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Good Morning, Robin!

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center nurses who cared for TV host enjoy visit to Good Morning America

Monday March 25, 2013
Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, third from left, poses with MSKCC staff on the set of the show. From left are Jenny Tran, RN, night shift inpatient BMT nurse; Lorraine Jackson, RN, outpatient BMT nurse practitioner; Roberts; Sheila Kenny, RN, outpatient BMT nurse practitioner; Tonya Samuel, day shift nursing assistant, BMT unit; Theresa Mathews, RN, day shift inpatient BMT nurse; and Julie Kleber, RN, night shift inpatient BMT nurse.
Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, third from left, poses with MSKCC staff on the set of the show. From left are Jenny Tran, RN, night shift inpatient BMT nurse; Lorraine Jackson, RN, outpatient BMT nurse practitioner; Roberts; Sheila Kenny, RN, outpatient BMT nurse practitioner; Tonya Samuel, day shift nursing assistant, BMT unit; Theresa Mathews, RN, day shift inpatient BMT nurse; and Julie Kleber, RN, night shift inpatient BMT nurse.
(Photo courtesy Lorraine Jackson)
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Photo courtesy MSKCC Inpatient unit staff say goodbye to TV host Robin Roberts on her day of discharge from MSKCC.
After receiving a bone marrow transplant for the rare blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome late last year, Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts returned to the show’s New York City studio.

On the Feb. 20 "Welcome Back, Robin Roberts," episode of the ABC-TV daytime news program, Roberts had company.

The veteran TV host acknowledged the staff members who cared for her at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City during her inpatient and outpatient stays, publicly thanking them in front of millions of viewers.

Sheila A. Kenny, RN, MSN, NP-C, and Lorraine Jackson, RN, MA, ACNP-BC, were among six MSKCC staff members — including Jenny Tran, RN, BSN; Tonya Samuel, NA; Theresa Mathews, RN, MS, OCN; and Julie Kleber, RN, BSN — Roberts invited into the studio that day. Kenny and Jackson are nurse practitioners on Sloan-Kettering’s outpatient bone marrow transplant unit. Both were active in Roberts’ care upon her discharge from the inpatient service. Kenny and Jackson described the experience of being on GMA as somewhat surreal.

"It was really exciting because you didn’t know what to expect," Jackson said. "They gave us VIP wristbands and then took us to the green room. I was more anxious because I just thought we were going to be in the audience."

The highlight for the nurses came after Roberts completed an interview with her physician and MSKCC’s chief of medicine.

"Once that was completed, she stood up and she said, 'I would like everyone here to give a standing ovation and recognize my nurses,’ and everyone stood up," Kenny said. "Even the crew in the control room (stood and cheered)."

The gesture was completely genuine, according to Kenny, who said Roberts wanted to be treated just like any other patient.

"She’s a lovely person who did not seek any special attention," Kenny said. "She was a joy to take care of. She was very appreciative and very respectful of all the staff ... from nursing to pharmacy."

Although they were not in the studio that day, the nurses on both the inpatient and outpatient services were just as excited, according to Jackson and Kenny. The nurses appreciated the accolades from Roberts, but were just happy to get to know her.

"She touched all of our lives," Kenny said. "She values every moment and every day. It’s a gift when you’re caring for patients who are able to teach you."

The shining moment wasn’t just for the nurses who cared for Roberts. "It wasn’t just for the handful of nurses that were there," Kenny said.

Jackson agreed. "It was just a great moment for nursing in general," she said. "It was all about nursing across the board. We were just fortunate to come across her path and be recognized."

Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter.


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What is MDS?

What is MDS?
Myelodysplastic syndrome is the name of a group of conditions that occur when the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow are damaged. This damage leads to low numbers of one or more type of blood cells. This is the syndrome TV host Robin Roberts suffered from and recently received treatments for at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Types of myelodysplastic syndrome
The original classification of myelodysplastic syndrome, known as MDS, was developed more than 20 years ago at an international conference attended mostly by doctors from France, the United States and Great Britain. This system was known as the French-American-British (FAB) classification.
The system used today is the World Health Organization (WHO) classification. This system seems to be more helpful than the FAB classification in predicting prognosis. There are seven categories of MDS in the WHO system —
Refractory cytopenia with unilineage dysplasia (RCUD)
Refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS)
Refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia (RCMD)
Refractory anemia with excess blasts-1 (RAEB-1)
Refractory anemia with excess blasts-2 (RAEB-2)
Myelodysplastic syndrome, unclassified (MDS-U)
Myelodysplastic syndrome associated with isolated del (5q)
Most of these categories are determined by the appearance of the cells in the blood and the bone marrow. One category is defined by a certain chromosome change in the bone marrow cells. Because small differences in the way the cells look can change the diagnosis, doctors may sometimes disagree on the exact MDS category for a patient’s disease.
In the U.S., MDS occurs at a rate of 4.5 cases for every 100,000 people. That works out to about 12,000 new cases of MDS each year. The number of new cases diagnosed each year seems to be increasing as the average age of the population has increased.
About 80% to 90% of all patients with MDS are older than 60. It is rare in young adults.
Source: Cancer.org