TODAY

TODAY   |  May 01, 2014

Hoda to cancer survivor: ‘You exude life and love’

In Thursday’s installment of TODAY’s “Love Your Selfie” series, cancer survivor Hoda Kotb joins three other female survivors of the disease to talk about reclaiming beauty after cancer.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> announcer: today's "love your selfie" is brought to you by dove. dove wants every woman's encounter with a mirror to be a positive affirmation of her beauty.

>>> all right. now to our week-long series "love your selfie." today we are talking about women , kancancer and the path to find beauty within the disease.

>> good morning. as a breast cancer survivor your first course of action is getting better but what happens to you physically as you go through treatment and after can be difficult for a lot of women . according to a number of recent studies, body imanimal issues are one of the most common psychological and emotional concerns for a patient. sometimes a smile, a laugh and a little self-indulgence can go a long way. i had the opportunity to do all three with these three remarkable women .

>> may name is madelyn and i'm 61 years of age. i was diagnosed with breast cancer . i had a lumpectomy done.

>> i will be 49 tomorrow. i was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago. eight years ago and this past christmas.

>> i'm a triple negative breast cancer which is a harder breast cancer . it was my choice to do a bilateral mastectomy.

>> my name is francine. i'm 29 years old and i was diagnosed with breast cancer . zblefr year you go through your mammogram and you cross your fingers.

>> the woman that did the sonogram knew right away. her face kind of gave it away.

>> you knew.

>> yes.

>> they said the word chemo and you thought --

>> i thought like sickness.

>> there was a point when for the very, very first time you got a look at yourself . what was your initial reaction when you did?

>> initial reaction was in shock. it was a loss. part of you that is there one day and gone the next. that was difficult. it's terrifying. it really is. you don't look like yourself.

>> my husband called them battle scars. those scars were my life. i never felt ugly. i never felt like i need to hide these scars. they're just a part of me.

>> i had them freeze my eggs because i'm so young and hoping to have children and i look at myself when i was with my hair and just everything that happened. terrible. it wasn't easy.

>> when other women look at this photograph that's on the "today" show, what are you hoping that they'll take from looking at you?

>> i want them to see how strong i am and how i'm not scared to be who i am even though what happened to me, i'm still me because those scars are my battle wounds and they're good scars because you made it through and you're here to show them.

>> every day i get up and i look in the mirror and you see less and less of yourself. all you have to do is look deeper. that's what i'm trying to do, look diaper inside myself and find that inner beauty , that inner peace and make peace with myself. and i think i have today.

>> i hope that it is not the end. it is the beginning. i want them to see me as a person, as a person who overcame it and, best of all, as a survivor.

>> we are so happy to have these amazing three women right now. can we introduce you to francine, pamela and madelyn. good morning, ladies. this is the first time you've seen those photographs.

>> yes.

>> look behind you. they are behind you as well.

>> oh!

>> what do you think?

>> it's amazing. i didn't think i could look that good.

>> it's interesting because all -- none of these three ladies wanted to take their tops off. we were there and it was such an awkward thing but what made you go through and step he in and do it. i know you had a lot of difficulty with it.

>> i had a huge problem. anybody who knows me, this is so out of my comfort zone . but i felt very proud, very proud to be with these women who are amazing. i felt very proud.

>> natalie, when you look at your gorgeous picture, do you think that's how i see myself?

>> definitely. definitely. what a rush.

>> you all three have wonderful, strong men in your life who are helping you through. you talked about how your fiance wanted to get married right when you were diagnosed because he wanted to be married to you when you went through it.

>> yes.

>> tell us a little bit about him.

>> he's amazing. he never left my side once through this whole thing and for him to want to marry me and to be closer to me while i was getting treatment and going through the surgeries and everything, he just helped me through this. he made me strong.

>> pamela , there are women watching right now who are in the middle of it. they are going through this right now. what do you want them to know? what do you want them to take away from what the three of you have so courageously done?

>> that truly was my sole reason for coming on the show. i thought if i could just reach one woman recently starting her battle. it is doable. it is not easy, there is not one thing easy about it but it is so doable and life on the other side is amazing. amazing.

>> and madelyn like exude humor and life and love. were you this way before breast cancer ?

>> sure.

>> this is your personality --

>> 61 years, girl. i have cultivated this. definitely.

>> your husband -- by the way, your family members are all looking on. he must have been such an influence, too, in your life.

>> yes. i didn't give him the option because i didn't know how i was going to be. the option of staying with me or not. and god, darn it, he did. i'm so happy.

>> can we be shallow for a moment. i mean are we thinking 8x10 glossy for a moment? poster size? will you proudly display these photographs? oh, pamela says no. national tv and that's it?

>> you've meant so much to us. thank you for being here. you're so brave. hoda has written a special essay on how you felt, how you went through this process. check that out on today.com.