Roberts's Lung Cancer Loss
- ABC anchor Robin Roberts, 60, shared that her colleague, photographer Jim Sicile, passed after a battle with lung cancer.
- Lung cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy.
- Roberts is a cancer survivor; she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, after detecting a lump during a self-exam.
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In the video she shares, Roberts says that Sicile was an “ABC ‘life-er.’ He started in the mailroom in 1972. No matter who you were, he treated you the same: Intern to anchor,” says Roberts. “Jim treated everyone like a friend.”
Robin’s Breast Cancer Battle
Just as Roberts said her colleague Jim treated everyone like a friend – so, too, does Roberts, who openly shared her breast cancer battle with the world, educating others in the process.
In 2007, Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she went through her cancer battle quite publicly, too. In addition to her breast cancer battle, the anchor had to have a bone marrow transplant to treat her MDS, a rare type of blood cancer. Roberts discovered her breast cancer while on the job: She was preparing for a news story about the need for early detection for breast cancer, and she performed a self-check at home. While doing an exam on herself, Roberts discovered a lump.
“At first I thought, ‘This can’t be. I am a young, healthy woman,’” Roberts said after the incident. She treated her breast cancer with surgery, one of several treatment options for this disease. Breast cancer can also be treated with radiation and chemotherapy. As Roberts discovered, early detection is critically important when it comes to saving lives and expanding treatment options as well.
When discussing surgical options to treat breast cancer, Dr. Ann Partridge, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, says in an earlier interview, “So 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 or a mastectomy for some women meaning taking the full breast because sometimes these lesions can be very extensive in the breast. And I’ll talk to a woman about that and I’ll say these are two main options or the big fork in the road.”
Lung Cancer Treatment Options
Roberts’s colleague Jim Sicile was battling lung cancer, an ABC report disclosed. While we don’t know the specific type of lung cancer Sicile had, we do know that there are several different treatment options for this disease.
Lung cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy. For those undergoing immunotherapy – which will commonly occur in stage four lung cancer patients – thoracic surgeon Dr. Brendon Stiles wants patients to have an awareness about the potential challenges presented by battling lung cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Stiles says, “Almost all stage four patients now who don’t have targeted mutations or rearrangements are on a path where they’re going to see immunotherapy during their treatment course.”
“And we really don’t know what the interaction of that is going to be with the virus,” he says. “I think you could probably argue both ways that it may completely throw your immune system out of whack and predispose you to infection. Maybe because you’re getting an immune stimulus, you’re going to be able to fight off viruses better.”
“I think we’re going to need a lot more data to really understand that better,” he continues. “Where we could potentially run into trouble is that some of these drugs can cause pneumonitis, inflammation in the lungs, some side effects.”
How to Cope with Loss
Coping with cancer-related loss – whether it’s the loss of a colleague, parent, or spouse – can feel overwhelming, even in the best of times. Dealing with grief during a global pandemic makes the process potentially even more difficult, due to the added day-to-day stressors of pandemic life.
In coping with grief, many turn to therapy and support groups which can effectively help you process your emotions. For Camila Legaspi, who lost her mom to breast cancer when she was in high school,” therapy turned out to be life-saving. “I was dealing with some really intense anxiety and depression at that point,” she says. “It just changed my life, because I was so drained by all the negativity that was going on.”
“Going to a therapist helped me realize that there was still so much out there for me, that I still had my family, that I still had my siblings,” says Legaspi. The reality is, is when you lose someone, it’s really, really, really hard. And it’s totally OK to talk to someone.”