Five months after a bone-marrow transplant to treat a rare blood disorder, Robin Roberts resumed duties as co-anchor of ABC's Good Morning America Wednesday morning, saying "I have been waiting 174 days to say this: 'Good Morning America.' "
Roberts' return was billed as a very special edition of GMA, and it included a welcome back message from President Obama and wife Michelle, whom Roberts is scheduled to interview in the next few days: "Good morning America and welcome back Robin," Obama said.
"Robin," Michelle Obama added, "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."
Leading the on-set welcome-back party was co-anchor George Stephanopoulos, who greeted her with, "Hello Robin. The froggy slippers are off and she's back in Times Square five months to the day from her bone-marrow transplant. Her doctors giving her the thumbs-up, she's been getting into fighting shape, all of Team Robin here and across the country give a big welcome right now."
Other guests on set and via video ranged from Roberts' siblings, Sally-Ann and Dorothy, to former secretary of state Hilary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Kobe Bryant.
Roberts, looking fit, seemed thrilled to be back.
"I keep pinching myself and I realize this is real. This is actually happening, and I don't have my froggy slippers on, or do I?" she joked. "Faith, family and friends have brought me to this moment and I am so full of gratitude. There are so many people I want to thank throughout the morning, my doctors and nurses and family and colleagues and people who have sat in this chair and those who have blazed the trail before me.
"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."
The words on Roberts' multicolored prayer bracelet - "light, love, power, presence" - were a connecting theme through the morning, and her recovery journey was a highlight of the broadcast. Her fight to regain her health with the help of a yoga instructor and her transplant team had been documented and filmed over the past five months.
"When you go through something like this you can be either fearful or fearless and I chose to be the latter," Roberts is seen saying in film clips of her recovery process. (ABC will air a 20/20 special on her recovery process, Friday at 10 ET/PT.)
Roberts' physicians, Sergio Giralt and Gail Roboz, were interviewed on GMA by Stephanopoulos, who asked how they knew Roberts was ready to come back to work.
"Today is a dress rehearsal, it's her first show, and we'll see how she feels tomorrow," Giralt said, adding that he would assess her condition after the show.
Roberts said she'll be "listening" to her body as well, making sure that she recognizes what it tries to tell her about how she feels as her recovery moves forward. "Part of the reason I have been able to recover as I have, so well," she said, is because she was in relatively good health before her diagnosis.
Asked by Stephanapoulus about the next milestones in Roberts' recovery, Roboz said, "Time passing is a good thing. As the weeks and months go by and feel more normal and there are no medications and there are fewer blood tests and fewer appointments, things start feeling better, but we are going to be on your case. I've said it before, I don't care who the interview is with, if you're not well enough to go, you're not going."
"That's what I want to hear," Roberts said.
By Carol Memmott