ABC's Roberts has blood, bone marrow disorder

Associated Press Modified: June 11, 2012 at 8:45 pm •  Published: June 11, 2012
Advertisement
;

NEW YORK (AP) — Five years after being treated for breast cancer, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts has a new health fight on her hands.

Roberts said Monday she is beginning chemotherapy treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as preleukemia. She is expected to get a bone marrow transplant sometime this fall.

Her older sister, Sally Ann Roberts, an anchor for WWL-TV in New Orleans, is considered a perfect match to donate marrow and said she will do so.

"My doctors tell me I'm going to beat this, and I know it's true," Roberts, 51, said on the show Monday.

Sally Ann Roberts said she's thankful she has marrow her sister can use and that she can assist in her treatment.

"I'm just so very grateful that I did match her because there are many, many people right now who are dying for a match and have no one in their family who are eligible," Sally Ann Roberts said.

She said her family is now encouraging everyone to sign up to be donors.

"The wonderful thing about being a donor is that it takes so very little," Sally Ann Roberts said. "I will go through a physical and when ... the doctors deem it's time, I will be prepared with some injections to separate the marrow from the blood, then simply go through something like dialysis. I may miss a week of work, if that much."

Robin Roberts also hopes that attention paid to her diagnosis will encourage people to donate bone marrow that might help someone else with the disease.

She developed MDS as a result of her breast cancer treatment — a manner of transmission so unusual it affects only a few hundred people per year, said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC's medical correspondent.

The prognosis for many MDS patients is dire, but that's largely due to the disease primarily affecting people over age 60, Besser said. Between Roberts being young and healthy, and having already located a good donor in her sister, Besser said things look promising for her.

Continue reading this story on the...