By Monica Land
NEW YORK – Mississippi native and “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts is facing a new medical challenge that will require her to start chemotherapy and get a bone marrow transplant.
The veteran journalist – who battled breast cancer just five years ago – announced on the ABC show Monday morning that she has been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as preleukemia.
In a statement, Roberts said “sometimes the treatment for cancer can cause other serious medical problems,” and she will undergo chemo and a bone marrow transplant this year as “pretreatment” for the disease.
Roberts, who grew up on the coast in Pass Christian, said she’s known about her condition for months.
“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!,” Roberts said in a statement. “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, she said.”
Roberts said her sister, a news anchor in New Orleans, is a great match for her.
“Bone marrow donors are scarce…particularly for African-American women, she said. “I am very fortunate to have a sister who is an excellent match, and this greatly improves my chances for a cure.”
Roberts – referring to an earlier interview with Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg – stressed that organ donation is vitally important.
“Many people don’t realize they can be bone marrow donors,” she said. “I encourage everyone to sign up on a donor registry like bethematch.org.”
Roberts began her pre-treatment-chemotherapy Monday in advance of the bone marrow transplant later this year and said she‘ll miss a day “here and there“ and “a chunk of time“ for the transplant recovery. But until then, she said “going forward, it’s business as usual at Good Morning America.”
“I’ve been living with this diagnosis for awhile and will continue to anchor GMA,” she said. “I love what I do and the people with whom I do it…which means I’ll be right here every day…My doctors tell me I’m going to beat this -and I know it’s true.”