When Joan Lunden
was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer
in June, the former Good Morning America
host knew she had two choices.
"I could decide to do nothing, but that's certainly not my personality," Lunden, 64, tells PEOPLE in its latest issue, on newsstands Friday. "I was handed an opportunity to learn everything that I can about this and try to help others."
Her first move? Going public with her battle
. She announced the devastating news of her diagnosis to fellow cancer survivor Robin Roberts
on the ABC morning show, where Lunden left with some valuable advice.
"Robin told me waiting for your hair to fall out is excruciating," she says. "So I didn't want to wait."
Just one week after finishing her first chemo treatment, the mother of seven
decided it was time to say goodbye to her trademark blonde locks. "You know it's going to happen one of these days and you are wondering how and when, so I just owned it," Lunden explains.
But her decision to be photographed for PEOPLE's cover without the wig she currently wears took a bit more thought.
"I'm almost reluctant to say it because it sounds superficial," says Lunden. "But when you lose your hair, it just affects the way that you look at yourself in the mirror. You feel less feminine, pretty or desirable, and it's not an easy thing to go through."