(NEW YORK) — Wednesday will be a warm welcome home for ABC’s Robin Roberts, who returns to Good Morning America after a five-month absence.
Roberts left the show after being diagnosed with myelodysplatic syndrome, a rare blood and bone marrow disease. Roberts, a breast-cancer survivor, received a bone marrow transplant from her sister, whose stem cells turned out to be a perfect match. Though the 52-year-old anchor tells People magazine that her vision is blurry and she still has what she calls “chemo brain,” Roberts says she’s more than ready to return to the show, and her co-workers are thrilled to have her back.
“I miss her energy. I miss her smile. I miss her leadership,” GMA‘s Lara Spencer tells ABC News Radio. “I cannot wait until she’s back on the set just because, honestly, she makes us laugh. She’s a dear, dear friend and she truly is the leader of the show. And Wednesday it all begins again. I can’t believe it!”
Spencer says that there was never any fear that Roberts would end up staying out of work longer than five months, because before she left, she told her co-workers exactly when she’d be back: by the Academy Awards, which are this Sunday.
“Robin gave us the date…of the Oscars,” Spencer says, recalling that day in May when Roberts told the GMA team about her diagnosis. “She was like, ‘I will be back.’ And listen, if Robin says it, I would believe it if I were you! And sure enough, here we are.”
But while Roberts’ return to the show is cause for much celebration, Spencer says that Roberts doesn’t want people to make a fuss over her. “Robin has given us strict instructions to keep it normal,” Spencer tells ABC News Radio. “She doesn’t want it to feel different. She doesn’t want people to be too precious with her.”
Spencer adds, “She wants us to obviously be careful and she can’t get around to many people, but she really wants that normalcy. She calls it getting back in the saddle.”
What viewers won’t see, says Spencer, are any long, teary-eyed looks back at the struggle that Roberts went through. Roberts shared with People magazine that at one point during treatment, “I truly felt I was slipping away,” but Spencer says there’ll be none of that.
“Starting Wednesday what you’re going to see on the show is a celebration,” she says. “We’re not looking back at the fear or the sadness of it all. We’re looking forward at the fact that [Robin’s] come through it and she’s better than ever.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Madison Park and Frank Pallotta, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN