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CNN Today

Breast Cancer: CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty's Personal Story

Aired May 25, 2000 - 1:31 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: It's estimated every three minutes in the U.S. another woman learns she has breast cancer. The disease is the second-leading cause of death among American women. But there is hope, with early detection and a variety of treatment options.

Our Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty knows first-hand about the illness. She was recently diagnosed and is currently undergoing treatment.

Here's Jill's story in her own words.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Back in Moscow, back at work, it seems like nothing's changed. There's videotape to screen, and scripts to write...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGHERTY: ... Putin's presidential...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGHERTY: ... and reports on breaking news.

But for now, this is only half my life. Back in the U.S., I show up for my last chemotherapy treatment with Adriamycin, what my doctors say is the best drug to treat my breast cancer.

They call it the "red devil." "Sounds like something connected with communism," I joke.

When my doctor first gave me my diagnosis, I took notes.

(on camera): It was almost like interviewing him. It was almost like, OK, so, what's this cancer thing all about? You know, it was very cold-blooded. It became much less cold-blooded later.

(voice-over): One of the hardest things for me, and, as I found out later, for many people dealing with cancer, is being treated like a sick person when you don't necessarily feel sick.

Sandy Spender (ph), a member of my cancer support group, often dispensed with a hat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's funny because I feel so good, and I'll go to the store, and I don't have a hat on, and I know people probably are looking at me, and then I forget why.

DOUGHERTY: In Moscow's chilly weather, I try to keep my head covered, and my exercise schedule as normal as possible, just like back in the States. There are times when it's hard to forget I'm going through treatment. But even this side effect can have its funny moments.

At my computer at home, or in Moscow, work doesn't have to stop. For me, and for thousands of people in my shoes, neither does life.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: CNN's Jill Dougherty joins us now from Moscow with more about her treatment.

Hello, Jill, thanks for being with us.

DOUGHERTY: Hi, Natalie.

ALLEN: Well, some viewers, after seeing your story, have to be wondering: How do you do it? How do you maintain your demanding job, traveling back and forth from Moscow to the U.S. for treatment, how do you do it?

DOUGHERTY: Well, actually, I have been in the States for a lot of the treatment because there are times when you really cannot get away, you just have to keep doing the treatment. But when I have come back, you know, I come back, and if I am feeling OK, I had to get my doctor's permission to do it, basically I came back when I felt that I could do it, and no side effects, and it has been great. I think emotionally, it's very good to get back to what you do. It is very important.

ALLEN: And why go public about it, does that help you in some way?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think, in a way, maybe it does help me. But I also felt that this is a disease that, for a long time, you know, people didn't talk about it, people called it the big "C," et cetera. And I think it's important just to be open about something that effects so many people,

You know there are a lot of people out there who don't look as if they have cancer, but they do, or they have relatives that do, and there are literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people affected by this. So I felt that I didn't want to hide it. I don't want to make it a big deal. But it is something that I think that people can deal with it, even in going through the treatments because treatments, especially chemotherapy, have really changed in the last few years.

ALLEN: What parts of your character, would you say, have been very beneficial in a time like this facing cancer?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think, seeing other people go through it has been very helpful for me. After all, I think I felt like a lot of people, if you exercise, if you eat the right thing, if you do all of the good things, nothing bad is ever going to happen to you. And it was kind of a rude awakening that something like this could happen. But it does happen. It happens to a lot of people. And the best thing to do I think for me psychologically was to deal with that, and accept it emotionally, but then to go on, and that is what I -- a lot of people that are in my group, the cancer support group, have said. People are doing exactly that, just getting on with whatever they do in life.

ALLEN: And what's the next step for you? What is your prognosis?

DOUGHERTY: Prognosis is very good. I took a very aggressive posture on this. I went through chemotherapy and now I have some radiation to get through. And then, at the end of that, what they do in some cases, and they will do in mine, is there is a new drug, relatively new drug, that is in oral form, that you take for quite a while. And it's all an insurance policy. The whole idea is to get through the surgery and everything else, and try to take an insurance policy. And again, I took a very aggressive one to make sure I will still be around doing reports here in Moscow for quite a long time.

ALLEN: There's a lot of reporting to do in Moscow, and we thank you for joining us. Thanks sharing your story, Jill. Be well.

DOUGHERTY: You're welcome.

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