It was a little different having Amber with me during that Oscars broadcast, because I wanted to make sure she was taken care of. She's very low maintenance, which I greatly appreciate. She knows when I'm on assignment I have to concentrate and focus my energy on work. That's why she doesn't often ask to accompany me on trips like this. She has a lot of great friends on the West Coast, so she entertained herself while I worked.
I don't have a lot of downtime when I'm in LA. I'm meeting with GMA producers and producers for the Red Carpet show. We have many rehearsals and run through the show a few times. But I do manage to have lunch or dinner with friends out there. The day after the Oscars I did an extra shoot with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump and, of course, her adorable dog, Giggy. Lisa is such a lovely person inside and out. She has a commanding presence, oozing beauty and femininity. The interview took place at her gorgeous new home. It's a grand setting: No detail is overlooked or spared. I was impressed that Lisa did all the decorating herself. The master bedroom closet alone is as large as my first apartment, yet this massive house still feels like a warm home. The interview was for an ABC 20/20 special I anchored called "Pet Crazy.” It's well known how crazy I am for my Jack Russell, KJ (that's Killer Jack). After the interview, Lisa graciously invited me and my crew to join her and her husband at their restaurant, Villa Blanca, in Beverly Hills. Lisa and her handsome husband, Ken Todd, are so down-to-earth. They included everyone in their lively conversation. Their restaurant is spectacular, sexy and stylish (words I long to be used to describe me one day!).
At Ken's insistence, I had the English Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert. It's a family recipe, straight from his grandma Edith. It was my first time trying the British dessert, which consists of a very moist sponge cake and finely chopped dates, all covered in toffee sauce. It doesn't hurt that it's also served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Actually it did hurt my waistline, but who cares. It is one of the most delectable dishes I have ever eaten.
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Between my extra shoots and rehearsals I go to the hotel gym as much as possible; gotta look good in that Oscar dress! I usually have the dress picked out before I get to LA. I'm fortunate that designers like to work with me. One year, GMA viewers voted online and picked the dress I would wear. They selected a gorgeous orange gown from J.Crew. I was so proud to wear it among the stars wearing more expensive gowns. After my workout, I like to sit out by the pool for a bit to soak up a little LA sun. I also get a mani-pedi in the hotel spa the day before the Oscars.
My Team Beauty, Elena George and Petula Skeete, travel with me, and that makes it all extra fun. Elena, my makeup artist, has won three Emmys and worked with many A-list celebrities. She sees her journey as being more than about physical beauty. She says, "Every day I ask God to give me the creativity and innovation to make women more beautiful than they were the day before.”
Petula, who does my hair, is a little taller than me and is originally from Nevis. Her singsong accent always transports me to a warmer place. Both Petula and Elena love going to the Oscars. The looks they get to create for the Red Carpet are on a whole other level than what they can do for morning TV. Elena enjoys the extra makeup she gets to use on me: longer fake eyelashes, the more dramatic colors. We are a true team. We spend a lot of time together and trust that we always have each other's best interests at heart. In 2007, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, they were both on vacation. It's rare that that happens. They felt so bad that one of them was not there with me. They vowed right then and there never to be off at the same time. One of them is always with me.
It was all so much fun, but my exhaustion was off the charts. I was so tired, I could barely focus. Truth be known, when I was backstage at the Oscars, I noticed a little lump in my neck. I even asked my producer, Emily, to check it out. When I felt the nodule in my neck, I really wasn't too concerned. I had a couple of nodules biopsied in recent years and it always turned out to be nothing. I may not have even bothered to have it checked if Amber had not been there. She was the one who insisted something wasn't quite right with me.
I was about to go on the air for the Red Carpet show when I spotted Amber and Jason. They made such a stunning couple. They made several passes so they could see me in action. It was an incredible year for movies: from Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady to Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in The Help, from George Clooney in The Descendants to the miraculous underdogs, the cast and crew of The Artist, who helped make a silent film a smash. Angelina Jolie, dressed in a high-cut black Atelier Versace gown, boldly flashed her right leg, and the resulting memes nearly broke the Internet. I knew, even before I set a single high-heeled foot on that Red Carpet, that it would be a wonderful show, full of moments and memories that I would carry home with me.
I had been told that one day I would wake up and not even think about cancer. When I woke up that Sunday morning before the Oscars, cancer was the furthest thing from my mind. As far as I was concerned it was in my rearview mirror.
Everybody's Got Something by Robin Roberts with Veronica Chambers. Copyright © 2014 by Robin Roberts. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.