ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Food Network television star Sandra Lee announced Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will soon undergo a double mastectomy.
The popular lifestyle personality and live-in girlfriend of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo divulged the news on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Cuomo said Tuesday he planned to take time off to support Lee after her surgery.
The 48-year-old Lee says her doctor called her late last month just after she finished a photo shoot for People magazine, telling her she had cancer. She had a cancerous lump removed and will have more extensive surgery later this week.
Lee's cancer was found after a routine mammogram. She said she decided to talk about her illness to encourage other women to get screened.
"If it saves one person, and makes one more person go get a mammogram, and if they're sitting down right now watching this, don't watch this TV," she said during the interview. "Go pick your phone up, and call your doctor and get your rear end in there and get a mammogram right now."
A government-appointed task force that gives screening advice does not back mammograms until age 50 and says beginning in the 40s is a personal choice. The American Cancer Society has long recommended starting screening at age 40.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said he believes early detection of the cancer "could very well have saved Sandy's life."
"It's not easy to talk about this operation and the recovery and have everyone know. But she thought she could do some good," Cuomo told reporters at an event on Long Island. "She wants to help people. She wants to make the world better, and that's where she always goes. I've been with her for 10 years and that's been a constant."
Lee is a cookbook author, magazine publisher and television chef. Lee and Cuomo have dated for several years and share a home in Westchester County.
Associated Press writer Frank Eltman contributed to this report from Westbury, New York.