Two anchors last week joined the increasing number of broadcasters who have used their personal battles to shed light on the illness that afflicts them.
KSAT-TV San Antonio
anchor Leslie Mouton, who is undergoing breast-cancer treatment, appeared on her newscast-to present the last of her three-part series on cancer-without her wig. "I think that, if people see an anchor bald, it can help take some of the stigma out of baldness."
Mouton says that, for her and other cancer patients, "the prospect of losing hair was the toughest part. I don't think it's because of the business I'm in. I think it's because I'm a woman. Hair is so important to us; we spend so much time and money on it." She says that, after discussing treatment with her doctor, the realization of hair loss made her cry for the first time. But she later held a "hair-shaving" party for her family and friends, inviting them to keep locks of her hair "as a memory."
Although, except for the one report, she keeps a wig on while anchoring, she does not wear it off the air. "When it's cold, I put on a baseball cap." On the air, "I don't want people to tune in to see how Leslie's hair is doing."
anchor Theresa Marchetta shared her story of her bout with thyroid cancer in a two-part story. "It wasn't my idea," she says. "But talking about my thyroid cancer was a way to get into the topics of prevention and screening." She showed the surgical scar on her neck for the story but otherwise keeps it covered. "As a news anchor, we try not to have anything distract from what we're doing. My biggest fear was that someone would say this is about self-promotion. But any criticism I get will roll off my back. We've gotten a flood of responses, and all of it positive."
Both anchors say their choices to go public were not influenced by February sweeps, but, as veteran broadcasters, both understand the question. "A lot of people get breast cancer. I wanted people to see someone go through it, to see the way my mind and my heart were dealing with this," says Mouton.
And, she adds, to publicize the value of frequent checks.