“I didn’t know that’s how strong I was.” René Syler
René Syler, journalist and former host of the CBS Early Show, is undoubtedly a courageous woman who has made some very difficult decisions in life. It is clear that many of her decisions have been shaped by her parents’ experiences and influences.
René was born in Illinois at Scott Air Force Base to a French Canadian and Native American mother, Anne, and an African-American and Irish father, Bill. Anne Syler had been in the Air Force and left the military when she wed Bill. She earned her college degree and subsequently became a teacher, however, after separating from Bill at the age of 48 she returned back to the Air Force, realizing that she could not depend on her then husband’s retirement.
When René was 10 years old, her father received shocking news. He was diagnosed with breast cancer. Years later, in 1997, her mother was also diagnosed. These two cases alarmed Rene’s doctors. After numerous biopsies, mammograms and an “atypical ductal hyperplasia” diagnosis (what many consider to be the stage right before cancer), Rene decided to have a radical procedure in 2007: a double mastectomy. This brave decision could have easily been the difference between life and death.
Though this was monumental in her life, it could not have come at a more difficult time. She had just been let go from the Early Show. In April of 2007 she told WGN, “I had my own breast disease diagnosed in 2003, hyperplasia atypia which is widely seen as a stage right before breast cancer. And after 4 biopsies in 4 years, it just was too much.” She continues that, “all of this was happening as I got fired from my job on the Early Show at CBS and was having my breast removed.”
After graduating from California State University, Sacramento with a psychology degree in 1987, she began her career in broadcast news, proving her journalistic prowess through reporter and anchor roles in Reno, Birmingham and Dallas. In 2002 she became known nationally as the co-host of The Early Show on CBS, and the first black female national morning show anchor.
Though being fired from the Early Show must have been difficult, it did not break Syler’s ambition. In 2007 she published Good-Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting describing how “good enough” is the new “perfect” when it comes to parenting. She also has a blog and online community where she openly talks about the realities of parenting her two children. Additionally, she has been active in the fight against breast cancer for years, even before her mastectomy, since both of her parents were breast cancer survivors. She is in her second year as a Susan G. Komen for the Cure Ambassador.
René Syler is clearly living her purpose through her work, advocacy and inspirational story. René, her husband and their two children reside in New York. Learn more about her story and view photos of her family here.