Robin Roberts' Diagnosis & the Healing Power of Optimism

Robin Roberts at The Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection 2010Robin Roberts at The Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection 2010

By Sally Jones

Robin Roberts, co-host of the TV show "Good Morning America," announced yesterday that she has been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder where the bone marrow loses its ability to produce enough mature blood cells, including white blood cells that help fight infection and red blood cells that transport oxygen to various parts of the body. Roberts points out that her condition may have been brought on by chemotherapy and radiation treatments she underwent after her breast cancer diagnosis five years ago. "Sometimes the treatment for cancer can cause other serious medical problems," she says.

TV Anchor Robin Roberts Has Rare Bone Marrow Disorder

Adding that marrow donors are scarce, particularly for African-American women, Roberts says, "I am very fortunate to have a sister who is an excellent match, and this greatly improves my chances for a cure."

It is true that there are not enough donors of diverse racial and ethnic heritage to help all patients in need of a marrow transplant. The National Marrow Donor program matches donors and recipients.

Donation FAQs

Even with an ordinary blood donation, your plasma, platelets and red cells can be transfused into several different people and save lives.

More About Blood Donation and Transfusion

Are you a blood donor? Would you be interested in donating marrow? Discuss the pros and cons in the HealthyWomen Community.

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Common throughout all of Roberts' communications is her remarkable tone of strength, hope, and optimism: "I've always been a fighter, and with all of your prayers and support, a winner," Roberts writes in an online message to her fans late Monday.

And that hope and optimism may just be her biggest strength in beating this new health challenge.

Learn Why It's Good to Have Hope