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Gov. Cuomo's Longtime Partner Sandra Lee Has Breast Cancer

By Jeff Mays | May 12, 2015 10:55am
 Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sandra Lee attend the Food Bank For New York City
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sandra Lee attend the Food Bank For New York City "Can Do" Awards Dinner Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on April 21, 2015.
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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

NEW YORK CITY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo's longtime partner, television chef and author Sandra Lee, revealed Tuesday that she has breast cancer and will undergo a double mastectomy.

Lee, 48, revealed the news during an interview on "Good Morning America" with breast cancer survivor Robin Roberts. She said she received the unexpected diagnosis in March during a photo shoot at People magazine.

"I walked off the set, and 20 minutes later my doctor called and told me I had breast cancer," Lee said during the interview.

"I didn't even cry. I was stunned … You know, and that's just how fast life turns. It turns on a dime."

Lee said doctors were able to detect the cancer early after performing a lumpectomy. Lee is set to have a second surgery and also six to eight weeks of radiation. But doctors called the cancer "a ticking time bomb" and have suggested the double mastectomy.

"And so I said, 'OK. If I'm going to have a mastectomy, am I supposed to just get one done?' Both the radiologist and the doctor said, 'You're a ticking time bomb.' And they both said, 'You need — I would just get them both done,'" Lee said.

Cuomo, 57,  was "stunned" by the news but has been extremely supportive, Lee said.

"He's going to be in the operating room with me," Lee told Roberts.

In a statement, Cuomo said he was "devastated" by the news.

"A few weeks ago we received terrible news. Sandy shared with me that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was devastated. After the news what followed was a blizzard of doctors visits, tests and discussions of treatment options," Cuomo said.

"Sandy is young for her diagnosis, she has no family history, she is healthy and had no symptoms or signals that she was in danger," the governor continued. "She has been diligent about going for check-ups and thankfully this was detected in the early stages."

Cuomo said that Lee has handled the diagnosis with "determination, resolve and grace." The couple has dated since 2005 and Lee said she could see herself and Cuomo getting married one day.

"She never ceases to amaze me," Cuomo said. "While she has kept her illness private until now, Sandy has bravely decided to speak openly about her illness in order to remind women of the potentially lifesaving power of early detection."

The governor said he expected to take some personal time off to support Lee.

Lee said she wants to use the diagnosis to encourage women to get checked for breast cancer.

"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," said Lee. "Go pick your phone up, and call your doctor and get your rear end in there and get a mammogram right now."