Robin Roberts‘ battle against her rare blood disease passed a big milestone yesterday afternoon when she was allowed to leave Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and return home, 21 days after her bone marrow transplant for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).
Roberts appeared strong and radiant, though thinner, as she danced and sang the gospel song “Amen” to celebrate her release from the hospital. Her release from the hospital was captured on video and shown this morning on “Good Morning, America,” where her co-host George Stephanopolous interviewed her oncologist, Dr. Gail Roboz, who spoke about the challenges Roberts faces as her immune system rebuilds itself while she tries to avoid germs and infection.
In a tweet to her fans on Thursday morning, Roberts wrote, “There’s no place like home. After 30 days in the hospital I’m home. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Thank YOU and bless YOU. XO”
The video shows Roberts greeting the nurses and doctors at the hospital before she left, telling them they were “rock stars” but adding, “Don’t take it the wrong way. I hope I never see you again. Except at the anniversary party!”
Robin’s transplant specialist, Dr. Sergio Giralt, is shown explaining to her that her immune system is less than 20 days old. She appears somewhat chastened by the warning.
Later, Roberts addresses the camera and says, “Part of my motivation is to come back to you, the wonderful GMA audience. We’ve often called you family and you’ve never felt more like family.”
When she returned to her apartment, Roberts was joined by family, including sister Sally-Ann, from whom she received the bone marrow that was transplanted into her body. “Home sweet home!” she said lustily, raising her arms in triumph as she looked out at the gorgeous river view from her large living room window.
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“She batted this part out of the park,” Dr. Roboz told Stephanopolous on “Good Morning, America.” “She got through this initial phase beautifully. That’s not to say there weren’t hard days. There were very hard days, a lot of unpleasantness…But we’re not done yet. There’s a lot more to come. Her 20-day-old immune system needs to kick in. So the next 80 days in that first 100 is very important after transplant. It’s for the immune system to take hold. And for her to regain her strength. She’s got to get her hair back, she’s got to get her strength back, she’s got to rebuild in every sense…But most importantly, the bugs of the world are the terrorists. and we are still on red alert.”
“So I will still be resting away from GMA until I’m given the all clear, but sleeping in my own bed again feels like a big victory,” Roberts wrote on her blog.