is so scary and I became passionate about trying to go out and educate people
and thus empower them. So that they understood
what was going to happen if they went through strong chemotherapy, that it was gonna put them at much higher risk for infection. It’s so important to ask
questions, talk to your doctors to find out ways to lower that risk. – Infection is one of the
most common life threatening complications of cancer,
and cancer treatment, because what happens it
weakens our immune system. So our immune system is
designed to protect us against infection, but cancer and chemotherapy reduce the number of infection
fighting white blood cells and infection can lead to sepsis, which is as we know, a
life threatening response to an infection. – Ways to avoid infection can include, washing your hands frequently,
avoiding large crowds, and those who are sick, bathing every day, not even keeping fresh
flowers or live plants in your bedroom, and not
cleaning up pet droppings. Also, do talk to your doctor
to find out when your white blood cell count will be
lowest, as that is when you are most at risk for infection. Now Joan, I have to ask you
what advice you have for others who are struggling with
a cancer diagnosis. – Become proactive, this is
one time when you really have to educate yourself. And I know people become
kind of discouraged when they first hear they’re
going to have to go through this long, long… I mean I knew that I had a
year that I was gonna have to fight this, but it’s
important that you learn what all the side effects
are and if you feel like you’re kind of in that depression of it, then take somebody with you,
but go in and ask questions. Become proactive, you
really have to when you have a major health scare like this. – You need to have as much information as possible.
– Yup, you do. – And on that note, you started
an educational initiative, didn’t you? – Yes, I’m really excited
to say that I am doing this in partnership with Amgen,
and we have launched something called, ATHOMEWITHJOAN.COM. We have a whole series of videos, I’ve been all over the
country interviewing cancer patients and survivors. They all have good tips. As well as a lot of different
health professionals. And another thing I
think that’s really good, is we have a guide that you can download, and what it gives you are questions. I didn’t know what any
of the questions were, that I should be asking my doctor. So we kinda give you a little cheat sheet. – Wow, it’s an honor and privilege. (audience clapping) – Thank you. – [Travis] Thank you
for being here, today. Hearing your story.
– Glad to see you doing so well.
– I love being here with you guys.
– Thanks for joining us. – Well we enjoyed it,
– Love this show. – Come back.
– Come back and visit us again.
– Love the show. (audience clapping)

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