More Than Good Enough: The Rene Syler Story
Rene Syler is a cancer advocate and survivor, a best-selling author, a long-time broadcast journalist, a former morning TV network anchor, and, most of all, a good enough mother.
That last title might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but from Syler’s point of view, it certainly is.
Her first book, “Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting,” was published in 2007 (along with its companion website, www.goodenoughmother.com), with a goal of helping frustrated mothers understand that they’re doing a good job without having to be perfect.
“The book was my missive on modern motherhood,” she explains. “There is no perfection in parenting and none of us grew up with a perfect mom or parents. We’ve got to learn to stop short-changing ourselves. Women have a tendency to put everyone else in the family before them. And by not taking care of yourself, that’s how you get sick. Who’s going to take care of your family then?”
“You can have dishes in the sink. You’re allowed to take time for yourself. Don’t worry about cooking every night for your family. You’re doing OK!” she adds.
You may know Rene from CBS News’ “The Early Show,” which she anchored from 2002 – 2006, capping a news career begun in 1987 in Reno, Nevada and which took her to Birmingham, Alabama, and then on to Dallas (anchor at two different stations in the space of ten years), and finally to the CBS morning program in New York City.
“It was kind of crazy,” she says of being named one of the hosts. “I had never aspired to go to network. My husband and I had just finished building a house in Dallas four months prior, and we had two young kids, but off we went, and I was ‘The Early Show’ for four years.” On the day of her final broadcast, she made an important announcement on-air: she was about to undergo a double prophylactic mastectomy. While Rene did not have cancer, she was surrounded by it. Both her mother and father had breast cancer, marking her by today’s standards a cancer survivor, and she believed the mastectomy was necessary to safeguard her own health.
“Everyone was very supportive, and I knew I had to do it. I had a young family, and even though I was having a biopsy every year, I needed to do it for my peace of mind,” she says.
While she didn’t set out to, Rene became a trailblazer. The impact of her decision was far-ranging. “After I did my piece on the show, my doctor told me six new patients came in for mammograms. One of them had cancer. Another woman had a preventative mastectomy at Sloan-Kettering, and the doctors found cancerous cells in the removed breast tissue that had previously gone undetected.” In her quest to protect her own health, Rene had begun saving others’ lives.
Today, Rene is spokesperson for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the largest grass roots breast cancer organization in the world, and works to spread the word about breast cancer and early detection. “I never wanted to, or set out to be, an advocate,” she says. “But I’ve found it’s important to use the platform because that’s how things change. I got involved with Komen because of my parents, but TV gave me a pretty powerful medium to get across the message about cancer prevention and detection.” And, that’s an important part of cancer survivorship: preventing recurrences through prevention awareness and early detection.
Rene continues to make guest appearances on “The View,” “The Nate Berkus Show,” “The Doctors” and “CNN Headline News.” “Certain shows call me a lot to do segments, either on health or parenting,” she explains. “I just finished doing the Anderson Cooper’s “Anderson” for the third time. I was doing a piece on
stay-at-home and working mothers.”
She also remains busy with her website. “It’s not just for moms,” she laughs, “and in fact, 25% of its readers are men. We talk about relationships, equality, gay issues, racial issues, you name it. I update it two or three times a day so it’s always fresh and current, like an ongoing conversation. We have to remember we’re all in this together.”
Category: Survivors in the News
Tags: cancer advocate, cancer survivor, CancerForward Survivor in The News, double prophylactic mastectomy., Good Enough Mother, preventative mastectomy, Rene Syler, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, The Early Show, TV network anchor