Sandra Lee opens up about her breast cancer journey

The celebrity chef filmed her battle and recovery in an inspiring new documentary "Rx: Early Detection," and talks about what she wants other women to know live on "GMA."
9:15 | 10/04/18

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Transcript for Sandra Lee opens up about her breast cancer journey
You know, October is breast cancer awareness month and we have a real war yore. Joining us, Sandra Lee was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. Nearly one in eight American women diagnosed with it at some point in their lives. In a new HBO documentary she is taking her private struggles public to help others. We'll speak to Sandra in just a moment but first take a look at her story. This is going to be my red pepper ketchup. Reporter: She's the superstar chef who can help you get dinner on the table in no time but three years ago Sandra Lee felt her time was running out when she got a life-shattering diagnosis. I was just -- I didn't even cry, I was stunned. You know, and that's just how fast life turns. It turns on a dime. Reporter: Opening up on "Gma" in may of 2015 she was told by her doctor she had early stage breast cancer and within weeks underwent a lumpectomy and a double mastectomy. There's two different ways cancer beats you up, beats up your body and it beats you up emotionally and it -- I wasn't going to let it rob me from one day of happiness. Reporter: Sandra took control of her cancer by filming her struggles. What scares me is that this stuff just goes through your body and what if it's somewhere that we don't know where it is and it develops. Reporter: Now put together in a new and raw documentary for HBO called "Rx: Early detection with Sanders." They follow it with her sister Kimber Lee. When people see me every day, I'm always happy and then they smile at me. It makes me feel sad. Reporter: Also by her side New York governor Andrew Cuomo, her longtime partner. I'm in charge of moral support. Reporter: She hopes it can serve as an inspiration for others struggling with the devastating disease. And our dear friend Sandra Lee is here with us right now. Let me tell you, you know I'm with a friend when I can do this. I don't need the notes or anything like that to talk to you. We've been together too long. Yes. This has been a journey. Bless your heart for being so open and sharing so much. Why did you decide to let cameras in and to show people? Well, first and foremost we all know you are like the inspiration. Thank you. Thank you, yes. Bless your heart. I'm not so sure I would have been as comfortable had I not watched your journey and what I realized from your journey was that when you show people what it really looks like, they can learn from your experience and that's what I wanted to do. It wasn't available to me. What I show in this documentary was not available to me. When someone calls and says you have breast cancer or anything you get a bump and owe and go online and look. There was nothing that showed me once you say breast cancer and then you say either I'm through treatment, I'm dong, I'm in remission, there's nothing in between but what does that look like if you're making that intense decision about your life, someone needs to show you what it is and so I couldn't find it for myself so I created it for everybody else. This is a tool for people who have gone through it who have it or who will have it and it's a tool for their family to know how to take care of and deal with and understand. I love how you say about it's not just for the person going through it that it's also for the family so they can have a better understanding of the path that we're walking. Yes, exactly. It's not an easy path for anyone, for yourself, for your caregiver, whoever it is, but also one of the things that's super important is not only knowing what the journey is but you have to understand the epidemic that's going on. The epidemic is with younger women in their 30s and 40s, 90% of women have absolutely no family history, I did not. I didn't either. Every doctor says it's our environment. They don't know if it's our foodie. If it's our hair spray or the combination of the both and cancer, all it is is a bad cell going rogue. And you have to be as aggressive with cancer as cancer is going to be with you at every stage. Doesn't matter what stage. I love how this is educational. This is not just, you know, looking at your journey and what you went through but also making your mess your message and being able to get the word out and to let people know these types of facts. You worked through it. What was the most challenging part of the journey? So, everybody knows that -- you're going to be surprised by this answer. Everybody knows that I'm pretty open about my life and what I do and who I am and -- like I'm good. What was really uncomfortable is coming and being with you, going and being with, you know other talk shows and other morning shows and feeling disingenuous when I was launching that product line and trying to compartmentalize the mornings and go to the doctor's office in the afternoon. That was hard for me because I'm really comfortable just being who I am. You know, we're all flawed and when you look at this documentary, there's no hair, there's no makeup just like you. You know, you were in a state where you were bald and you just like pushed through it. But the most important thing is this, this is the most important thing. Forget about my journey, forget about your journey. It's about other people going through it. We have a journey. There are laws that need to be changed in this country, in new York, my partner Andrew Cuomo, the governor, changed the laws and here's what he did. He created a no excuses law and that law does two major things, it does a lot of things but here are the two things. A lot of people have to choose to pay $800, $900 for the co-pay or deductible on their insurance. That $800 will heat your home for three months in December, January and February when you have two kids and you're a working woman and feed your kids for two months. You going to spend that on a screening which you may or may not have something or are you going to feed and take care of your kids, all right, so in this state, there's no co-pay, no deductible. The insurance companies are required to pay it for you. It's zero from first screening all the way on. Yes. And, two, the second big thing we both know this, time and money. Time. For an hour at lunch -- I'm preaching. I'm doing this. I'm laying this down to all the other governors in the united States of America. You need to adopt this bill. Number two, time. 9 to 5, we're working. At lunch there is no time to get a mammogram. It takes longer than an hour. We leave a majority of our clinics and hospitals open in the evening and weekends to accommodate your schedules. No money, zero in New York and we do it on your time, so no dime and it's your time. So you are good here. Every governor needs to be doing this. I know. Now you preach. I know. Andrew, beautiful man, was there by your side and so that beautiful woman right there, your sister. My perfect sister. Look at her. What was it like for you to see and be a part of your sister's journey. You know, it's difficult to watch anyone go through this process. It was difficult watching you go through the process, even more difficult watching someone I'm -- that you care about, so she's my sister. We're very close. I'm glad I was there with her. I can't imagine not being there but now that we're on the other side I realize how important it is to have a person. So whether it's your sister, your best friend or co-worker, everyone needs to have someone and I'm just super proud of her that now that we're on the other side that she's taking her experience and doing something with it and making a difference. Yep. All right. So true. I've often said this, everybody has something. Everybody in this beautiful studio has something and the tragedy is not with a loss of our health or our marriage or whatever the loss, we're all going to suffer loss, that's not the tragedy. It's if we don't take time to understand why this was placed in our path. What we can learn and what we can share with others to make their journey less painful than it was for us and that's what it's all about. You know, yes, it is. Often I walk past pictures of people in the 1910s or 1800s and they look just like us and they had their moment on this beautiful planet. This is our moment on this beautiful planet. Our job is to help one another to share with one another. To take care of one another whether we know one another or not, we are all sister, we are all brother, we are all in this together and none of us are getting out of here alive. So help each other. Be honest, be truthful. Get into the details. I have to tell you, thank you. I love you. Thank you, I love you so much and how giving you have been with this and the documentary "Rx: Early detection" debuts on October 8th. As we go to break can the other

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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