Robin Roberts surprised viewers Thursday when she announced during Good Morning America that she would start her extended medical leave a day earlier than planned.
“I’m having to move up my schedule,” Roberts, 51, said, noting that today, and not Friday would be her last day on the air for a while she fights to regain her health.
Roberts — diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (commonly known as “MDS”) , a side effect of her treatment for breast cancer five years ago– says that she will first fly home to Mississippi to be with her sick mother, Lucimarian, and her family who lives in the path of Hurricane Isaac.
Roberts will then be treated for her condition and will prepare to undergo a bone-marrow transplant; her sister Sally is the bone marrow donor.
Roberts is expected to be on medical leave for several months.
George Stephanopoulos, who’s in Florida to cover the Republican National Convention, tweeted a personal message to his co-anchor, writing: I’m in Tampa, but my heart is with you today, @RobinRoberts #TeamRobin.
Roberts leave on GMA comes at a critical time for the ABC morning program, which recently surpassed NBC’s TODAY show in the ratings, amidst fallout from the firing of Ann Curry and continual negative press about Matt Lauer and his relationship with staffers on the show.