Book Excerpt: 'Better: How I Let Go of Control, Held On to Hope, and Found Joy in My Darkest Hour,' by Amy Robach

"GMA" news anchor Amy Robach details her battle against breast cancer.

ByABC News
September 28, 2015, 9:14 AM
GMA" news anchor Amy Robach's new book, "Better," details her battle against breast cancer.
GMA" news anchor Amy Robach's new book, "Better," details her battle against breast cancer.
Ballantine Books/Random House

— -- When "Good Morning America" news anchor Amy Robach underwent her first-ever mammogram in October 2013, live on "GMA" for breast cancer awareness month, she never imagined she'd hear the words: "You have breast cancer."

Just weeks later, Robach, then 40-years-old, shared the news on-air that she had breast cancer and then underwent a double mastectomy and eight rounds of chemotherapy to beat the disease.

In “Better: How I Let Go of Control, Held On to Hope, and Found Joy in My Darkest Hour,” Robach shares her journey, from how she and her husband, Andrew Shue, got the news and how she shared it with her two young children, to how she carried on in a public career while undergoing treatment.

Here is an excerpt from "Better," on sale in stores and online Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Excerpt: Better: How I Let Go of Control, Held On to Hope, and Found Joy in My Darkest Hour

A Beautiful Connection

My older daughter, Ava, was ten when I told her I had cancer. As she struggled to understand what was happening to me, she put her feelings down on paper and wrote a poem but then hid it, too embarrassed to let me see her words. Instead, she showed it to a dear friend and colleague of mine, Sara Haines. Sara and I first met and worked together at NBC, and now we’re lucky enough to work side by side at ABC. We’ve shared a lot of ups and downs over the years, and she’s become like a sister to me and an aunt to my daughters. Sara encouraged Ava to give me the poem. She said, “Your mom needs to read this.” And she was right.

Ava ran up to me one evening in the middle of my chemo treatments and handed me the neatly folded sheet of lined paper.

“Mom, please don’t read this in front of me,” she said as she hurried off to her bedroom and closed the door.

As I began to read Ava’s words, I was overcome with pride. My little girl had so much compassion in her beautiful heart; her empathy and optimism leapt off the paper. The title of the poem was perfect, simple, and powerful: “Better.” What a hopeful word. It stared back at me at a time when I felt the opposite. I was weak, but my daughter knew that I would be strong again. My tears started flowing. The voice of my ten-year-old astounded me as I marveled at her incredible wisdom. Her poem was a message of understanding and encouragement, from daughter to mother.

“Better” by Ava McIntosh

As she walks through the door with her head held up high

And a sparkle in those big blue eyes

That smile is contagious and I don’t know why.

This is her battle, yet she strengthens me.

This is her struggle, and she can’t be free.

This is her worry, but I have no doubt

She will survive without one pout.

She will be strong, stronger than ever.

She’s a fighter just like her daughter

It has to get worse before it gets better . . .

and trust me it will get better.

My younger daughter, Annalise, was only seven when she had to hear that her mommy had cancer. She spoke to me through her art, drawing me as a princess, as if to make me all-powerful. But at the same time, I noticed how she held on to me a little tighter than before, and I could see in her big brown eyes how much she needed me.

My daughters made me rise up in my darkest moments. I felt stronger, better, just knowing they believed I could conquer this horrible disease. I’ve come to recognize that there is no clearer mirror in the world than the reflection of yourself through your children.

Despite the fact that millions of women share this awful illness, cancer can feel very isolating. I’ve found over this past year that every time I share my story, other women share theirs, and a beautiful connection is made. It’s been a tremendous source of comfort for me, and it’s the reason I decided to write this book. As a journalist, I’m much more interested in telling the story than in being the story. But the fact is, I didn’t really have a choice about going public with my illness—I was tested on live television as a public service, and keeping quiet about the rest of my experience just felt wrong. My passion for journalism is rooted in the notion that by providing information we become stronger, more connected people. My goal is to share not only the daily challenges I faced as a newly diagnosed cancer patient but also the evolution that occurred as I transitioned from patient to survivor . . . to thriver. I am a different woman than I was before cancer. I am a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, and I’ve learned so much about myself. Perhaps the biggest lesson was one that I thought I knew yet too often forgot: The truth is, all I really need is exactly what I have right now.

You Want Me to Do What?

I’ve never been a big believer in fate. Too many awful things happen to too many wonderful people for me to accept that there’s a larger plan for “the greater good.” But that said, I have to admit, the events that led to my diagnosis all felt very fated.

I have so many reflections that begin with what if and thank God. What if I had stayed at my previous job at NBC and never switched to ABC? Thank God I jumped networks. What if I hadn’t become a larger part of the Good Morning America family, which happened only because of an unexpected twist in GMA host Robin Roberts’s second cancer battle? I’d filled in for Robin every other week for nearly a year while she was on leave for a bone marrow transplant to fight myelodysplastic syndrome. Thank God I was the one who got to step in. If these things hadn’t happened, I might never have received the email that ultimately saved my life.

Excerpted from BETTER by Amy Robach Copyright © 2015 by Amy Robach. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.