By Heidi Stevens, Tribune Newspapers
8:19 PM EDT, September 26, 2012
"Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts surprised and inspired her viewers when she ditched her wig on-air in April 2010.
"I am not my hair," she said at the time, almost three years into her breast cancer treatment. "I am the soul that lies within and that's it. No more wig. That's it." Her bravery was moving, and her words (paraphrasing an India.Arie song) even more so. We asked other prominent survivors to share their advice and wisdom gained from living with — and beating — breast cancer.
"You can never ask a stupid question. I asked every single question that came to my mind, and I believe that helped calm my anxiety about the whole process.
It's still OK to be scared about the cancer returning and feel anxious before every checkup, but that's also why I think continuing to talk to your doctor is important. It was very helpful for me to express my concerns and fears in the months following the end of my treatment. Right after I finished treatment, I was very focused on moving forward and getting back to work. But over time I've come to appreciate how the experience changed me."
— Actress Maura Tierney, spokeswoman for the Chemotherapy: Myths or Facts campaign (www.chemomythsorfacts.com)
"Try to learn from the experience. I think so often fears gets in the way from allowing one to use that experience to grow. Let go of the fear. Also, make every minute count. Go back to work and never stop. I found that on some scale there is always chronic pain from treatment. So rather than focusing on the pain, celebrate life and live it!"
— Activist Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure
"I'm a 12-year survivor, and I believe in completely forgetting about it and, as hard as it is, you just have to decide, 'It's behind me. It's over.' Every time I get together with a group of other survivors, it always turns into a celebration: 'I'm beating it!' 'I'm over it!' 'I'm not going to get it again!'
"Everybody has their days. I worry when I have my mammograms. But I try to turn the fear around and do everything I can to bring more awareness to it. Because I'm in touch with so many girls — all of our customers and fans — I'm always reminding them, 'Get your mammograms!' I'm so happy about the total, global kick-in of focusing on breast cancer and making everybody more aware."
— Fashion designer Betsey Johnson
"One of my doctors suggested I start going to a facility that wasn't the closest to me, but closest to the ocean. I arranged to meet a pal every day after my treatment and that would make us feel wonderful. There's nothing more gratifying than the ocean for me. It's very important to keep your mind busy with positive events and activities and the like. The most important truth? You start looking at every day in a more profound way."
— Entertainer Diahann Carroll, currently appearing in "White Collar" on USA Network
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