Robin Roberts to speak at fundraiser for victims of cancer

"Good Morning America" co-host Robin

Roberts agreed in June to speak at a fund raiser for an

organization which provides wigs to women battling cancer.

"I had no idea at the time that I would a short time later be

diagnosed with breast cancer myself," Roberts told The Associated

Press in a phone interview. "I am a firm believer that everything

happens for a reason."

Roberts, who grew up in Pass Christian, Miss., will be returning

to the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Wednesday, the two-year

anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. She is scheduled to speak at an

event for The Pink Heart Funds, a nonprofit organization that

provides wigs and breast prostheses to women suffering from breast

cancer who have little or no funds.

"I kind of looked at the heavens and said 'did you know

something up there that I didn't know that led me to say 'yes' to

this?"' she said.

Roberts, who announced to GMA viewers on July 31 that she had

been diagnosed with the disease, said she will "speak from the

heart." She did say she would discuss how she first found the

cancer during a self breast exam. An ultra sound, not a mammogram,

later found the tumor, she added. The former college basketball

star had no family history of breast cancer and said she ate right.

"It happens. I am hoping to just make people more aware," she


Roberts, 46, underwent surgery on Aug. 3 and returned to the

"Good Morning America" just 10 days later.

"My mother was fussing at me for coming back in 10 days, but I

wanted to get back as quickly as possible," Roberts said.

Roberts said her prognosis is "quite good." She is currently

getting opinions from several doctors and anticipates her

additional treatment, which may mean chemotherapy, will begin in

the next 3 to 4 weeks. Roberts would discuss specifics her further

treatment, saying she wants to wait until things are certain.

Plans for the Aug. 29 fund raiser Roberts is speaking at began

in June, after a Gulf Coast philanthropist who wishes to remain

anonymous contacted the group about having a fund raiser for the


"We wanted that date because this is a feel good story to rise

up out of Katrina that has nothing to do with the storm," said

Michele Hirata, president of The Pink Heart Funds.

JoAn Niceley founded The Pink Heart Funds after seeing cancer

patients who lost everything including their wigs during the storm.

A hairdresser and wig specialist, Niceley started using her own

money to buy them wigs.

"Losing your hair is the most devastating part," said Niceley,

a breast cancer survivor who has been cancer free for five years.

Soon, Niceley added a little pink heart box to her hairstyling

station and invited people to donate money for the wigs for those

unable to buy them.

"They had to spend money on a new home and furniture and really

not on themselves because they needed a roof over their heads,"

Hirata said.

The organization's fund raising efforts soon grew with Niceley's

cookbook "Appetite For Living - Pink Ribbon Recipes." The book

sold 2,800 copies in its first four months, Niceley said.

In May the group's first big fundraiser, a festival featuring

music and barbecue, netted $6,000.

The organization has also started the Pony Tail Club, which

collects hair at least 6 inches long from volunteers to make into

wigs for children without insurance who are going through any type

of hair loss illness, including cancer.

Hirata, who lost her mother to breast cancer, has created

special Chemo Caps for patients suffering the effects of cancer

treatment. The hats are made from T-shirts and are well ventilated

to prevent the head from sweating. They also provide a conservation

piece for people who are losing their hair from chemotherapy, she


"People don't come up to them and say 'I'm sorry you have

cancer,"' Hirata said. "Now they ask where they got that hat."

Roberts and her mother both own the Chemo Caps.

"I may get some use out of it now," Roberts said.


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