Robin Roberts made a live appearance on “Good Morning America” today, announcing plans to return to the show.
“I’m coming home,” Roberts said in a live interview from her New York City apartment. “We’re talking now a matter of weeks, not months.”
Roberts announced that her most recent test, 138 days after the bone marrow transplant she underwent in September, showed no sign of abnormality, meaning she can begin the process of returning to “GMA.”
“I’m so happy to be sharing this news with everybody,” Roberts said. “We’re going to take it step by step…I’m listening to my doctors. I’m taking everything into account but this is a next step and I’m so excited to be sharing it with everyone.”
Roberts, a former ESPN anchor, likened the process of her return to an athlete coming off the injured reserve list, easing their way back into the game as opposed to jumping into the starting lineup.
“Part of the process of re-entry is I got up at 4 a.m. this morning,” Roberts said. “That’s one thing I have not missed is that alarm clock.”
Roberts told her fellow anchors she will be doing a “dry run” next week, coming to the “GMA” studio in Times Square and going through hair and makeup but staying off-air as she adjusts to being back in her surroundings.
“My skin is very sensitive and so we have to see how it reacts to the studio lights. My vision is still a little blurry from the treatment,” she said. ” All of this is getting better day by day so that is the next step.
“After I go through this dry run my doctors will sit down with me again and we’ll evaluate where I am,” Roberts said. “I should be back sometime in February. Now I have a date in mind that’s very personal and very important to me but I will ultimately listen to, of course, what my doctors say and, course, we have to remember we’re in the height of flu season. There’s a lot of factors still.”
Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor who has been working with Roberts throughout her treatment, also highlighted the importance of protecting Roberts from the flu.
“Her immune system, what protects her from infections, is still rebuilding,” he said today on “GMA.” “She can’t get a flu shot yet. Her body won’t respond to that. It’s not affecting it which is why it’s important for other people to get that flu shot to protect her and I can’t tell you how many people here at Times Square studio have told me this is the first year they got a flu shot and they got it for Robin.”
Roberts took to Twitter last week, writing, “See you VERY soon,” to her fellow “GMA” anchors, prompting speculation about her return to “GMA.” In a blog post, titled “Wonderful Wednesday,” she shared the “very encouraging news” that her doctors are pleased with her recovery.
“I am excited but there’s a range of emotions,” Roberts said today. “I haven’t been live on television since the end of August. My heart is beating so fast right now but, you know what, it means I’m alive, I’m alive and I’m so grateful to be excited as I am and I can’t wait to be back.”
In late December, Roberts celebrated the crucial 100-day benchmark, a milestone in her recovery from the September bone marrow transplant, according to her doctor, Dr. Gail Roboz, the oncologist at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“What we know now is that we can’t see any of the disease that prompted this whole process right now,” Roboz said. “That’s really, that’s what we were looking for. For right now, did we get rid of what we started out getting rid of?”
Roberts, a breast cancer survivor, underwent the transplant to treat myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS, a rare blood disorder that affects the bone marrow. The transplant was a five-minute procedure in which the donor cells from Robin’s sister, Sally-Ann, were injected into Robin’s system through a syringe.
Since the September transplant, her doctors have been tracking her recovery and monitoring her weakened immune system to ensure that her system is successfully acclimating to the new bone marrow. Her doctors have called her recovery strong.
“She is doing wonderfully,” Roboz said. “There are many patients who at this point after a transplant are not at all having a conversation about going back to work, let alone the type of work that she does, so we are thrilled that she’s doing so well.”
The “GMA” anchor made a special appearance in December at the New York City wedding of her “GMA” colleague Sam Champion to Rubem Robierb. Roberts played a part in the nuptials, reading a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Roberts first announced her diagnosis on “GMA” in July and has been on medical leave from “GMA” since Aug. 30.
“‘GMA’ viewers, your messages, your prayers, your well wishes, have given me an enormous amount of strength and hope,” she said. “As I said, I’m just so incredibly grateful.”