Robin Roberts Turns a ‘Mess Into a Message’

Her triumph over cancer isn't the only reason the GMA star is one of the most loved hosts on TV.

Robin Roberts (Heidi Gutman/Getty Images Entertainment)
Robin Roberts (Heidi Gutman/Getty Images Entertainment)

In lieu of hugs and handshakes on Thursday, Roberts gave each of the hosts of The View an “elbow bump” because MDS weakens the immune system. But other than that visible precaution and her new chemo-induced hairstyle, Roberts was especially radiant and all smiles as usual, turning her “mess into a message” as her late mother taught her. Still, there was one moment during Roberts’ two-segment interview on the couch that brought a lump to everyone’s throat.

Goldberg asked, “Did it ever occur to you not to come back?” And the woman who seemed invincible even as she shared her most trying moments with the entire world finally teared up.

“I didn’t know if I could come back,” explained Roberts. “It’s not that I didn’t want to. But I didn’t know if I could. But I have to tell you, God is good all the time; all the time God is good.”

It’s that unwavering optimism that makes Roberts so undeniably American and therefore unanimously popular. Like that song says, she is titanium, as strong as steel but so much lighter. She is the kind of person whose very existence strangers take pride in.

And even still, with all the outpouring of support, Roberts confessed to initially feeling a bit skittish about the whole celebration on GMA, which included congratulations from the Obamas, Mary J. Blige, Hillary Clinton and Denzel Washington, along with a 125-pound red velvet cake. She also joked on The View that the network even considered a ticker tape parade.

“When you strut, you stumble,” she said, quoting her late mother. But in the end, an admittedly very grateful Roberts took her sister Sally-Ann’s advice: “Just let ’em love you.”

Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.