Today "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts is celebrating the end of her chemotherapy!
Six months ago Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then she has continued to host "Good Morning America" while fighting the disease and receiving treatment.
On her last day, Roberts shared a conversation with her doctor and some of her "little rituals" for getting through her "least favorite parts."
"I thought about this day and even knowing I have more ahead of me, you have to appreciate and celebrate the various moments. But this is a milestone. The last day of chemo is a milestone," Roberts said.
End of Chemo
Roberts received eight chemotherapy treatments over eight months. She says the actual treatment isn't painful and in fact, you "don't feel a thing."
Robin's oncologist, Ruth Oratz, compares chemotherapy to a fire and Roberts thinks it's appropriate.
"You know when we think about this tumor in the breast — that's the fire burning in the fireplace — and the fire goes down, goes out when the surgeon removes the tumor. But you know, if you poke around in the bottom of that fireplace, there could be a few little embers in there that could catch up again spark a big flame. We don't want that to happen. So if we dump a whole big bucket of water in that fireplace and put out those last ashes, hopefully we've put out any chance of the fire starting up again and that's what the chemo therapy is," said Oratz.
"I feel abundantly blessed because no two cancer patients are the same and how they deal with chemotherapy," said Roberts.
"It is impossible to predict. We can give the same exact treatment to two women and one breezes through and the other one has more side effects. So we really try to focus on what's happening with each individual woman as she's going through treatment, making adjustments as we go making little adjustments in the recipe and getting you through with as few side effects as possible," said Oratz.
"It creeps into your head. … Are we getting it all? You can't help but you block it all as best you can," said Roberts about the worries that she fought back.
"That's going to be there for a while, but with each day that you're well and each week and each year you'll learn to trust yourself. But it takes time," Oratz said.
"So when do I get my life back? When do I not feel tingle in my fingers? When does that happen?" Roberts asked.
"Well it took us five months to get you into this place, so that's how long it's going to take you to get out. So think of that arch," Oratz replied.
"I just want me back. I love life. I'm just tired of feeling how I look right now. It just gets old," said Roberts.
"Feeling like you stepped out of yourself, it's kind of like you've been on a leave of absence from Robin and you will you will," said Oratz, full of comfort and hope for Robin's recovery.
"Can you write that down somewhere?" Roberts said back with a laugh.
Roberts credits Oratz and "her incredible team" for helping give her the "best care imaginable," but also says her buddies and rituals were crucial too.
Getting Through It
"I don't know what I would have done without my 'chemo buddies,' family and friends, who would sit with me for hours … and a familiar face never came empty handed!" Roberts said. She shared that "GMA" co-anchor Diane Sawyer would often bring her "contraband" comfort food like french fries.
Roberts calls the iPod headphones Sawyer gave her "magic shields." She listened to music during the treatments and said "they kind of fend things off."
Her sister, Dorothy, made Roberts a bracelet she calls a "breastfriends bracelet," with a picture of a butterfly on it that Roberts wears for strength. "It signifies new beginnings," she said.
Before her first treatment, Roberts was given by her friends an iPod loaded with photos of them corresponding with their favorite songs to inspire her.
"It's like a little slideshow that goes by with different songs. … It was a great idea by my friends and they just wanted me to know they were here with me, they were here with me," she said.
Sawyer joined Roberts for her last day. As she sat in the chair, listening to her iPod, enduring one last treatment, Roberts was full of joy.
Photo taken by Claudio Musajo
"Have you decided if you'll go back on the air with short hair?" Sawyer joked with her.
"If I look like Halle Berry, I will," Roberts said with a laugh.