As a special correspondent for TODAY's #PinkPower series during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Joan Lunden has been lifting viewers' spirits with inspiring stories throughout the week. But on Friday it was time for her to get an emotional lift of her own.
As Lunden, who is battling breast cancer, finished fielding questions from TODAY viewers, she got a surprise on-air visit from her husband, children and new 1-month-old grandchild. She said their presence served as a great reminder to remember life’s pleasures even while undergoing agonizing medical treatments.
“This is the joy," she said. "You have to live in the moment, and you can’t be afraid of what you’re going through because you can’t forget to enjoy the joy that’s happening in your life."
Lunden’s daughter, Sarah Krauss, said she has learned a lot by watching her mother fight cancer.
“We’ve all grown up with our mom in the public eye,” she said. “And to see her go through this with such strength and bravery, I think that we can really all learn something from that and take a page from her book as we fight our own battles in life."
During her question-and-answer session, Lunden had encouraged viewers to show that kind of strength and bravery in the chaotic and confusing moments that can follow a breast cancer diagnosis.
“You’re almost shot at meteoric speed from the radiologist, on to a breast cancer doctor .... then you're sent to the oncologist," Lunden said. "I’m telling you, you can go to three different doctors, you can get three different opinions and then you’re left to be your own patient advocate."
Dr. Susan Drossman, a breast radiologist who helped Lunden answer questions, agreed that patients must be their biggest advocate while fighting cancer. She suggested breast cancer patients conduct as much research as possible and speak up anytime they have questions and concerns.
“Breast cancers are all very different. Breast cancers are not created equal, so one person’s treatment may be very different from another person’s treatment,” she said. “Be your own advocate.”