AFTER BEATING CANCER, THE FORMER GMA HOST HAS A NEW LIFE PURPOSE
The beloved country singer’s wife and children carry on his legacy with a new charity.
Joan Lunden often steps out looking pretty in pink. Her color choice is more than just a fashion preference, though, it’s indicative of how she’s changed her life since her 2014 breast cancer diagnosis. Now, she’s cancer-free and proud to raise awareness. “I am doing fabulous because I am done with all of my treatment,” she says. “The silver lining of that very tough battle is that I got sent on a new mission.”
Closer caught up with Joan, 67, at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation
New York Symposium and Awards on
Oct. 19, where the former Good Morning America host spoke in support of her new purpose — advocating for breast cancer research and awareness. Having cancer “definitely changes you,” she admits, but beating the illness has brought her full circle. “I am the daughter of a cancer surgeon, who always thought I would be a doctor,” she explains. But Joan’s dad died in a plane crash when she was 13, and she discovered medicine wasn’t for her.
After her diagnosis, however, she found she could harness her experience as a TV host in a new way. By sharing what she learned during her illness, she says, “I can be an advocate and carry on [my dad’s] legacy.” Her top lessons are to be vigilant with your health and learn to accept help. “I am kind of type A,” she admits. “I had a difficult time accepting care, but you have to accept the emotional support.”
Joan’s husband, Jeff Konigsberg, and her seven kids — three daughters from her first marriage and two sets of twins she and Jeff had through a surrogate — offered love and encouragement. Now, she raves, “all of them are doing fine.”
Having “come out on the other end,” Joan is grateful for all the family and friends who reached out to her. “[I’m] so appreciative of everyone who stood by me. Quite honestly, you become appreciative of everything,” she tells Closer, “like every sunrise, every sunset — even when the dog rolls over!”
— Lisa Chambers, with reporting by Jaclyn Roth
Joan, with her dad, oncologist Dr. Erle Blunden Joan’s family helped her through her health ordeal. Accepting their help “was hard for me,” she admits.