Broadcast journalist Lara Logan has faced danger covering stories in war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq, and she was brutally attacked in February 2011 while reporting from Cairo’s Tahrir Square amid the Egyptian revolution.
But Logan describes her 2012 breast cancer diagnosis as “without a doubt psychologically the worst thing that I’ve ever had to deal with. And considering I was sexually assaulted by two- to three-hundred men for close to an hour, you think that would be the hardest thing you’d have to deal with, right?”
Logan gave a blunt, personal account of her struggle with cancer – she is in remission – during the Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s All Star Night gala Saturday at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
Logan, a 42-year-old South Africa native, is a “60 Minutes” correspondent and CBS News’ chief foreign affairs correspondent. Using only notes she had scribbled on the back of a piece of paper, Logan spoke about balancing the demands of her health, her family and her high-profile TV news career.
Logan received the Gilda Radner Courage Award, presented to someone who has fought a courageous public battle against cancer, has given hope to people with the disease, and has focused public attention on the fight against cancer. Logan said she at first felt unworthy of the honor.
“I wasn’t very courageous in my battle against breast cancer – it scared the living (expletive) out of me, I have to be honest,” Logan said. “You meet these amazing people who have this incredible spirit and the power of positive thought, and I truly had moments where I didn’t have any of that and I was just depressed.”
Logan recalled her sense of helplessness when her doctor called to tell her she had cancer.
“... I’ve been very fortunate in my life, but I’ve had at many times a difficult life, and so I’m used to that feeling of reaching the bottom and finding something to hold onto to pull yourself back up,” she said. “I did that over and over again in Tahrir Square that night. Every time they knocked me to the ground, I fought my way back up. And I couldn’t find anything to fight my way back up on that phone call.”
Logan quickly realized how little she really knew about cancer, but also came to learn how important that knowledge was to her own treatment. She toured Roswell prior to her speaking engagement on Saturday and praised its role and history in the fight against cancer.
Just last week, Logan was in a New York City hospital undergoing a series of tests.
When she wasn’t at the hospital, Logan was working long hours on a story about a controversial, heavily scrutinized subject: the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“People are saying to me, ‘You have to prioritize your health,’ and I’m like, I have to prioritize my health, but if I (mess) this up, I don’t have a career, you know?” she said to laughter and applause.
Cancer has touched others in her life. Her beloved nanny in South Africa, Florence, died of the disease. And she recalled the heartbreak of seeing impoverished mothers in South Africa bringing their children to chemotherapy.
But Logan said she sees hope in Roswell Park’s work, urging donors to “dig deep and continue to support this incredible institution that is doing really miraculous work on cancer.”
“There are people in many places in the world that don’t have access to anything like the care that you offer here,” she said. “But those people ultimately on the other side of the world will feel the benefit, eventually. It will reach all of us.”