American TV viewers have become accustomed to watching morning infotainment talent having various on-air health checkups since Katie Couric had her celebrated on-air colonoscopy more than a decade ago. Most recently, Matt Lauer and Al Roker got their prostates checked on Today, and last month, ABC News’ Amy Robach got her very first mammogram on ABC’s Good Morning America as talent across the morning infotainment-show landscape plugged Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What viewers are not used to is that TV personality announcing, not long thereafter, that they have breast cancer and will have a double mastectomy. That “first” fell to Robach, a few weeks after her October 1 on-air mammogram resulted in a cancer diagnosis. On GMA this morning, and in a post on ABC.com, Robach said the mammogram was something she had agreed to do only at the request of a GMA producer, and that she had breathed a sigh of relief once it was over. The cancer concerns were not raised during that broadcast. But a few weeks later, she said, when she thought she was going back in for a few follow-up images, she learned she had breast cancer.
“On Thursday, November 14, I will go into surgery where my doctors will perform a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery,” Robach said online. “.Only then will I know more about what that fight will fully entail, but I am mentally and physically as prepared as anyone can be in this situation. And while everyone who gets cancer is clearly unlucky, I got lucky by catching it early, and there are so many people to thank for making sure I did. Every producer, every person who urged me to do this, changed my trajectory.”
The thinking behind on-air checkups is to calm fears of millions about the tests; Couric’s colonoscopy was credited with a substantial spike in the number of people getting the procedure. But today’s news is uncharted territory; yet to be seen is whether a result like Robach’s inspires millions of women, or scares them.
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