“I was early stage and what the beautiful thing is about early stage cancer … is it gives you every option in the world, and that is what I took,” Lee said today on “Good Morning America.” “My doctors have said that I am cancer free and that I am ready to go.”
Lee, 49, celebrated being cancer-free by attending the Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles Sunday, wearing a 1970s Thierry Mugler pink gown that she says she owned but had not been able to wear before because of the neckline.
“I couldn’t wear it because I was a little bit too big on top, then I turned my mess, as you say, into my message and I got to wear that plunging dress,” Lee told "GMA" co-anchor Robin Roberts, herself a breast cancer survivor.
“I just want to say it doesn’t matter if you’re a DD, which I was, or an A, which I am,” Lee said. “Women are not just about their boobs, which is a statement I was making when I wore that dress.”
Lee said she will wait until February, after next year's Super Bowl, to decide whether to undergo reconstruction surgery.
"I don’t even know how I feel anymore," she said of the upcoming decision. "I feel so young and liberated."
Lee, who was diagnosed in March and underwent a lumpectomy prior to moving forward with a double mastectomy, has become an advocate for early detection and treatment for women.
The lifestyle guru - best known for her "Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee” television show, multiple cookbooks and a magazine – says she heard from lots of women, and had a conversation with her own doctor, after a New York Times article on treating cancer sparked a discussion.
“It was a front-page article about how to deal with DCIS and-or early stages of cancer and how you should have a wait-and-see approach, which is absolutely ridiculous,” said Lee, the longtime partner of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Why we would consider negotiating with cancer is beyond me,” said Lee, who had a second surgery after her mastectomy to treat an infection. “Let’s just wait and see what it does. It’s like a terrorist that lives inside your body and we’re going to wait and see what it does? We know what it’s going to do.
“I have a very clear perspective of what that is and I’m thrilled with my decision and I know what the decision is for every woman in my family,” said Lee, now an ambassador for Stand Up to Cancer.
Lee’s views, however, are not in line with the current breast cancer screening and treatment guidelines.
There has been controversy among doctors about the diagnosis of DCIS, or Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, and whether it is “dangerous enough” to merit action -- either lumpectomy or even mastectomy with radiation -- or treatment with cancer-repressing drugs, according to ABC News' Senior Medical Contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton.
A recent study found that women with DCIS died despite treatment, so doctors are debating the risks and benefits of treating vs. not treating, according to Ashton.
“All this speaks to a larger trend in the cancer world today; does every cancer need treatment? This concept is difficult for many, both patients and physicians alike, to embrace. There is strong opinion on both sides,” Ashton said. “For DCIS, we know that a certain percentage of women will go on to develop invasive breast cancer, we just don't have a good way of identifying who those women are right now, so few doctors and patients are willing to take a chance on not treating. Each woman is different. The decision of when to screen and if and how to treat should be individualized based on a patients’ family and personal history. Women should speak to their doctors to figure out their plan, and what risk they are comfortable with.”
Lee, who acknowledged on "GMA" that she is not a medical doctor, also called on women to take advantage of early detection technologies and treatments that are here because of the “beautiful leaders that came before us.”
“The researchers and the doctors and the nurses and the other warriors, not just breast cancer for all cancer, that came before us and that sacrificed their lives so that we could have early detection,” she said. “It’s only respectful to ourselves and to their work and what they gave up for us to get our tushies in there and get it diagnosed and then cut it out and take care of it.”