Food Network host Sandra Lee opened up to ET on the Emmy Awards red carpet about the death of Jackie Collins. The celebrated author died Saturday after a private battle with breast cancer. She was 77 years old.
"I was so sad and devastated," Lee, who underwent a double mastectomy in May to treat her own breast cancer, told ET of Collins’ death. "It is a true testament to the non-negotiation with cancer, regardless of the stage. She lived her life so beautifully and we should all honor her."
Lee was hospitalized in August for complications from her surgery, but was "up and energized" and "determined to go home” soon after her procedure, according to a Facebook post by her team. The Food Network star has been very public with her cancer battle since her diagnosis, sharing updates on social media, but told ET she understood Collins’ decision to fight her six year battle in private.
"She was a private person and I admire her so much," Lee said. "She's so accomplished, I just hope that the last five years were the best of her whole life."
Lee is also using her own battle as a platform to urge other women to get screened for breast cancer earlier in life, despite some organizations recommending that women should only start getting regular mammograms once they turn 50.
"I'm 48 years old. I've got a couple years till 50 ... If I would have waited, I probably wouldn't even be sitting here," she said on Good Morning America in May. "They say that there's an incredible amount of women in their 20s and 30s being diagnosed, and they're telling them to wait until they're 50? I don't even know who in good conscience could do that."