Samantha Harris was misdiagnosed months after her mammogram came out: ‘It was breast cancer’

Samantha Harris

Samantha Harris

Fraser Harrison/WireImage

Samantha Harris He is a proud advocate for the breast cancer community and for those who may need help guiding the recovery process.

As a breast cancer survivor, the Emmy Award-winning TV presenter, 49, has teamed up with Susan G. Komen and Yoga Works to lead Restorative fitness programmedirected towards people with the disease.

She spoke EXCLUSIVELY with PEOPLE about her 2014 breast cancer journey, and your healthy Best selling author She remembers the pain of being told for months her lump was “nothing,” and then finally being diagnosed with the disease at the age of 40.

“So I had a mammogram. It came back clear, and 11 days later I was changing after a workout and had a lump,” the mother-of-two tells PEOPLE about her first-ever breast cancer screening and how standing up for herself saved her life.

Related: Samantha Harris is ‘delighted’ at being cancer-free

Safe Children's Day 2017

Safe Children’s Day 2017

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Following her hunch, she thought, “You know, I’m going to go see an OB-GYN,” she says. “She told me it was nothing. A month later, I went to see my internist, just because it supposedly wasn’t cancer. So I saw an internist who said it was nothing.”

when ex Dancing with the stars The host finally went to see an oncologist, and they weren’t too worried about the tumor either. After all, most breast tumors already are benign or non-cancerous. Finally, after further testing, Harris received her diagnosis four months after her self-discovery.

“It was more palpable and you could literally see it kind of sticking out,” she describes. “It felt the size of, I don’t know, a quarter and a half? But I think the actual cancer itself was a lot smaller, but it was what it let me feel,” she shares of the lump’s mixed-up make-up, both benign and malignant.

After weighing her options with several doctors, which she highlights are very important when dealing with any potentially serious medical issue, Harris decided to have a double mastectomy.

Related: Samantha Harris: How do I plan to tell my daughters I have cancer

“I was diagnosed with stage one and not diagnosed with stage two until after my mastectomy when we found out it had gone to the lymph node,” she says of the devastating double whammy of the late bad news.

“During all of my meetings and appointments with my oncologist, everyone has said, ‘We caught it too soon. The possibility of it spreading to the lymph node is very small. “Right. And I remember the look on the surgeon’s face when I woke up from my mastectomy. They had to remove 11 lymph nodes.”

When Harris recuperated in the hospital for five days, having thoughts about her two daughters and trying to battle negative thoughts about her diagnosis, she finally asked a technician on day three if they’d had her lymph node results back yet.

“Thank God the technician was kind enough to say, Oh yeah, the results came back that day. You don’t have any other lymph nodes with cancer,” she recalls. “And the amount of relief I was able to get out of exhaling was massive.”

Samantha Harris

Samantha Harris

Samantha Harris / Instagram

Harris says she declined chemotherapy and radiation, which her health team agreed to, given her mastectomy, the type of cancer she had, and the fact that she came back negative on the extensive genetic testing she underwent.

“I’m very confident in my choices based on all the information, education, and input I’ve had from my doctors,” she explains.

“My oncologist told me, ‘You’re going to live a long life.'” You will not die from this breast cancer. “And I’m like, ‘What the heck? That’s three weeks. How could not one person out of the many doctor’s appointments I’ve been told this to? I had panic and anxiety and my kids are 3 and 6, my dad died at 50 of cancer,'” she says.

“And I’m thinking, I’m not going to see my kids grow up. I need that hope.”

Now she is free of cancer and celebrates 8 years.cancerIn May, Harris made it her mission to share her story and advocate for early detection. Her daughters, Jocelyn and Hilary, are now 12 and 15, and “breast health is really important for them to start to understand and to know their bodies, which is a big lesson we always talk about.” She also says of her husband, financial advisor Michael Hess, and how open they are with their girls.

Samantha Harris

Samantha Harris

YogaWorks

After nearly eight years, the wife and mother also managed to move out Tamoxifenhormone therapy for a certain type of cancer (hormone receptor-positive breast cancer), which she was initially supposed to be on for 10 years.

Harris stopped the treatment because it was causing her to develop benign growths on her ovaries, and her doctor told her she could stay off the medication.

So I came off the estrogen blockers, with permission I asked my oncologist [the larger polyp] He went away, thank God.” Game Show Network host He says of her health scare years later. “My oncologist is very knowledgeable about my healthy living choices and said I don’t have to go back.”

Harris opts to only get animal protein once a week, and to regularly have antioxidant-packed smoothies and greens. She says exercise, especially yoga, helps her manage stress and complements her health regimen, which she says she developed gradually.

Harris stresses the importance of “starting small,” she says, “Your health is all about small, manageable steps so you won’t feel overwhelmed. And so it’s sustainable because this is a way of life going forward. It’s not a quick fix,” she adds.

Samantha Harris

Samantha Harris

YogaWorks

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expands on it Yoga for therapy “I couldn’t be more proud and excited about this program that they just launched called YogaWorks Pink, and is the first-ever dedicated yoga and wellness program created and customized to meet the needs of the entire breast cancer community,” says Harris.

YogaWorks fitness program, which will provide the breast cancer community with direct access to it Three months of free yoga activities and resourceswhich launched on January 14, Pink members will also have full access to YogaWorks’ regular suite of over 1,300 on-demand classes and over 25 live classes each day.

Samantha Harris

Samantha Harris

YogaWorks

After the three-month free program, YogaWorks Pink Users can sign up for $29.99 per month, with 25 percent of the proceeds taken back Susan G KomenIt is a leading breast cancer organization.The program also welcomes caregivers and others with breast cancer.

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