Sandra Lee is a woman of noble strength.
Eighteen months ago, the activist, writer and star of the “Semi-Homemade” show on the Food Network was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through early discovery and intervention — including a double mastectomy — Lee is now cancer-free.
“It’s been quite a year,” she told Footwear News. “I have to say that I’m grateful to be on the other side of it. I don’t wish this upon anyone. It’s really important that a cure is found not just for breast cancer, but also for all forms of cancer.”
Lee will be honored at this year’s annual QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale” charity gala on Oct. 25, during which she will receive the Jodi Fisher Humanitarian Award. The honor recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions in the fight against breast cancer and also pays homage to Fisher, who died in 2009 following a long battle with leukemia.
Lee was apt to recognize Fisher’s memory and her contribution as the visionary behind FFANY Shoes on Sale and her role as the VP of PR at Nine West and Jones Apparel Group.
“Jodi passed away at 49 years old, and I got my diagnosis right before my 49th birthday,” Lee remembered. “If you read about Jodi’s story — who she was within the footwear industry, what an impact she had and how young she died — it’s unbelievably humbling that FFANY chose me.”
Lee is a committed supporter of several charities, including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Susan G. Komen, and also serves as the national spokesperson for Stand Up to Cancer. Additionally, over the past year, Lee has been recognized by the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program for sharing her message across her personal and professional platforms. She was also honored on Capitol Hill with the Excellence in Cancer Awareness Award and received the Spirit of Life Award from City of Hope.
Currently, Lee is editing a documentary about her journey with breast cancer. Filming took place during her first week of diagnosis and through to post surgery.
“At the time, when all of this was happening, I had just started a production company,” Lee said. “The woman who runs my company came to all of the appointments with me and taped everything. We even had cameras in the operating room.”
The working title of the documentary is “Stage Zero.” Lee hopes the film will aid and teach women with breast cancer what the process is all about. She recalled that during her own experience researching breast cancer findings, many questions popped up.
“By working on the documentary, though, it gave me a higher third focus, and I was able to be involved on a totally different level,” she said.
When asked what advice she could give to fellow breast cancer patients facing their first diagnosis, Lee simply said, “Just breathe.”