New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he will take time off to help his girlfriend, the Food Network star Sandra Lee, as she battles breast cancer.
Lee, 48, was diagnosed weeks ago, the governor said Tuesday in a news release. Since then, a flurry of tests have shown that the disease was detected in its early stages, the result of diligent check-ups, Cuomo said. She will undergo a double mastectomy this week, Lee said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“A situation like this quickly puts life in the proper perspective and reminds one of what’s truly important,” Cuomo said. “To that end, I expect to take some personal time because I want to be with Sandy to support her in any way I can.”
Cuomo, 57, lives with Lee in her Westchester County home. The two met in 2005 at a cocktail party in the Hamptons on Long Island, Cuomo wrote in his biography. She has helped him raise his three daughters, who split time with the governor and their mother, Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. Cuomo and Kennedy separated in 2003.
Cuomo said Lee will be speaking out about her illness “in order to remind women of the potentially lifesaving power of early detection.”
Lee said she has no family history of breast cancer, and had no lumps or any other possible sign of the disease. It was caught by a routine mammogram.
“Without early detection on my side, I could be telling a very different story, or not be here at all,” Lee said.