Robin Roberts got a presidential welcome on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, February 20, after being absent from the show for 174 days to undergo a bone marrow transplant, and also received shout-outs from Oscar-nominated celebrities and The Muppets.
The 52-year-year-old has been battling myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood and bone disorder. She has also undergone chemotherapy -- a treatment she was also given for breast cancer in 2007. Her recovery has been chronicled on the series, where she has served as co-anchor for more than seven years.
"Good Morning America and welcome back, Robin," President Barack Obama said in a videotaped message, sitting alongside First Lady Michelle Obama, who was dressed in a pink, green, white and brown floral top.
"Robin, we just want you to know that the whole Obama family -- we've been thinking about you and praying for you and rooting for you every step of the way," his wife said.
"You've been an inspiration to all of us and we couldn't be happier that you're back here, doing what you do best," the U.S. leader continued. "So Robin, it's great to see you back in that chair and we're all excited to start our morning with you once again."
The first lady also said she is personally looking forward to a scheduled interview with Roberts that is set to take place later this week.
The president and first lady also sent Roberts a Christmas greeting in December, via an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters. The U.S. leader called Roberts "such a wonderful person, somebody that we've come to really love."
Roberts' return was announced on February 7. In addition to the Obamas, other celebrities have recorded videotaped messages for her on "GMA" over the past few weeks.
The list includes the likes of Josh Groban, current Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper, Denzel Washington and Quvenzhane Wallis, singer Mary J. Blige, ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, Tim Gunn, Chris Harrison -- host of ABC's "The Bachelor and The Muppets, Mickey and Minnie Mouse and other Disney park characters.
"Good for you! Good to see you back!" Gonzo of "The Muppets" says in one clip.
"Where was she?" Pepe the King Prawn asked.
"Day of celebration"
Sitting on the "GMA" anchors' desk at the show's studio in New York City, with colleagues George Stephanopoulos -- her co-anchor, Sam Champion, Lara Spencer and Josh Elliot, who put his hands on her shoulders, Roberts said: "Hi, it's Robin and I had been waiting 174 days to say this: 'Good morning, America!'"
" I had to tell you, I keep pinching myself," she said. "And I realized that this is real. This is actually happening. And I don't have my froggy slippers on ? or do I? But faith, family and friends have brought me to this moment and I'm so full of gratitude."
Roberts sister Sally Ann, who had donated her bone marrow, and two of her doctors -- Gail Roboz and Sergio Giralt, also appeared on the show, as did seven of her nurses, some of whom were dressed in stylist dresses.
"There's so many people that I want to thank through the morning -- my doctors and nurses and family and colleagues and people who've sat in this chair and those who have blazed a trail before me," Roberts said. "As my mother said, 'We all have something' and everyone's story has purpose and meaning and value and I share this morning, this day of celebration with everyone."
Roberts' mother Lucimarian passed away at age 88 in August. The "GMA" anchor had begun her medical leave a day early to travel to Mississippi to be with her in her final moments.
It was announced last week that in addition to her "GMA" return, Roberts will also appear on ABC's pre-Oscars red carpet show on Oscar Sunday on February 24. (See more details about ABC's and OTRC.com's pre-Oscars shows)
Roboz, her oncologist, said Roberts did not "strong-arm" her doctors into returning to her job.
"We didn't exactly have in mind an interview with Mrs. Obama and the Oscars for this weekend as an easy start, I will confess, that was not right up there for what we had in mind for easing back in. But Dr. Geralt and I are learning to cope and we're hopeful that this strength that you're showing right now is just going to keep on going."
"I will be listening to them, be going back every couple of weeks," Roberts said. "We have another bone marrow test in two weeks. But just really listening to my body and that's what's so important for everyone."
"Today" show gift
Roberts, standing alongside her colleagues and top ABC executives, was also presented with a giant red velvet five-tier cake with pink, teal, fluorescent green, yellow and orange fondant decorations and figures of people holding signs, as well as large letters reading: "Welcome home Robin." Sitting on either side were bouquets of multicolored roses
She also received a gift basket from NBC's "Today" show -- the ABC program's biggest competitor -- and the series also made a donation to the Be The Match organization, which connects patients needing bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplants with matching donors.
"Oh, that's wonderful!," Roberts said. "We're bring everybody together! We're bring morning TV together!"
(NOTE: OTRC.com, parent company KABC Television and the ABC Television Network are owned by the Walt Disney Company.
Watch clips from Robin Roberts' "GMA" return, including a special greeting from President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.