Her childhood was destroyed by sexual and emotional abuse. Just out of college she was raped, and her attacker was never caught. After only three years of marriage her husband committed suicide. But despite the immense tragedy, Underwood chooses to live her life as a survivor.
"I've been through a lot," the comedian reveals in the latest issue of PEOPLE. "But it's not all woe is me. This is a journey."
That journey, which ultimately led the one-time struggling comedian to her dream job hosting CBS's The Talk, is far from over.
"Everything I went through made me stronger," she says. "You may never forget it, but in remembering it you should make it better for the next person."
For much more from Underwood's journey, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
"I was surprised at first to hear about the past trauma in her life but now I think I understand why it makes her who she is today," says Julie Chen who stars alongside Underwood on The Talk.
"Sheryl is someone who chooses to live life as a survivor instead of a victim. She is stronger today because she refused to let what happened to her keep her down. She is truly someone to be admired and I do admire her with the deepest respect and love."
Despite everything she has gone through and the tragedies she's faced, Underwood is content with where she is now.
"I wouldn't change anything in my life, because I have learned so much about myself," she says.
The Talk airs weekdays (2 p.m. ET) on CBS.