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Robin Roberts Had A Beautiful Moment With An Audience Member On The Anniversary of Her Bone Marrow Transplant

"We're all a little bit stronger than we think we are."

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In 2008, Robin Roberts was declared cancer-free after being treated for an early form of breast cancer. Four years later, she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, that led to her receiving an emergency, life-saving bone marrow transplant on Sept. 20, 2012.

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On Wednesday evening at BuzzFeed News' The Come-Up Is Real event, Roberts celebrated a healthy five years — a date she refers to as her "birthday" — by sharing the miraculous story of how her sister, Sally-Ann Roberts, was a perfect donor match, and how far advancements in bone marrow transplants have come.

Robin Roberts / Via

Roberts told BuzzFeed News that there is only a 3 in 10 chance that a family member will be a perfect match.

Roberts, who was candid but lighthearted about her experience, discussed how people often open up to her about their own experiences with transplants. “Someone will say to me, they’ll say, ‘Oh, I had a bone marrow transplant too’ — and I’m thinking, It must’ve been like a year ago — they’re like, ‘three weeks ago!’”

In an emotional moment, one brave audience member, Angelika, revealed that they found out this week they had a lump in their breast and asked for Roberts' advice on dealing with the health scare. (The exchange starts at 22:56.)

LIVE: @shani_o is chatting with @GMA's @RobinRoberts about cancer, marriage equality and much more ⬇️

"You know what, honey, I know — and especially in the early moments it's very uncertain — don't borrow trouble," Roberts said.

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"You don't know what it is yet, but I can tell by you having the courage to come up here and speak, you're going to have the courage and strength to face whatever that doctor says to you. And I know by the story I did today that there are great advances each and every day, and oftentimes it's as much mental as it is physical.

"And so surround yourself with positive people, get a second and third opinion, trust yourself, trust that you have put yourself into a position. Because there are a lot of people that don't find that, and you don't know what it is — and until you do, you keep..." (Here, Roberts mimed taking a sip of her wine, and Angelika took a "sip" in return.)

"But I mean, there are so many people who wouldn't have the courage to say what you just said," Roberts continued. "And you know what? It's OK for those people who don't, it's fine, but that tells me what you have. Own it. Own it! I wish you all the best, I wish you all the best, and we're all a little bit stronger than we think we are. Now you walk off with that good little look like that."

Roberts' positivity filled the room with optimism, as the audience applauded both Roberts and Angelika for their courage.

Marcus Jones is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Marcus Jones at

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