"When I came to in recovery, my surgeon was standing over me with a look of sadness and told me that he had to take out all of my lymph nodes," Harris, who underwent surgery in late May after being diagnosed with breast cancer, tells PEOPLE.
While in the operating room, doctors discovered the cancer had spread beyond her breasts and were forced to do further testing.
"A few days later I got some good news. Thankfully, only one node was positive. Unfortunately, that usually means chemo," she says.
The former Dancing with the Stars co-host, 40, made the difficult decision to go ahead with the operation, months after the lump she found in her right breast led to her diagnosis. And although she says the potential treatment path is unsettling, Harris remains hopeful.
"I am scared by the prospect of chemo, but I know so many inspiring women who have gone through it and, as they told me, 'rocked it,' " she tells PEOPLE. "If I need it, I will take a deep breath and readjust my focus."
Harris adds, "Stay positive. When life deals you lemons, you gotta make lemonade!"
Reporting by JENNIFER GARCIA