"I have breast cancer."
During an appearance on "The View" Friday, Gretta Monahan, the show's lifestyle expert, said it was "the first time" that she had "said that out loud."
Monahan said that she'd chosen to share her cancer experience on national television in an effort to encourage women to remind each other to take five minutes to give themselves breast self-examinations and see their doctors for annual screenings.
"I know some people are afraid. … But you got to get there," Monahan said.
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I’ve always loved the start of a new month...there’s something spiritually transformative in the sheer idea of a fresh start. June is only a couple of hours away promising blooms, warmer temps, loved ones birthdays. I’m filled with even more blessings,hope and gratitude than ever before but this past month I encountered the darkest and most terrifying days of my lifetime. I took this photo during my routine mammogram to share with you, friends, family and followers in hopes to help remind anyone out there to go in if they are due. I had to return 3 or 4 times for more images, I was not alarmed because I have had a previous biopsy in the past so it was not uncommon to need a few extra pictures to satisfy my incredibly meticulous and devoted radiologist Dr Susan Drossman. Once I entered the exam room she immediately confirmed my hope that she wanted more images of an area of cells that did not look highly suspicious. Needless to say I breathed a sigh of relief as I climbed up onto her table for the breast ultrasound. She began her examination rolling the wand over my right breast,we chatted about children work and mutual friends it was a typical appointment. She moved to my left breast and after a few minutes the conversation trailed off as I suddenly realized something had stolen her attention.She adjusted her screen and directed me to focus where she placed her fingers and explained to me what I was looking at she calmly and clearly stated “now this, I do not like”. She magnified the “lesion” and made it clear to me that is was very small, she pointed out in perfect detail where the edges were not smooth and why I would need a biopsy immediately. I adjusted my arm position to move onto the next quadrant of my breast and after a few moments she asked my attention again and said “ I don’t like this either”I asked is that the underside of the first spot? she said no this is a second site, this is when I remember taking an uncomfortable gulp and telling my self to stay calm and positive 3 tumors and 48 hours later the biopsies return results confirming that I have Breast Cancer. It’s early stage and I’m BEYOND blessed but it’s scary AF.
Monahan's cancer was discovered when she went for her annual screening in May, she said.
"Because I have dense breasts, I have a mammogram and ultrasound. My cancer was not detected on mammogram," she said. "I laid on the table for my ultrasound and after we got through talking about kids and catching up ... she said, 'I see something I do not like. I see a mass and I need to show you. It is small, but this is something I'll need to biopsy.'"
Monahan said she had a needle biopsy the next day, and a day later, she got the news.
"She called me at home -- I was with my husband -- and she said, 'I'm sorry to tell you this. You have breast cancer,'" Monahan said. "It was terrifying and it was shocking. … We kind of both just sat there and there was a long pause. And, I said to her, 'Are you sure?' She said, 'I'm sure. I’m sorry.'"
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Every day of my life, whether I’m working in my salons or spas, in my boutique styling, or on TV sharing style & beauty advice, I have a single objective: I want more than anything to make people FEEL HAPPY 😃 I get asked A LOT to share secrets on what makes someone look their most beautiful...I know that most often people are expecting the answer to contain a specific cult beauty product or designer label, but the #1 most important ingredient to looking our most beautiful is feeling HAPPY 😃 because joy, gratitude and unbridled laughter is a natural beauty booster like no other! That’s why I was so excited that Boston welcomed @wearehappyplace and could not wait to take my gang!
Monahan was advised to have a unilateral mastectomy, in which the breast where the cancer was detected is removed.
"My lesions were only detected in my left breast. I had an MRI follow-up after the mammogram and ultrasound and that even showed that there was more foci, which are basically floating cancer cells," she said.
Monahan said that after she received the news, she paused to research and speak to other women with similar experiences.
"This was so important and critical because what I decided at that moment was that I wanted to feel empowered. I wanted to feel beautiful and better than ever after this," she said. "I did not want to feel just fine or OK or settle. So for me, I decided to have a double mastectomy. I decided to have both off."
Monahan underwent the double mastectomy. Ultimately, she said, doctors found cancer in both breasts.
"'Your right breast did not show up in any diagnostic testing -- [it was] very, very tiny -- but it was invasive carcinoma, both ductal and lobular, and thank God you took that breast off,'" Monahan said her doctors had told her.
This week, the wife and mother of two will receive her seventh round of chemotherapy, she said.
"I can report good results and tolerance to chemo thus far," she told ABC News. "[My] prognosis is excellent, [with a] 90+% cure rate."
Dr. Jen Ashton, ABC News' chief medical correspondent, echoed the importance of self-examinations.
"My motto is, if it is attached to your body, you should know what that feels like," she said. "Then, it’s up to us in the medical profession to say, 'That's something to worry about. That's not something to worry about.' Feel it. If it's a part of you, get to know it."
Ashton said there are many detection methods but no consensus on what the "best" option is.
"Whether it's MRI, ultrasound, mammogram, self-breast exam, clinician breast exam, we need to individualize this for each woman," Ashton said. "There is no one-size-fits-all screening test for every woman."
"When you hear those recommendations, they are for the average-risk woman, and unfortunately, most women, like Gretta, are average risk until the day they hear those words," she added.
She also pointed out that "men get breast cancer as well and they don't get screened because it's so much more uncommon in men."