CNN anchor Sara Sidner delivered an emotional on-air announcement Monday that she has been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
Sidner, who anchors CNN Newsroom from the network’s Los Angeles bureau, choked back tears as she shared details of her diagnosis and urged women to get mammograms and regularly check themselves for potential signs of breast cancer.
Sidner Delivers Emotional On-Air Announcement
Flanked by CNN anchors Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow in New York, a visibly emotional Sidner told viewers that she learned of her breast cancer diagnosis right before the New Year.
“I’m going to say something personal, if you’ll allow me,” Sidner began, taking a long pause as she tried to steady her voice. “I was diagnosed right before the holidays with breast cancer.”
Sidner revealed she has stage 3 breast cancer, saying it came as a shock since she is vigilant about getting regular mammograms. She vowed to fight the disease and said the diagnosis has given her a new outlook.
“I love my life now more than I ever have,” she said. “I hope that anyone who has anyone in their family discovers early that this is a problem for them.”
Sidner stressed the importance for women to conduct regular self-exams and schedule appointments for mammograms and other cancer screenings.
“Doctors say early diagnosis in breast cancer is really the key to survival,” she said.
Sidner Has Undergone First Surgeries, Faces Chemotherapy
In an interview with People magazine, Sidner opened up about the shock of her diagnosis and the journey she now faces as she undergoes treatment.
Just days before Christmas, Sidner went in for a mammogram and ultrasound after noticing dimpling on one of her breasts. Doctors performed a biopsy, and on December 23 Sidner received the call delivering the devastating news that she had breast cancer.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she told People. “I am a very vigilant person with mammograms and ultrasounds. So to be told I had breast cancer blew my mind.”
Already Sidner has undergone two surgeries related to the cancer and is slated to start chemotherapy in mid-February. While the prognosis with stage 3 breast cancer can vary widely, Sidner said her medical team is optimistic.
“They believe we caught it early enough. I’m going to fight and keep a positive attitude,” she told People.
Sidner will continue receiving chemotherapy through July. While she may undergo radiation or additional treatment after that, she said her doctors are confident that they “have a good plan in place.”
Throughout her treatment and recovery, Sidner plans to continue working at CNN as much as possible, viewing the job and her role telling impactful stories as motivation to get healthy.
Sidner Urges Awareness, Early Detection
While her cancer diagnosis came unexpectedly, Sidner is sharing her story to help raise awareness of the life-saving importance of early detection.
In her interview with CNN and in other public statements, Sidner has passionately urged women to conduct regular self-exams, to get annual mammograms beginning at age 40, and to push their doctors for testing if they notice anything abnormal.
“If I had put it off any longer, it would have been a very different diagnosis,” she told People.
Advocacy groups such as the American Cancer Society stress that early detection allows for more treatment options and improved outcomes. When detected early, the 5-year relative breast cancer survival rate is 99%, according to Breastcancer.org.
“We know that breast cancer caught early has a really great survival rate. Please get your testing. Please tell a friend,” Sidner said during her CNN announcement.
Through her transparency and willingness to share this vulnerable journey publicly, Sidner hopes to encourage other women to prioritize breast health and early detection.
TV Journalist Shared Her Breast Cancer Journey Publicly Before
While Sidner is the latest public figure to share a breast cancer diagnosis, she is not the first prominent TV journalist to publicly document battling the disease.
In October 2022, Good Morning America anchor Amy Robach revealed that she had a recurrence of breast cancer, nearly 20 years after she first was diagnosed and treated.
“This feels like my second diagnosis all over again,” Robach told viewers in a taped message. “I will go back into treatment and have surgery again.”
The GMA anchor first publicly shared her breast cancer journey in 2013 when she documented receiving a live mammogram on the morning show to encourage viewers to get screened.
In Sidner’s case, the CNN anchor specifically referenced ABC’s chief national affairs correspondent Barbara Walters as inspiration in her decision to be public about her breast cancer fight.
In 1976 Walters spoke openly about her breast cancer surgery and treatment at a time when public discussion of diseases like cancer carried heavy stigma.
“I felt that with my high visibility, perhaps the fact that I could discuss it openly and completely would give some hope and encouragement to other women,” Walters said in an interview following her surgery.
Much like Walters did 50 years ago, Sidner is now putting a face to breast cancer and delivering a message of hope and resiliency.
What to Know About Breast Cancer Diagnosis & Screening
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women behind only skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. The disease is expected to affect more than 300,000 women and cause some 43,000 deaths just in 2023.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, focused on raising public consciousness of the disease and promoting education, early detection, and treatment. Behind heart disease, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women in the U.S.
Several factors can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer including:
- Family history of breast cancer
- Inherited gene mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy
- Obesity, especially for women after menopause
- Starting menstruation early
- Having a first pregnancy after age 30
- Postmenopausal hormone use
- Drinking alcohol
Healthcare experts say that women with an average risk of breast cancer should receive regular screenings for early detection including:
- Monthly self breast exams beginning at age 20
- Clinical breast exams every 1 to 3 years for women in 20s and 30s
- Annual mammograms beginning at age 40
For women considered at high risk, more frequent screenings may be recommended at earlier ages.
If a lump is detected during a self-exam or screening, additional testing would typically include imaging tests and a biopsy to check the breast tissue for cancer. Treatment varies based on the details of each breast cancer diagnosis but commonly involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or targeted drugs.
Survival Rates by Stage
When detected and treated early, breast cancer patients have promising survival outcomes. Stage 0 and stage 1 breast cancers have a 5-year relative survival rate of almost 💯%. Survival rates decrease with more advanced stages of diagnosis:
|5-Year Relative Survival Rate
Continuing to spread awareness and promote early detection through screenings gives patients the greatest chance of positive health outcomes when facing a breast cancer diagnosis like Sidner’s. Through telling her story publicly, the CNN anchor hopes to empower more women with this potentially life-saving information.
What Comes Next for Sidner & Her Breast Cancer Journey
In her People interview, Sidner said she is trying to maintain a positive mindset as she stares down months of grueling chemotherapy followed by the possibility of additional treatment. But she called the flood of support “overwhelming in the absolute best way,” giving her strength to fight.
The CNN anchor said she is putting her trust in her care team and their prescribed treatment plan. She must avoid stress, stay active, drink fluids and eat well to keep her strength up to withstand the rounds of chemo.
If all goes according to plan, Sidner would complete chemotherapy in July followed potentially by radiation, hormone therapy or targeted drug treatment. Regardless, she will likely require additional testing every few months to monitor for any recurrence of cancer.
While statistics show stage 3 breast cancer presents more challenges than diagnoses caught earlier, advances in treatment and care continue to improve outcomes even against late-stage disease.
By courageously sharing her diagnosis publicly, Sidner has delivered a powerful reminder for women not to delay or skip potentially life-saving cancer screenings. And her journey can give hope to those fighting their own battles with cancer.
After tearfully delivering the news live on CNN’s air, Sidner vowed to fight while issuing a rallying call for women to prioritize breast health awareness and early detection.
“We’re strong, right?” Sidner said. “We can do this.”
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