“Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts announced Monday that she is battling a rare blood disorder, just five years after beating breast cancer. Through tears, she promised viewers, “I am going to beat this,” reports Fox News.
Roberts, 51, said it was her treatment for breast cancer that led to other “serious medical issues.” She said she is battling “MDS – myelodysplastic syndrome. It is a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow.”
She said she chose to make the announcement Monday because she is beginning pre-treatment later today.
“I didn’t want you to be concerned if you see a bandage tomorrow,” she added, before revealing that she will be given “drugs … for a period of time … to prepare me for a bone marrow transplant.”
Roberts said that while bone marrow matches are difficult to find, particularly for African American women, her sister was a perfect match.
“Bottom line: I am going to beat this. My doctors say it and my faith says it to me.”
In a letter to her colleagues, Roberts revealed that she has known about her diagnosis for some time, finding out the day that “GMA” beat the “Today Show” in ratings for the first time in 16 years in April. She also added that during her first bone marrow extraction procedure, she learned she would be interviewing President Obama.
Roberts also added that she will continue to anchor at ABC News. The network president Ben Sherwood said they would stand “arm in arm with her as she fights this new battle” and called her the “captain of our ‘GMA’ team.”
Robin Roberts full, heartfelt letter to fans, posted on the “Good Morning America” website reads:
As many of you know, 5 years ago I beat breast cancer. I’ve always been a fighter, and with all of your prayers and support, a winner.
Sometimes the treatment for cancer can cause other serious medical problems. Today, I want to let you know that I’ve been diagnosed with MDS or myelodysplastic syndrome. It’s a disease of the blood and bone marrow and was once known as preleukemia.
My doctors tell me I’m going to beat this — and I know it’s true.
If you Google MDS, you may find some scary stuff, including statistics that my doctors insist don’t apply to me. They say I’m younger and fitter than most people who confront this disease and will be cured.
Today, I will start what is known as pre-treatment -– chemotherapy in advance of a bone marrow transplant later this year. Bone marrow donors are scarce and particularly for African-American women. I am very fortunate to have a sister who is an excellent match, and this greatly improves my chances for a cure. As you know from my recent interview with Mark Zuckerberg, organ donation is vitally important. Many people don’t realize they can be bone marrow donors. I encourage everyone to sign up on a donor registry like bethematch.org.
I received my MDS diagnosis on the very day that Good Morning America finally beat the Today Show for the first time in 16 years. Talk about your highs and lows! Then a few weeks ago, during a rather unpleasant procedure to extract bone marrow for testing, I received word that I would interview President Obama the next day. The combination of landing the biggest interview of my career and having a drill in my back reminds me that God only gives us what we can handle and that it helps to have a good sense of humor when we run smack into the absurdity of life.
Bottom line: I’ve been living with this diagnosis for awhile and will continue to anchor GMA. I love what I do and the people with whom I do it. Along with my faith, family and friends, all of you at ABC News give me the motivation and energy to face this challenge.
Going forward, it’s business as usual at GMA, which means I’ll be right here every day with George, Sam, Josh and Lara. When I miss a day here or there, I’m fortunate that some very talented friends at ABC News will fill-in. When I undergo the transplant later this year, I’ll miss a chunk of time.
When I faced breast cancer, your prayers and good wishes sustained me, gave me such hope and played a major role in my recovery. In facing this new challenge, I ask humbly for more of your prayers and love – as I will keep you in my mine and update you regularly on my condition.
Love and blessings,