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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Double mastectomy for ABC's Amy Robach

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MATT LAUER and Al Roker got prostate exams on NBC's Today show last week -- while their colleagues giggled on-air and the snarky tweets rolled in. But just days later, ABC News correspondent Amy Robach shared some very personal news that should shut down snide comments the next time a medical procedure is broadcast on morning television.

Robach told viewers Monday she has been diagnosed with breast cancer after a mammogram performed last month live on Good Morning America.

The visibly emotional journalist, 40, said she had been putting off her first breast exam -- and was especially nervous about doing it on television, a request from a producer for a breast cancer awareness segment. But GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts, who publicly shared her own battle with breast cancer and then a rare blood disorder, convinced her it was important because it might save someone's life.

"I know me, and I wasn't in any rush to have that done any time soon," said the mother of two young girls, whose husband, actor Andrew Shue, was in the studio for support. "Little did I know that I would be a walking example of 'having a mammogram saved my life.' "

High-profile names undergoing medical tests on TV is relatively new: Katie Couric famously started the trend in 2000 with an on-air colonoscopy; Kathy Griffin got a poolside Pap smear for her Bravo reality show. But Robach's diagnosis is an unsettling first: What appeared to be a routine morning show segment resulted in her doctors finding cancer.

That should be an especially powerful motivator for her fans, public health officials said Monday. When a celebrity goes public with any health issue, more viewers get themselves checked out. Solid numbers are tough to nail down, but the behaviour does have a name: The Couric Phenomenon. The year the former Today show co-anchor highlighted the importance of colonoscopies after her husband died of colon cancer, screenings for the disease spiked.

And now Robach -- who announced she will undergo a double mastectomy on Thursday -- is expected to have a significant impact.

"This particular example is so striking," said Richard Wender, the American Cancer Society's chief cancer control officer. "I am confident that it will encourage many women to at least ask their doctor about screening, and lead many women to the decision to be screened."

-- The Washington Post

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 12, 2013 0

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