My family’s connection to and interest in ABC’s Robin Roberts continues and deepens.
When my niece, Mandy Poulter, and her husband, Matt, were wondering about the safety of their adopted daughter, Maya, at a Haitian orphanage following the 2010 earthquake, Roberts found Maya alive and safe and relayed the news to Mandy through Skype. A few days later, with some assistance from Roberts’ ABC colleagues, Mandy and Matt brought Maya home. (She’s doing great now, and Roberts has done some follow-up coverage.)
And any cancer survivor feels a connection of sorts to the people you meet or people in the public eye who battle cancer. I had surgery for colon cancer in 1999 and for basal cell skin cancer in 2005, so I was pulling for Roberts to beat breast cancer when she was diagnosed and treated in 2007 for breast cancer. But that’s a connection we share with some 12 million people.
Our latest connection is a much rarer health challenge. Roberts announced yesterday that she has Myelodysplastic Syndrome, diagnosed in 18,000 Americans a year. MDS is a group of blood disorders, so I don’t know that her disease is identical to the MDS my niece, Kat Devlin, was treated for last year, but in both cases, it was described as a possible precursor to leukemia. Beyond their age difference, Roberts’ MDS appears to have been caused by her cancer treatment. Doctors were studying a possible genetic tie in Kat’s case (her only sibling, Patrick, died of leukemia in 2009).
The treatment is similar. Roberts will receive a bone marrow transplant from her sister. Doctors could not find a suitable bone marrow donor for Kat, so she underwent a stem-cell transplant. Roberts’ treatment is not described to be as extreme and grueling as Kat’s or Patrick’s. They both spent months in hospitals, then months quarantined at home.
Kat is doing great now. She’s just finished her first year of high school, including track and field competition. I look forward to updates about Roberts’ successful recovery. We want her story to turn out as happily as Maya’s and Kat’s have.
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