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On Monday's Good Morning America, thr show's perennially cheery host Robin Roberts made an emotional announcement. Surrounded by her fellow news anchors (George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer and Sam Champion), Roberts fought back tears as she revealed that she's been diagnosed with a rare blood and bone-marrow disorder called Myelodysplastic Syndrome, or MDS. Roberts, 51, explained that the condition most likely stemmed from her treatment for breast cancer five years ago. (Watch the announcement below.)
"Sometimes treatment for cancer can lead to other serious medical issues, and that's what I'm facing right now," she said. "The reason I am sharing this with everybody now is that later today I'm going to begin pre-treatment... to prepare me for a bone-marrow transplant." (On Roberts' GMA blog, she clarified that the treatment involved chemotherapy in advance of the transplant.)
Her donor will be her big sister, Sally-Ann, whose bone marrow is a near perfect match, and the surgery will take place later this summer or fall.
Although she appeared visibly shaken, Roberts is optimistic about her chances. "I am going to beat this. My doctors say it and my faith says it," she declared. "It's about focusing on the fight and not the fright."
Ironically, Roberts was diagnosed with the disease at one of the proudest moments in her career. "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," Roberts wrote in a message to fans on the GMA website. "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."
Roberts admitted that there are some scary statistics about the disease's prognosis. (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author Roald Dahl is among those who've succumbed to the disease.) But her doctors are optimistic that Roberts' relative youth and good health will help her beat the condition.
"If you Google MDS, you may find some scary stuff, including statistics that my doctors insist don't apply to me," Roberts writes. "They say I'm younger and fitter than most people who confront this disease and will be cured... I am very fortunate to have a sister who is an excellent match, and this greatly improves my chances for a cure." We're rooting for you, Robin!