(NEW YORK) — When ABC’s Robin Roberts returned to the Good Morning America anchor desk Wednesday morning, it was with a team of doctors and nurses behind her who supported her recovery and gave her the all-clear to return to the show.
“This is a collaboration,” Dr. Gail Roboz, the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center oncologist who is treating Roberts, said Wednesday on GMA. “She didn’t strong-arm us. She didn’t force us to do it but she was looking great and feeling very well and all the numbers are going in the right direction.”
Roberts’ return to GMA came five months to the day since she underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, a rare blood disorder. The transplant was a five-minute procedure in which the donor cells from Roberts’ sister Sally-Ann were injected into Roberts’ system through a syringe.
Since then, she has been working with her medical team — and doing yoga and lifting light weights — to get her recovery on track. Roberts, 52, credits her ability to return to GMA just 174 days after her transplant to her medical team and her wellness pre-transplant.
“I think that they [doctors] will tell you part of the reason I was able to recover as I have, so well, because I had done things before I got to this point,” she said. “That I was in relatively good health before that time.”
Roberts, a former basketball player, has followed her athlete’s intuition in striving for recovery, something her doctors say they have to monitor. Roberts’ GMA co-anchor George Stephanopoulos announced last Thursday that Roberts would appear on the red carpet at this Sunday’s Oscar ceremony. She will also soon interview first lady Michelle Obama.
“We didn’t exactly have in mind an interview with Mrs. Obama and the Oscars for this weekend as an easy start,” Roboz said to Roberts Wednesday on GMA. “That was not right up there for what we had in mind for easing back in but Dr. [Sergio] Giralt and I are learning to cope and we’re hopeful that the strength that you’re showing right now is just going to keep on going.”
Roberts and her doctors — including Roboz and Giralt, the chief of adult bone marrow transplants at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center — will take a day-by-day approach to her recovery and listen to Roberts’ body in determining how often she appears on GMA.
“Today is a dress rehearsal,” Giralt said. “It’s her first show and we’re going to see how she feels tomorrow. Tomorrow we’re going to debrief. We’re going to sit down. We’re going to talk. How do you feel? How was it? How tired are you? And depending on how this marathon weekend looks and how she feels on Monday, we’ll decide is it good to do three times a week, five times a week.”
Roberts said, “I saw Dr. Giralt yesterday and we looked in each other’s eyes and we talked about this morning and how I would feel and I know that a lot of it is adrenaline. And he was very honest in saying some of the patients, they go back a little too soon and then the next morning they can’t get up, but I have to say, physically, I have better platelets than Sally-Ann right now, so I’m very grateful.”
Roberts expressed her gratitude to not just Giralt and Roboz, but also to the team of nurses who saw her through her recovery process. The nurses were on hand in the show’s Times Square studio to see their patient’s return to GMA firsthand.
“I want to say this. The nurses, looking over at them, the technicians, the passion and compassion that you have for all your patients is admirable,” Roberts said. “And people have given me a standing ovation, we need to give these people a standing ovation.”
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