updated 03/21/2014 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 03/21/2014 AT 4:00 PM ET
“She and I actually sit in the exact same seat. Where she had chemo for breast cancer, I’m having chemo,” Robach told PEOPLE at Thursday’s National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association’s 19th Annual benefit in New York City, where she and husband Andrew Shue caught up with industry friends and colleagues.
“When [Robin] found that out, without any cameras or any hoopla, she surprised me and met me at my first round of chemo and walked me to her chair,” Robach says. “So we have a special bond that will always be there.”
Robach says Roberts also provides encouraging company on the GMA set: “When I show up to work each day, she’s sitting there. Knowing she did what she did It makes me feel empowered.”
Along with Roberts and her family, Robach credits her busy schedule with helping her to get through.
“The work keeps me going. Anyone who’s gone through cancer or any major illness [knows] it is a mental battle more than it is a physical one,” she says.
“Feeling like I have a purpose is very helpful. Mentally, I feel stronger knowing I’m still me. I still have my job. My life isn’t just cancer. So it’s very important for me to try and get my butt up.”
Perhaps best of all, Robach says, “I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”