07/02/2014 at 04:45 PM EDT
Joan Lunden has always prided herself on staying on top of her health.
Every year, the former Good Morning America host, 63, would go in for a mammogram and a follow-up ultrasound – an extra precaution for women like her with dense breast tissue – and breathe a sigh of relief as she walked out the door.
"You come out of there like, 'Yes! One more year I'm okay,'" Lunden told GMA during a June 24 visit.
But this year, when her doctor returned with ultrasound results on June 9, Lunden felt as if something was different.
"I could just tell by her demeanor [that something was wrong]," she said.
"Then, I heard those words that every woman fears: 'You have breast cancer.'"