A Woman With Breast Cancer Was Leaving Hospital When She Got A Life-changing Call Live On TV

Joan Leary had been through a lot, to say the least. Not only did she find out she had breast cancer, but she had to have a mastectomy to remove the disease. On her way home from the hospital, though, things started to look up after she answered a phone call that aired on live TV.

Leary hails from Pennsylvania’s Garnet Valley, a small community in the state’s southeast corner. She lives there with John, her husband, and takes great pleasure in religiously watching Live with Kelly and Ryan every day.

In fact, Leary was so dedicated to the show that she said she regularly took notes on the program. But her studying would serve her well if she was ever part of the show’s “Call Me Live Travel Trivia” game. During the quiz, hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest dial up a fan, pose a piece of show trivia to them, and award them with a trip if they answer correctly.

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In 2017, however, a medical diagnosis drew Leary away from her daily talk-show ritual. She had breast cancer, and her doctors decided to take surgical measures in order to heal her. She would, in fact, need to undergo a mastectomy.

Mastectomies can prevent breast cancer in women predisposed to the disease. They can also be a treatment for those already diagnosed with it. During the procedure, doctors remove an area of affected tissue or, in some cases, the entire breast. Although it is an invasive option, it’s a very effective one – cancer comes back in only one to three percent of those who elect to have the procedure.

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Leary underwent her procedure in October of 2017. And, just after leaving the hospital, she received a phone call she had been waiting for for quite some time. “Hello?” she said as she answered the phone. “Well, good morning, is this Joan?” the voice on the other end of the line asked.

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As soon as Leary heard the caller speak, it seemed as though she knew who he was. “Oh my God. Yes, it is,” she replied. Then, the man confirmed his identity. “Joan, it’s Ryan Seacrest,” he said. Co-host Kelly Ripa chimed in, “This is happening.”

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Leary was finally the contestant on Live’s “Call Me Live Travel Trivia” segment. Then, to get to know her a little better, Seacrest asked her what she was up to – and she responded honestly. “Well, you’re not going to believe this, but I just got out of the hospital,” she said.

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Clearly concerned at this point, Ripa had to ask, “Are you okay?” It was then Leary told the presenters, as well as the show’s audience in the studio and across the country, about her situation. She said, “Well, it’s breast cancer month, and I had to have a mastectomy.”

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“Oh, my goodness, how are you doing?” Ripa replied. But Leary’s main concern was the trivia game ahead – and she admitted that she “missed [the] show” during her hospital stay. The hosts only cared about their viewer’s health, though.

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“More importantly, how are you feeling?” Ripa asked again. Leary replied, “I feel wonderful now that I’m speaking to you, but horrible that I won’t know the answer!” Before she got to that part of the game, though, the Live hosts had to spin a wheel to reveal what prize the show’s super-fan would win if she did somehow answer correctly.

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They landed on a seven-day trip to Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The luxury stay included meals and a private tour, and the entire trip was worth $7,500. All Leary had to do was get the right answer to a single question. Once asked, she had just 20 short seconds to respond and only got a single guess, Ripa reminded her.

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With that, Leary implored, “Please make it easy.” And it was clear that Seacrest had gotten the message when he asked the big question. “Joan, who are you speaking to on the phone right now?” he said. The audience cheered, and Leary laughed as she replied, “Kelly and Ryan.”

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The Live fan had gotten it right! As a result, she had won the getaway prize from her much-loved TV show. Ripa hoped that the trip would boost Leary through her breast cancer battle. “Listen, this is going to set you on your road to recovery, okay? We are all thinking about you, remember that,” the host said.

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“You’re going to make me cry,” Leary said – and Ripa felt the same. “You’re going to make us cry,” she retorted. Although that was the end of their phone call on that October day in 2017, the story of Leary and Live With Kelly and Ryan was far from over.

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Just two months later, Live viewers had the chance to vote on the show’s best moments of the year. When the countdown reached number one, Ripa and Seacrest revealed that it was Leary’s phone call that had secured the top spot. “I am so glad this is number one,” Ripa said.

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The pair then called Leary to check in after her big win. “I feel wonderful. I’m back at the gym. I’m cancer-free. You don’t know what you’ve done for me. I just can’t thank you enough,” Leary reported. She had no idea that the TV hosts had another surprise for her up their sleeves.

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Not only did they invite Leary to come to a taping of their show, but Ripa and Seacrest promised to spend time with her one-on-one. “We’ll take care of everything. We can go out to dinner. I can take you to the gym, whatever you want,” Ripa offered.

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It was April of 2018 by the time Leary took Seacrest and Ripa up on their offer. Not only did she watch their show live with her husband, John, but she got to spend the day with Ripa, working out and exploring New York City. “I feel fabulous because of you,” the cancer survivor said.

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Ripa said that she, her co-host and viewers had all felt the same way about Leary. “There was a moment where I felt, ‘Wow, I really feel connected to this woman. I wonder if it’s just me.’ [Ryan] said the same thing. The audience said the same thing. So once in a while, you’re not off. It is as amazing as you think.”

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