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Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts� Health Battle and Separation from Dog

If you have a TV and are interested in the news, you’ve probably seen ABC’s Good Morning America host Robin Roberts on your screen.

Roberts’ valiant health battles have been very public. We’ve seen her in the best and worst of times, where she even documented her hospitalization and chemotherapy treatments for audiences worldwide. I feel it’s very noble for such a public figure to expose herself in order to better educate the world about her process of sickness and recovery.

Roberts has beaten breast cancer in the past and was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in 2012. Roberts’ treatment for MDS required heavy suppression of her immune system so that her body could receive a marrow transplant.

Being immunosuppressed left Roberts susceptible to secondary infections (bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc.), which could of potentially transferred from other people or animals. Unfortunately for Roberts, she needed to be isolated from her beloved Jack Russell terrier, KJ.  

Roberts detailed their separation in October on her ABC News blog (excerpted below):

Many have asked about my beloved Jack Russell terrier, KJ. She is enjoying a crisp fall day in Maine. Dear friends are continuing to care for her as I recuperate from my bone marrow transplant. (They even made her a collar like my bracelet!)

My doctors want my immune system to be stronger before she comes home. I miss her so much...she's been in my life almost 15 years! I am grateful to be back home.

What are you most grateful for today? Wishing you continued blessings..X0

Like Roberts, I have experience with chronic and fatal diseases due to the fact that my dog Cardiff suffers from a disease called Immune Medicated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA). This serious illness happens when the immune system destroys the body’s normal tissues, specifically red blood cells.

Like Roberts, Cardiff needed to undergo immunosuppressive treatment. Unlike Roberts, Cardiff did not receive a bone marrow transplant. Drugs were used to stop his immune system from destroying red blood cells, a blood transfusion replaced lost cells, and time (and patience) permitted the bone marrow to replenish the body’s supply.

When he became healthy enough to be around others in a service capacity, I had Cardiff certified for emotional support work with Actors and Others for Animals (AOFA). Their Pet Assisted Therapy program put him through a variety of behavioral based tests to ensure he was an appropriate choice to spend time around the ill and elderly.

I feel obligated to do my part for those in need of some cheer by taking Cardiff to a hospital or nursing home to help brighten their days. It’s great to see the effect Cardiff’s presence has on people suffering from illness or injury. Many patients share their own recollections of having a dog or other pet at some point during their lives. I’ve experienced such stories from people who otherwise have barely spoken for extended time periods. They appear more alive or seem to feel better while recalling fond memories of their personal pets.

I get satisfaction knowing that Cardiff's cuteness makes a difference in the lives of others.  Additionally, I get to share his tale of overcoming illness with people that may need some inspiration to continue to wage their own emotional and physical health battles.  Cardiff's journey from sickness to heath, along with his canine perspective on  current events, useful products, doggy style, and travel, is also told through Cardiff’s blog.

Should Roberts ever need a hospital visit, Cardiff and I would love to make the trip from California to New York to spread some canine love.  We wish her our best and continued recovery from MDS and resolution of her cancer.

lev radin/

Image: lev radin's portfolio




Patrick Mahaney, VMD

Patrick Mahaney, VMD

Patrick Mahaney takes a close look at celebrities, their pets, and other hot-button pet parenting topics from a veterinary perspective. His path to becoming a veterinarian was not the pursuit of a childhood dream, but was rather a serendipitous migration from his original plan, which was to pursue a career in marine biology or fine arts. To satisfy his creative urges, Dr. Mahaney writes a pet health column, guest blogs for Perez Hilton's, and created (CPN), which puts a veterinary spin on issues pertaining to celebrities, their pets, and public health.

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