9:57am PT by Michael O'Connell
Robin Roberts Announces Early Departure From 'Good Morning America'
After a month spent mostly away from the air for Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, the co-host said during Thursday's broadcast that she'd be leaving the ABC series a day before her previously announced medical leave was scheduled to begin.
Roberts, who is to undergo a bone marrow transplant to treat her recently diagnosed myelodisplastic syndrome (a rare form of leukemia), did not leave to start treatment, though. She said she wanted to be with her family.
"Our beloved mother, the matriarch of our family, 88-years-old, has had some health issues recently and it's got to the point that Sally-Ann and I need to get home so I'm leaving a day early," Roberts said. Sally-Ann, Roberts' sister, is also her bone marrow donor.
Her undisclosed recovery time will see a variety of personalities guest-hosting alongside GMA anchors Josh Elliott, Sam Champion, George Stephanopoulos and Lara Spencer. Among those Roberts says will "keep her seat warm" are ABC News personalities Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Barbara Walters and Elizabeth Vargas.
Additionally, Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Ripa, Chris Rock and the cast of Modern Family will also take turns in her seat while she is away.
Roberts received a teary tribute and words of support from her colleagues before she signed off and left for a scheduled flight down to Mississippi to be with her mother.
"I will be back, you know," she said. "This is just see you later. See you soon. I will get back as fast as I can."