COMMENTARY|Samantha Harris, the perky TV news host, actress and reporter has been in the news as of late because of her ongoing battle with breast cancer but it is her positive attitude and willingness to take charge of her own life that is remarkable. The 40 year old wife and mother of 2 recently spoke with Billy Bush of Access Hollywood about her discovery, her diagnosis and her treatment choices as well as her outlook for the future.
Harris’s story starts in October of 2013, just before her 40th birthday. She had a baseline mammogram and was given a clean bill of health. Just 11 days later she discovered a lump during a self-examination. Visits to her OB/GYN and internist resulted in confirmations that there was no cancer and she had nothing to worry about.
After 4 months of fretting over the lump, Harris sought the counsel of a specialist. The ensuing MRI, needle biopsy and ultrasound all came up negative for cancer. Still a lumpectomy was performed as a precaution. In the recovery room she was told there was nothing to worry about. A week later, Harris got the devastating pathology results – breast cancer.
A diagnosis of cancer would rock anyone’s world. Harris was immobilized with anxiety and worry for a few days but then she decided to take action. That’s the type of person she is. All you have to do is look at her website, Samantha Harris, to see her positivity at work even before her diagnosis. Her dedication to fitness and living a healthy life as well as her devotion to a number of charities is evident. Her words are always those of encouragement, support and empowerment.
Once the shock wore off, Harris swung into action, visiting 6 different oncologists with varying treatment specialties and 2 plastic surgeons. Her fact-finding mission enabled her to evaluate her options and choose thee treatment option that best suited her. She elected to have a double mastectomy to give her the greatest odds of beating the cancer and to avoid having to undergo chemotherapy.
When she awoke from the mastectomy, she learned they had discovered the cancer had spread. Her lymph nodes in her arms had been removed. Only one contained cancer but the diagnosis typically means that chemo is necessary. Harris is currently 6 weeks post op and is still considering her options for the next step of her treatment.
The message the former “Dancing with the Stars” co-host and fitness devotee wants to get across is that it is really important for women to be comfortable with your body, to know your body.” She said “Being healthy, eating right, exercising regularly helps to be in tune with your body.” Had she not been following her own advice, she might have missed the lump and the outcome could be very different than what it is today.
Harris has resumed exercising and is sharing her story to encourage others facing breast cancer and the challenges it brings. On June 27 Samantha tweeted “Knocked it out today! 2 hr 15 min #hike with one my awesome new fighter/survivor friends!! We stand strong together! http://www.whosay.com/l/zbE8F0m” as a message of hope for others. Her proactive outlook and her message are inspiring to me and remind me that I am my own guardian and care taker. That is the message she wants everyone to hear.