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Former ‘Good Morning America’ Co-Host Joan Lunden Survives Breast Cancer, wants to be a ‘Beacon of Hope’

Update Date: Oct 30, 2015 09:37 AM EDT

Joan Lunden, a former co-host of ABC's "Good Morning America," is ready to become an advocate for breast cancer awareness after beating the cancer earlier this year.

Lunden, 65, spoke about sharing her story with PEOPLE during the Breast Cancer Research Foundation luncheon that took place in New York on Thursday.

"I want to be a beacon of hope to women not to be afraid to do their own self-exam," she said. "Not to be afraid to go to a doctor if they think something isn't right, and not to be afraid to insist that you get that mammogram or that ultrasound if you need it. We are out own best health advocate."

Lunden first shared her breast cancer story when she revealed on June 2014 that she was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. Lunden went through nine-months of treatment, which included 16 rounds of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiant and a lumpectomy.

Although the aggressive treatment plan was hard to go through, Lunden said last month that she finally felt "whole again."

More recently, Lunden voiced her opinions about the recommendation changes made by the American Cancer Society. The society announced last week that women with normal risk of developing breast cancer should get screened annually once they turn 45. The previous recommendation was to start screening at age of 40.

"I think they should be screened earlier rather than later because I hear from women who are 40 and 41 and 42 everyday who are being diagnosed with breast cancer," Lunden said. "What would happen to them if we just didn't even look until 45? We would probably lose them. We can't lose anymore women."

Giuliana Rancic, of E! News's "Fashion Police," who is a breast cancer survivor, criticized the changes as well.

"American Cancer Society is now recommending women get their first mammogram at 45 instead of 40. Wow. If I had taken that advice, I wouldn't have found my breast cancer at 36 and instead have found it NINE years later. Who knows how much my cancer would have progressed by then???" the 41-year-old TV personality wrote on Instagram. "How can this be the recommendation when EARLY detection has an almost 100% five-year survival rate? Their argument is that less women will get false positives and be spared unnecessary testing. In my opinion, I would gladly take those tests over living with undetected breast cancer any day."

The society said they made the changes after determining that detecting cancer earlier did not outweigh the cons of receiving false positives. The society also stressed that women should always discuss their risk with their doctors to determine if earlier screenings would be beneficial.

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