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CNN anchor Sara Sidner reveals she has Stage 3 breast cancer

Sidner is sharing the story of her diagnosis and how it has changed her perspective on life. She reminds women to get mammograms and do self-checks.
CNN anchor Sara Sidner during a news broadcast.
Posted at 2:10 PM, Jan 08, 2024

CNN senior national correspondent and anchor Sara Sidner has shared countless stories of people finding strength and resilience in times of adversity.

On Monday morning, she shared her own.

"Take a second to recall the names of eight women who you love and know in your life — just eight. Count them on your fingers," Sidner began, while anchoring CNN News Central. "Statistically, one of them will get or have breast cancer. I am that 1 in 8 in my friend group."

"I have never been sick a day of my life. I don't smoke. I rarely drink," she said. "Breast cancer does not run in my family, and yet here I am with Stage 3 breast cancer. It is hard to say out loud."

Sidner is in her second month of chemotherapy treatments and will undergo radiation and a double mastectomy.

Sidner said "Stage 3 is not a death sentence anymore for the vast majority of women," but said she was shocked to learn during her research that Black women are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer than their White counterparts.

Using herself as an example, she called on women to get their mammograms every year, and to do self-checks.

Sidner, 51, said her diagnosis has given her a newfound appreciation for life.

In a move she could not have predicted, she said, "I have thanked cancer for choosing me."

"I'm learning that no matter what hell we go through in life, that I am still madly in love with this life, and just being alive feels really different for me now," she said. 

"I am happier because I don't stress about foolish little things that used to annoy me, and now every single day that I breathe another breath, I can celebrate that I am still here with you, I am here with my co-anchors, my colleagues, my family, and I can love, and cry, and laugh, and hope — and that my dear friends — is enough," she said on air.

When Sidner had traveled to Israel in October to cover the nation's unfolding war with Hamas, she learned her recent mammogram results may be cause for concern, according to People Magazine. She was told she would need a biopsy upon her return to the U.S., and spent three weeks with this worry in the back of her mind. The experience in a war zone prepared her, in some way, for what she would face back home.

"Seeing the kind of suffering going on where I was and seeing people still live through the worst thing that has ever happened to them with grace and kindness, I was blown away by their resilience," Sidner told People. "In some weird way, it helped me with my own perspective on what I am going to be facing."

She learned within days of her arrival in New York that she had Stage 3 breast cancer. She didn't tell her mother, husband, sister or friends right away, because she said she needed time to process. 

Sidner is still adjusting to sharing her diagnosis publicly, and has not yet missed a day of work. But she knew it was only a matter of time before changes were noticeable.

"The bald truth is my hair's coming out," she told People, noting that as a woman in television, a slight change in hairstyle prompts commentary online. "If I'm having a bad hair day, I know about it. If I'm having a good hair day, I also know about that."

About 240,000 women and 2,100 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 42,000 women and 500 men die from the disease each year.

While deaths from breast cancer have declined over time, it is the second-leading cause of cancer death among women overall. Black women have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than any other race.

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