Robin Roberts has been waiting 174 days to say “Good Morning America.”
“GMA” anchor Robin Roberts returned to the show Wednesday morning after a five-month medical leave in which she was treated for myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder, ABC News reported.
Roberts underwent a bone marrow transplant five months ago to treat the condition and opened the show this morning in the Times Square studio alongside her four co-anchors. She said she visualized returning throughout her recovery.
“It’s going to seem like no time has passed at all,” she said Wednesday morning.
Roberts officially announced her return on Feb. 6 after receiving an “all clear” from doctors. Over the past two weeks, she has been practicing for her return debut. She went through a series of “dry runs” in the Times Square studio to acclimate herself with the studio lights and the anchor chair again.
“I keep pinching myself, and I realize this is real,” Roberts said on-air this morning as she and George Stephanopoulos opened the show. “I share this morning, this day of celebration, with everyone,” she said.
President Barack Obama and the first lady released a video this morning welcoming Roberts back to “GMA” and congratulating her on her recovery.
“You’ve been an inspiration to all of us, and we couldn’t be happier that you’re back here doing what you do best,” President Obama said in the video message.
Roberts will be featured on a special edition of the ABC television series “20/20″ this Friday, in which she will share her personal journey of recovery.
Industry researchers have named her the most-liked host on any American morning news show, The New York Times reported.
Despite the excitement over her return, critics have been skeptical, arguing Roberts’ recovery may have been exploited for ratings.
Her return was promoted two weeks ahead of time and ABC was criticized for over-covering Roberts’ return by running commercials featuring celebrities welcoming her back to the show.
Jim Bell, executive producer of “GMA’s” chief competition, the “Today” show, suspected ABC’s exploitation of Roberts’ illness this summer. In an email to senior producers, Bell stated “GMA” was “using Robin’s illness and the accompanying public interest in her health as a new weapon in its arsenal,” the Times reported.
Despite current criticism, ABC did not readily acknowledge the seriousness of Roberts’ condition on air upon diagnosis. After the transplant, Roberts’ had to stay in isolation; both at the New York hospital and then at home, in order to give her immune system the opportunity to build itself up.
Bell’s replacement at the “Today” show, Don Nash, congratulated Roberts on her return Tuesday evening. “Robin is an outstanding broadcaster, a great colleague and friend to so many,” he said in an email to the Times.