Robin Roberts' battle with Myelodysplastic Syndrome

(WXYZ) - On the set of Good Morning America, Robin Roberts has always been a beaming picture of good health.

Never did she imagine she'd be battling breast cancer for all the world to see in  2008.

The combination of chemotherapy and radiation allowed Robin to beat breast cancer, but  treatment also damaged her stem cells and brought on a rare blood disorder called Myelodysplastic Syndrome or MDS.

About 1 percent of women get MDS--for others MDS can transform into a deadly cancer, but Robin was fortunate.

"Sometimes treatment for cancer can lead to other serious medical issues and that's what I'm facing," said Roberts.

With tears in her eyes, it was a tough and tearful announcement for Robin to make to her GMA co-workers and audience.

We went to Dr. Adil Akhtar who is the chief at Beaumont's Cancer and Leukemia Center to learn more about Robin's struggles. He uses his own paintings to uplift patients battling cancer or MDS.

"So for Robin,  it's very difficult to work if you start having MDS, you're tired all the time you're fatigued all of the time, so how rare is it to find someone who can give you a bone marrow transplant like her sister's--she was pretty lucky," said Dr. Akhtar.

You have a 25 percent chance to find a family match for a bone marrow donor. One of Robin's siblings was a perfect match. Robin had to go through eight days of chemotherapy to prepare for the transplant. 

"This journey is as much about the mind as it is about the body, you have to change the way you think to change the way you feel," said Robin.

Now that she's undergone the bone marrow transplant, she still faces some challenges.

"I don't think she's out of the woods, because after transplant there are three or four landmarks," said Dr. Akhtar.

Those landmarks included being released from the hospital 30 days after the transplant, a reduction of medications after 100 days, the clear to return to work after six months to a year—for Robin, it's only been five months.

Down the road for Robin, doctors say there are risks--her body could attack her sister's bone marrow  and her MDS could come back.

Robin's doctors gave her a 30-to-40 survival rate after transplant.

Her dream always--to return to Good Morning America.

 

"Part of my motivation always was to come back to you-- the wonderful GMA audience," said Roberts.
 

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