Robin Roberts battling 'rare blood disorder'

12:11 PM, Jun 11, 2012   |    comments
Robin Roberts works at the 83rd annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in February 2011. (USA Today)
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NEW YORK -- A teary Robin Roberts announced on Good Morning America Monday that she is facing new health issue.

Five years ago, she said, "I beat breast cancer. ... Sometimes treatment for cancer can lead to other serious medical issues. That's what I'm facing right now. MDS - myelodysplastic syndrome. It is a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow."

Roberts, 51, went to say that she was sharing the the news "because later today I begin pre-treatment ... I didn't want you to be concerned if you see a bandage tomorrow." She said she will be given "drugs ... for a period of time ... to prepare me for a bone marrow transplant."

Her big sister is a perfect match and will be her donor. "Bottom line: I am going to beat this. My doctors say it and my faith says it to me."

Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos noted that Roberts has had it "for a while," and found out the day she interviewed President Obama on May 9. "I am just in awe of the way you've handled it," he told her, adding, "We love you and know you're going to beat this."

Said Roberts, who noted the transplant will happen later this summer or in fall. "It's about focusing on the fight, not the fright."

ABC doc Richard Bresser explains, "MDS is a malignant disorder of the bone marrow ... The side effects from this preparatory treatment should not be severe. She may feel a bit more tired than usual. Then, once her bone marrow is ready, she will undergo a bone marrow transplant. Her doctors can't say exactly when this will take place, but probably sometime this fall. During that period, she will need to be away from work for a number of months while her bone marrow recovers.

"Many patients with MDS are cured and go on to live long and productive lives. The good news is that her doctors expect Robin to be cured. She is young and incredibly healthy. Published statistics don't shed much light on her prognosis as the vast majority of patients with this condition are diagnosed in their 70's and 80's. Robin has a donor who is an excellent match, an important prognostic factor."

(USA Today)

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