On The Cover: Samantha Harris
The Journey of Samantha Harris
Entertainment host-to-the-stars Samantha Harris rarely turns down an opportunity to explore new and exotic locations. “I have wanderlust,” so says the intrepid reporter. “I yearn to travel.”
So where to next on her bucket list of must-visit-vacations? She’s set her sights—and favorite travel pillow—on the Maldives, a tropical paradise located thousands of miles away in the Indian Ocean.
“I’m dying to visit Soneva and The Four Seasons! There is a two-story hut with water slides from the second floor to the ocean. The water is so clear crystal blue,” she says, “but it’s an insane plane ride…there is no fast way to get there.”
Well, if there is anyone who can tackle a difficult journey, it’s Samantha Harris. In 2014, the married mother of two young girls found a lump in her breast just 11 days after an all-clear mammogram. As someone who covers breaking news for a living, this was a devastating headline.
For years, this Emmy-winning TV personality was the picture of perfect health as a host for E! Entertainment, extra, Entertainment Tonight and ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. She’s struck many a cover pose for fitness magazines, and when we found ourselves covering the same celebrity news stories, I admired her for being one of the healthiest people I knew.
“I was the exception to scientific evidence,” she admits.
When I caught up with her for our Travel Issue cover shoot in the penthouse of West Hollywood’s Kimpton La Peer Hotel, you would never have known that Harris had been through such a life-threatening ordeal. But not only is she surviving, she is thriving.
After the initial shock, Harris quickly turned a big negative into a positive. She went public with her personal pain and became an advocate for other women with cancer.
“It became a passion,” says Harris. “There’s no way that I could have sidestepped it because it was something meant to be.” She spent nearly 2 years researching and writing what she calls a labor of love: her first book, Your Healthiest Healthy: 8 Easy Ways to Take Control, Help Prevent and Fight Cancer, and Live a Longer, Cleaner, Happier Life.
Harris is currently on a U.S. book tour, and is savoring the chance to meet and visit new people and cities. It’s a journey the author-turned-advocate was proud to take. “It makes my heart so full, knowing how lost I felt in my diagnosis, that I can help in some small way to alleviate that for other people.”
DVM: How did a cancer diagnosis change your life?
SH: I was blindsided by cancer. I was just sidelined. But what it did, is it ignited in me something so powerful that it compelled me to find out why I had cancer. When diagnosed with any disease, there is a search for answers [for the] why: you want to make sense of it. It helped me to write this book. It was a cathartic experience that gave me purpose for why I had been diagnosed. I needed to make sense of my own diagnosis.
DVM: You are a public person, so why go public with your diagnosis?
SAMANTHA: Really, what tipped the scale for me to make that choice to go public, was if there was one other woman walking around with a lump in her breast, and [she] was told by doctors it was nothing and [it] then [had] gone undetected for God knows how long. [If} I can help that person by sharing my story, that’s why I wanted to go public. And when I did, I had so many unbelievable people who were so open and candid reach out to me.
DVM: So many people are not shying away from revealing a cancer diagnosis. Why?
SAMANTHA: There was a stigma that once surrounded cancer. It was a word whispered in the shadows. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore. In order to survive—and more importantly, to thrive—we have to build resiliency, and part of that is to have a community of support.
DVM: It’s been over 2 months since the release of your book. Have you reflected on its impact?
SAMANTHA: I’ve gotten a lot of feedback, but the most impactful message I got was from a woman, a nurse for 30 years, who was recently diagnosed. She told me she thought she had been leading a healthy lifestyle…a very similar story to mine. Her message was how helpful my book has been. There is so much conflicting information out there…and my book, that I held so close to my heart while working on it for 2 years, is out in the world and making a difference for some people…that is the reason I wrote it. If I help a few people, that’s good enough for me.
DVM: What is your book about?
SAMANTHA: Your Healthiest Healthy is a guide that is about small steps: small, manageable steps. So as you read it, don’t try to do everything. Don’t try to change overnight. For lasting changes, we need to do it in slow steps.
DVM: What is the most important message from your book?
SAMANTHA: We have to be our own best health advocate. But, in order to do that, we also have to know our bodies…what I call your “Body IQ”: knowing your body and having the tools. And I try to help give you those tools to understand your body, as best as you can to notice—God forbid—any changes as they come throughout your life.
DVM: Can you share some tricks for staying healthy on the road?
SAMANTHA: One of the biggest challenges [to] maintaining a healthy lifestyle while traveling is food. I start my day with a smoothie concoction of seeds, greens, organic fruit…but on the road, I can’t always get that, especially in smaller cities and in airports. One trick I’ve learned, if you don’t want to wait in long lines at the airport for food, [is to] seek out the less obvious spots with healthy options and you may not have any line! I get green juices sometimes and can usually find veggies and hummus, and salads.
Another challenge is how to work out.That might mean using the hotel gym, or if [there’s] no gym, try the hotel stairwells. Climbing slow paced up a few flights is a fantastic workout; that, and taking the stairs instead of an elevator. Try to get your heart rate up three times, 10 minutes a day, while on the road.
DVM: How do you look at your life going forward?
SAMANTHA: I’m 45 now. Having gone through cancer, it has given me a unique perspective. I don’t care as much about the small stuff. In my book, I write about toxic people. I found that the people who aren’t showing you kindness aren’t worth your time.That detracts from your life and overall well being. Some parents in some schools can get real catty—[it’s] like high school all over again. That’s not the game I want to play. I don’t have time for that. I have time for my family, my work and my passions.
DVM: What words do you live by?
SAMANTHA: I’m happy. I’m healthy. I’m fit and strong!
DVM: Are you planning a follow-up to Your Healthiest Healthy?
SAMANTHA: It is something I’m looking forward to. Interest is there from the public. But I want to give this one time to breathe…and then we’ll see where it takes us in expanding the brand.
DVM: For now, where does your “wanderlust” take you?
SAMANTHA: Side trips. I’d like to do more [of those] with my hubby and kids. We went to Catalina Island recently; we went zip lining, and got to cross the ocean. It’s nice as a family to try new things and have new experiences together.
DVM: And not have to go across the world….
SAMANTHA: Well, I still want to go to the Maldives!
–By Stacey Gualandi
Hair: Sasha Glasser
Makeup: Lisa Zimmitti