Former TV anchor says friends helped her through cancer journey


Days after discovering she had breast cancer Carol LeBeau was face down on the floor during her bedtime prayers. She remembers screaming, "God, you must have me confused with somebody who can actually do this."

In that moment she forgot about the life-altering power of relying on her closest friends: Jesus; her husband, Tom Hamilton; and a tiny core group of close pals.

"He's sovereign. He doesn't make any mistakes. He's in control, and so he knew exactly what I needed," said LeBeau, who anchored San Diego's ABC affiliate 10 News before retiring in 2009.

"As a younger woman, I tended to be more of a loner, just busy, busy, busy. I didn't have time to nurture friendships, but somewhere along the line I realized I didn't want to be flying solo."

Personally and professionally LeBeau has spent several decades focused on health and fitness. An avid runner and biker, she also reported on KGTV's regular "Staying Healthy" segments for nearly 30 years. Post retirement, she works as an ambassador for Palomar Health.

"They actually call me their 'health champion,' which is pretty hilarious as I've gone through this last year," she said. "I've got to tell you, in my arrogance and pride, I basically thought this couldn't possibly happen to me. Breast cancer happens to other women, not me because, well, look at me, I'm not overweight, I eat healthfully, I exercise fanatically. For heaven's sake, I'm a health reporter."

She admits to being stunned with the diagnosis, which resulted in a double mastectomy.

"There's no real profile for cancer," she said. "Cancer is capricious and will do what it wants, how it wants. There are still as many questions and as answers about what causes these cancers. So it's been a very humbling experience to say the least."

Vital to her recovery, she said, were her four closest friends who made Ecclesiastes 4:9 come to life.

"I'm not sure I could have gotten through it without them. I had my loving husband, but there was only so much stuff I could dump on him. I've never been cared for like that. Even so, there were limitations in what she could receive from them.

"Your friends can't go in with you for the MRI and the surgery," LeBeau said. "The only friend you can bring in there with you is your forever friend Jesus, who is with me always and will never leave me nor forsake me."

A new view
The experience, she said, peels back everything.

"You get in the weeds with the Lord when you are really in need and really helpless and hopeless. That's kind of where he needs us. I had been a believer all my life, but I had a pretty easy, blessed life most of the way. So this forced me to my knees. It forced me to trust and to lean on God in new ways that I had never before."

Now cancer-free but more than cognizant that it can return at any time, LeBeau said her life has been reframed by the journey.

"It's made me more humble, more compassionate, more reliant on my Lord and Savior," she said. "You don't even think about it when you are in good health, but every breath I take is because He allows it and no other reason. It isn't anything else I've done."

LeBeau stresses that she is just one of millions of women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer.

"I am nothin' special, nobody different," she said. "I just happen to have a little bit of a high profile. I want women to come knowing that I don't really have any wisdom that's not of the Lord. I don't have tricks anymore.

"I used to give lectures on healthy living and what to do to avoid disease. You know, I don't give that talk anymore because I am really not an authority on anything. God is my authority. "He is never not with you, and I got to put that to the test in a big way."