"I'm not worried about having to be here, or the need to be here," Roberts said. "I want to be here."
The return date was important psychologically because it was during Academy Awards coverage last year that Roberts said she felt bone-tired, almost unable to work, and went to the doctor shortly afterward for the blood test that turned up her disease.
She said her hair stylist came up with a wig for her to wear with bangs similar to Michelle Obama's. But Roberts said viewers had already seen her on the air with her thin layer of hair and she thought a wig would be too distracting.
"It's freeing, it really is," she said.
Amy Robach and Elizabeth Vargas largely filled in for Roberts during her absence, although there were occasional celebrity "guest hosts" like Charlie Sheen, Stephen Colbert and Jessica Simpson. The show didn't miss a beat, not losing a single week to NBC's "Today" show while she was gone, a development Sherwood admitted was a surprise. An unintended consequence was that her absence enabled an ensemble that also includes Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer and Sam Champion to grow stronger and become more familiar to viewers, he said.
The "Today" show sent a gift basket that "Good Morning America" displayed in its studio, and gave Roberts an on-air welcome.
"She's looking and feeling great," said NBC's Savannah Guthrie. "And I know we're all really happy for her."
The return of Roberts, which Sherwood called "a day that we all rejoice," could also give ABC new momentum in the contest for morning television dominance. NBC's top anchor, Matt Lauer, is on vacation this week.
"Having Robin back is going to take us to new levels, to new heights," Cibrowski said.