TAMPA - Five years ago Good Morning America's Robin Roberts beat breast cancer.
Today she talked about the new health crisis she's facing and how viewer's can help.
“Sometimes the treatment for cancer can lead to other serious medical problems. And that's what I'm facing right now. It's called MDS, myelodyplastic syndrome and if you're looking at me going what? I was doing the same thing." In the courageous fashion we have come to know, Robin Roberts told her GMA viewers about the blood and bone marrow disorder affecting her health. In her case, MDS was likely related to chemotherapy she received during her treatment for breast cancer.
Doctor Alan List, Physician and Chief of Moffitt Cancer Center says for most people this is a disease that occurs in their 70’s. “It occurs with aging itself. But for many people who have had chemotherapy, they're at risk for this. Chemotherapy can injure those stem cells in the bone marrow, so this type of malignancy can develop, usually on an average of three to five years later.”
List also runs the hospital’s MDS program, one of the biggest in the country.
“It can be a lethal disease whether it goes on to leukemia or not. The most common reason for death is infection because they have a low white count.”
The good news is there are some very good treatments, and for a younger individual like Robin, he says there's potential for cure with a stem cell transplant.
During her emotional announcement on GMA Robin said, “The reason I say I am blessed is my big sister is virtually a perfect match for me she's there with Diane and Ann Sweeney and she is going to be my donor. Thank you, Jesus.”
Dr. List says the symptoms for the blood disorder include fatigue, anemia and its often picked up in abnormal lab results.
Moffitt Cancer Center is joining with the National Marrow Donor program, All Children’s Hospital, USF and others to conduct a donor drive on Oct. 9 in the Tampa Bay area. For information, call (727) 348-5060 or visit www.bethematch.org .
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