ESPN’s Hannah Storm, 61, Reveals Breast Cancer Diagnosis: 'I Had No Signs' (Exclusive)

“I have no family history. I had no pain. I had no lumps. I literally had nothing that would've indicated that I had breast cancer,” the sportscaster tells PEOPLE

<p>Joshua Gateley / ESPN Images</p> Hannah Storm at the 2023 ESPYS

Joshua Gateley / ESPN Images

Hannah Storm at the 2023 ESPYS

Hannah Storm went to her doctor’s office for a routine mammogram screening in November 2023.

The 61-year-old sportscaster was told that she had “dense breasts” and would need an ultrasound in addition to her mammogram. Dense breasts have more tissue and less fat, which makes reading mammograms more difficult, as tissue and possible tumors both appear white in results, according to the American Cancer Society.

Storm had had follow-up ultrasounds in the past so she wasn’t particularly concerned, booking her appointment “without a rush” for Jan. 3. However, after going in for the ultrasound, she received a call almost immediately.

“They said, ‘We saw something and we'd like to biopsy it. It's probably nothing. Not a big deal,’” she tells PEOPLE. “I kind of wish they hadn't said it's not a big deal.”

The biopsy was scheduled immediately and a week later, Storm was driving home from work — having finished a long and tiring shift on on Jan. 11 when Bill Belichick announced his resignation from the Patriots — when she received a call from an unknown number.

It was the radiologist. “I knew something was up,” Storm says.

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<p>Lorenzo Bevilaqua via Getty Images</p> Hannah Storm

Lorenzo Bevilaqua via Getty Images

Hannah Storm

The sports journalist was diagnosed with a non-invasive, stage zero breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ, (DCIS), where the cells that line the milk ducts of the breast have become cancer, but have not spread into surrounding breast tissue. About one in five new breast cancers will be DCIS, the American Cancer Society states.

“I just heard ‘breast cancer’ and I was shocked,” Storm recalls. “I was so stunned. I've had yearly mammograms and there was never anything, I have no family history. I had no pain. I had no lumps. I literally had nothing that would've indicated that I had breast cancer.”

Despite catching it early, Storm didn’t feel any relief until she reconnected with Dr. Elisa Port — Chief Surgeon and Director of Dubin Breast Cancer Center at NY's Mount Sinai Hospital.

“Dr. Port called me immediately and her first words were, ‘You're going to die of something. You are not going to die of this,’” Storm says. “She not only did my surgery, but guided me through the entire process.”

Following an MRI, Port recommended Storm undergo a lumpectomy after finding two areas with cancerous cells. She successfully performed the surgery on Feb. 1 and Storm then had a lengthy wait for her official results.

Related: Elizabeth Hurley on Her Commitment to Breast Cancer Awareness: 'It's About the People I've Met' (Exclusive)

<p>Courtesy Hannah Storm</p> Hannah Storm with her family

Courtesy Hannah Storm

Hannah Storm with her family

During this time, she says she was “grateful” to be able to continue working at ESPN’s SportsCenter, only taking a week off for the procedure and recovery. She admits working was the perfect distraction from worrying, especially as she kept her diagnosis hidden from most.

“I felt blessed to be working, honestly. And I had the blessing of knowing that this was not fatal,” she adds.

A week after surgery, Storm was at work when she received a call from Port with good news.

“She's like, ‘Oh my gosh, it's clear. All the tissue around the cancerous tissue is all clear, we got everything. I knew it was great, but this is just the best possible news. I'm so excited, I'm so happy,’” Storm recalls, calling herself “extremely lucky.”

“I think because Dr. Port was so clear from the very beginning what we were dealing with, that it really enabled me to be completely hopeful and optimistic,” she boasts.

Storm learned she won’t need radiology and she is now just taking Tamoxifen, an estrogen modulator taken in pill form that helps prevent the development of hormone receptor-positive breast cancers, for the next three years.

Related: Stars Who Faced Breast Cancer and Shared Their Stories

<p>Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images</p> Hannah Storm at the 68th Annual Public Service Award Dinner

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Hannah Storm at the 68th Annual Public Service Award Dinner

Reflecting on her health journey, Storm says she’s “feeling good” and taking better care of herself than ever before. Although, she recognizes that she’s forever changed since her diagnosis.

“Every day when I wake up and I look in the mirror, my left breast doesn't look exactly like my right one. There's the scar there,” she says. “And literally when I look in the mirror, I have this profound sense of gratitude. It's like a daily reminder of just how fortunate I am.”

Storm tells PEOPLE that’s why publicly sharing her breast cancer experience was a no-brainer, understanding that her situation could’ve been worse.

“I had no signs. If I hadn't had a mammogram, I would not have known this was there and it could have been much more dangerous, much more serious, and potentially deadly,” she stresses.

The sports anchor urges women to keep up with their routine screenings, and urges men to encourage the women in their life to stay on top of their health as well.

“This is just to say how important it is to commit to your own health and get your lifesaving screening,” she continues. “Breast cancer survival rates just keep climbing and early detection is a huge part of that so give yourself the best chance possible.”

“The more people who talk about breast cancer, the better. So I will beat that drum forever,” Storm says.

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