When the Person You Love Has Cancer
- Good Morning America anchor and breast cancer survivor Robin Roberts is once again encountering breast cancer, but this time, it is her partner Amber Laign fighting the disease.
- Roberts says Laign had surgery last month and will begin chemotherapy today, Feb. 24, 2022. The stage and type of Laign’s breast cancer has not been revealed, but Roberts says Laign’s prognosis is “good.”
- It is incredibly important for cancer patients to have a strong support system when going through what is most likely one of the hardest times of their lives, and just being there can do wonders. This is exactly what Roberts plans to do for Laign; she says she will be away from GMA from “time to time” as she supports her partner through treatment.
On Thursday morning, Roberts posted a video on both Instagram and Twitter announcing that she will be absent from the morning news show from time to time. Why? To support Laign through her breast cancer treatment.Read More
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Roberts adds that Laign had surgery last month and will begin chemotherapy today, Feb. 24, 2022. The stage and type of Laign’s breast cancer has not been revealed, but Roberts says in her video that Laign’s prognosis is “good.”
“We know many, many are facing cancer and other challenges — like my mama said, ‘Everybody’s got something,’” Roberts concludes. “Please know that you are in our prayers and hopefully we’re in yours, too.”
When the Person You Love Has Cancer
It is incredibly important for cancer patients to have a strong support system when going through what is most likely one of the hardest times of their lives, and just being there can do wonders. This is exactly what Robin Roberts plans to do for her partner.
“She (Amber) and I have been together almost 17 years,” Roberts says, “and have helped each other through our challenges, like my journey with cancer.” (Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, but more on that later.)
She adds that it is “my turn now to be there for her like she was for me. And that means I’ll be away from GMA from time to time, like this morning as she starts chemo.”
Illness, including cancer, is an experience that can surely take an emotional toll on the patient, but it can also take a toll on a partner or spouse, as well as their relationship.
This is something actress and melanoma survivor Jill Kargman can attest to as cancer was a true test of her relationship’s strength. In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Kargman says the disease “is a great way to find out if you’re with the love of your life or a shithead.”
“I think it presses the fast-forward button on getting to the bottom of that answer, because a lot of people in middle age are kind of at a crossroads, waiting for their kids to fly the coop,” Kargman says. “I think if you’re with someone who is not supportive and kind of emotionally checked out or doesn’t tell you you’re still beautiful with that, this might not be your person.”
Sharing Your Cancer Battle: It is a Personal Preference
Battling cancer is an extremely personal experience, and so is choosing who to tell about your diagnosis. For some people, it is a no-brainer to share their struggle and absorb as much support as possible, while for others, sharing the news is not so simple.
When sharing the news of her partner’s diagnosis, Robin Roberts says that the couple is thankful to those closest to them for keeping Laign’s diagnosis private until they were ready to share.
Dr. Marianna Strongin, a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Strong In Therapy Psychology, tells SurvivorNet that whether someone shares this heavy news is their personal preference.
“I recommend sharing, I’m a therapist,” Strongin says with a laugh, “but to whom and how many people is up to the person (with cancer).”
Since the emergence of social media, those who are comfortable with sharing personal information tend to find comfort in sharing with their online support system. Strongin says that what she has noticed is that a lot of people find comfort and support in sharing, “and I mean every part of their journey.”
From a psychological stance, “the more that we share, the less likely we are to feel shame, and shame is quite toxic; it makes us feel alone and it makes us feel like there’s something wrong with us. In that instance, it’s better to share; sharing is more connecting.”
But remember, there is no right way to accept your diagnosis. There is no handbook, there is no wrong way, either. Regardless of what you decide, “everyone should focus on what makes them feel good,” Strongin says.
Robin Roberts Battled Breast Cancer, Too
In 2007, Robin Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer. She chose to use her platform to build awareness around breast cancer screening and treatment, and she battled the disease in the public eye.
On top of her breast cancer battle, Roberts had to have a bone marrow transplant to treat her MDS (myelodysplastic syndromes) — a rare type of blood cancer that may have been brought on by her breast cancer treatments.
The morning news anchor’s efforts to spread breast cancer awareness actually resulted in her identifying her own breast cancer. In preparation for a story about the importance of early detection in breast cancer, Roberts performed a self-check at home and, to her surprise, she discovered a lump. Roberts proceeded to go through surgery to remove the cancerous tumor.
In a previous interview discussing surgical options for treating cancer, Dr. Ann Partridge of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute explains how she evaluates a patient’s treatment path.
“When I talk to a woman who comes to me and she has breast cancer, I evaluate what the standard options for treatment for her are, which typically include cutting out the cancer, which is either a lumpectomy if you can get it all with just a little scooping around of the area that’s abnormal,” she says, “or a mastectomy for some women, meaning taking the full breast because sometimes these lesions can be very extensive in the breast.”
“I’ll talk to a woman about that and I’ll say these are two main options, or the big fork in the road,” she adds.
Contributing: SurvivorNet staff reports