Closer Weekly - - Contents -

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.

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