AP NEWS

’Good Morning America’s Amy Robach seizes life in a new way

April 17, 2018 GMT

Amy Robach has a way to deal with social media haters. “I read the mean tweets out loud,” the “Good Morning America” news anchor says. “It takes the sting away and makes them quite funny.”

After nearly 25 years in the business, Robach says she has gotten used to critics but her husband – actor and activist Andrew Shue – counsels her to hold back on what she says on television.

“When you’re an actor, you don’t want to say a lot about your private life to maintain that mystery, so you can play a lot of roles,” the 45-year-old Michigan native says. “But I’ve always been open. I don’t want to air all my dirty laundry, but I also don’t want to pretend my life is perfect.”

Case in point? In 2013, Robach underwent a mammogram on the morning show and later revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy during which doctors discovered another malignant tumor in the other breast. Chemotherapy, radiation and reconstructive surgery followed.

Others told her to keep the news to herself. She thought otherwise.

“I was doing (the mammogram) as a public service for other women and it truly saved my life. I knew I could be a voice – it wasn’t even an option.”

Robach kept viewers informed and, in the process, found strength from bringing others on the journey. “I got such amazing encouragement,” she says. “Being on the receiving end of that positive energy got me out of the fetal position each morning. I felt, ‘I can do it for them.’”

Too many women who receive a cancer diagnosis keep it to themselves, Robach says. “Nobody likes pity – people look at you like you’re dying and you see those sad eyes. But I felt the more I talked about it, the less awkward it was. Accepting love and support is hard to do, particularly for women – we’re master jugglers. But if you realize you can’t do it all and you let people help you, you feel love in a way you never felt before. It strengthened my friendships, forged new friendships and made me realize how blessed I really was.”

Before Robach underwent surgery, an agent called and said there were publishers reaching out wanting her to document her experience. Family members advised against it. But, again, Robach felt it might help – her and others.

“I wrote as I went through treatment and it was incredibly cathartic,” she says.

Now, she tells others in a similar situation to keep a journal – “write out things you don’t want to say out loud. It helped.”

While Robach hasn’t gone back and read the book, her daughter, who is 11, had to read an autobiography and she chose mom’s, “Better: How I Let Go Of Control, Held on to Hope and Found Joy in My Darkest Hour.”

“She told me, ‘I didn’t know what you were going through.’ I’m not ready to read it again,” Robach says. “I read through it so many times that year. Reliving that would be hard right now, particularly if there’s a threat of recurrence.”

Cancer, Robach says, changed everything in her life “in every single way.

“I live my life completely differently than I did before it. I take advantage of every moment with my kids. I don’t wait to do anything. And I spend my money on vacations.”

Robach, the mother of two, stepmother of three, has taken her family around the world, bought them tickets to “Hamilton” and looks for situations that can be “experiences.”

“Every six months, I get a blood test and I know I can get bad news. But I want to be able to look back and say I’ve made the most of the time I’ve had with them. Even when I’m experiencing pain, I choose not to complain. As a result, I’m a better wife, daughter and mother.”

Daily news events – things she reports on “Good Morning America” – remind her how precious life can be. “I now choose the moments that take me away from my kids,” she says. “And, whenever I can, I throw huge parties. I want to have fun. The main goal in life is to enjoy it.”

Those haters on social media? They don’t even faze her.

“Own everything that comes out of your mouth,” she says. “Words can be weapons or healers. Realize there’s always a positive way to deal with a problem. You don’t have to say something negative in return. And just remember: be your own best version. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but none of those people would have the guts to say some of those things to your face.”