12 June 2012

TV Co-Anchor Has Rare Bone Marrow Disease

Story first appeared in The Associated Press.

Five years after being treated for breast cancer, the "Good Morning America" co-host has a new health fight on her hands.

She said Monday she is beginning chemotherapy treatment for myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as preleukemia. She is expected to get a bone marrow transplant sometime this fall.

Her older sister, who is an anchor for WWL-TV in New Orleans, is considered a perfect match to donate marrow and said she will do so.

The patient's sister has said that she's thankful she has marrow her sister can use and that she can assist in her treatment. There are so many people without a match right now, and no one in their family are eligible to donate.

The wonderful thing about being a donor is that it takes so very little.

The patient also hopes that attention paid to her diagnosis will encourage people to donate bone marrow that might help someone else with the disease.

She developed MDS as a result of her breast cancer treatment - a manner of transmission so unusual it affects only a few hundred people per year, said ABC's medical correspondent.

The prognosis for many MDS patients is dire, but that's largely due to the disease primarily affecting people over age 60. Between the patient being young and healthy, and having already located a good donor in her sister, doctors have said that things look promising for her.

She has contributed to "Good Morning America" since 1995, and was named co-anchor in 2005. The former Southeastern Louisiana basketball star worked at ESPN for 15 years.

She had blood tests that disclosed the MDS after feeling fatigued, or more fatigued than even someone who had to get up for a 7 a.m. show every weekday might expect.

She learned of her diagnosis on the same day that "Good Morning America" beat "Today" for a week in the ratings for the first time in more than 16 years, Roberts said. On a day some of her bone marrow was extracted for testing, she also learned she had landed an interview with President Barack Obama where the president revealed his support for gay marriage.

She will take some occasional days off from "Good Morning America" depending on her reaction to treatment. She will probably need to take a couple of months away from the show immediately after the bone marrow transplants. Her current team of colleagues will pick up the slack for her, with occasional co-hosts joining.

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