Robin Roberts, who was one of the most influential people in cancer last year, returns to “Good Morning America” today after recovering from MDS and a bone marrow transplantation.
ABC has documented her treatment and recovery from when she made her announcement to returning to the morning show, saying, “I’ve been waiting 174 days to say this: Good Morning, America.”
Call it the Katie Couric effect, but Robin Roberts’ announcement of her cancer diagnosis on GMA on June 11 had thousands of people Googling “MDS” and eventually registering to be a bone marrow donor with the non-profit organization, Be the Match.
The disease, which was most likely due to breast cancer treatment she received in 2007, is a rare blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndromes that affects the blood cells in the bone marrow. If left untreated, it can develop into acute myelogenous leukemia.
While only about 30 percent of patients who require a stem cell transplant have a related donor, Roberts found a match in her sister Sally-Ann. Knowing that most patients aren’t as fortunate, Roberts encouraged viewers to join the Be the Match registry. (You can view that video here.)
In the 24 hours after announcing her diagnosis this past summer, potential donor applications on the Be the Match website increased 1000 percent.
In addition, friends of Roberts created a plastic wristband that contains her initials RRR and the words “Light Love Power Presence” to help raise awareness and funds for the organization.
Roberts, and essentially GMA, have documented her journey through the 100-day post-transplantation milestone, which she celebrated on Dec. 29. (Several complications can arise in the three months following the procedure, including graft-versus-host disease). She tweeted “All will be serene in 2013,” a motto she credits to her sister, Dorothy.
She has received the all-clear from her doctors after her blood tests came back clean earlier this month. Roberts will be easing back into the anchor chair, but is set for an interview with First Lady Michelle Obama soon and will be at the Oscars this Sunday. But it’s the impact that she’s had raising awareness of secondary cancers and MDS, her encouragement of Be the Match’s donor drive during her treatment and recovery, and giving attitude throughout that will most assuredly result in lives saved.
Welcome back, Robin.