Nearly five years after announcing that she had breast cancer, "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts Monday told viewers she has been diagnosed with a rare and potentially fatal blood disorder that was likely contracted as a result of her treatment for the cancer.
Roberts, 51, said she'll undergo a bone-marrow transplant later this year. Her sister Sally-Ann Roberts, a TV anchor in New Orleans, will be the donor. Surrounded by colleagues, Robin Roberts said, "I am going to beat this. My doctors say this and my faith says this." She added, "It's about focusing on the fight, not the fright."
In a note to the media, she said she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, "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!"
ABC's medical correspondent, Dr. Richard Besser, said Roberts had blood tests that disclosed the disorder after she felt more fatigued than could be expected by someone who had to get up for a 7 a.m. show every day.
Roberts said she'd miss a "chunk of time" on the air, either late summer or fall, depending on pre-treatment, which began Monday. (She tweeted late Monday: "Just got home from 1st treatment. All went well. My family & I are comforted by your prayers.")
She'll remain on the air until the transplant begins. When she takes off for treatment and recuperation, "20/20" anchor Elizabeth Vargas is expected to help fill in on "GMA."
Dr. Ruthee-Lu Bayer, director of stem cell transplantation at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, said Monday that "this process of stem cell transplantation is becoming more and more routine," and the long-term survival rate is 50 percent. Bayer is not involved with Roberts' treatment.
Noting that Roberts' sister will be the donor, Bayer said "there is a chance, and I would say it's a good chance, she will be OK. I have many patients in my practice right now that have been in the same boat she is and they're doing quite well." With AP