Dallas woman's fight against cancer aligns with ABC's Roberts

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 5:48 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 20 at 8:54 PM

DALLAS – ABC's Robin Roberts retook her seat on Good Morning American Wednesday with tears and cheers, just five months after her bone marrow transplant.

 "No, I couldn't do it," said 59-year old Brenda Coplin in Dallas. "I admire her that she can do that.  Every once in a while I think, why don't I feel like that?  But I'll get there."

Coplin was diagnosed with breast cancer about the same time as Roberts. While Roberts developed a chemotherapy side-effect known as MDS, Coplin developed leukemia. They were both reborn with bone marrow transplants on the very same day.   

But Coplin's journey has been different than Roberts'. She is back in the hospital with a flu-like virus. A few months back, she almost died from Ecoli and has had serious side effects from the medicines her doctors have prescribed.

That's more normal for a bone marrow transplant, says Medical City Dallas oncologist Dr. Vikas Bhushan.

"This can go on for two, three years in some patients," said Dr. Bhushan. "Six months after a donor transplant would be very atypical (to return to work). In fact, most of our patients, even if they're doing very well, we tell them to keep away from work or a crowd, things like that. Especially in the flu season."

Both Coplin and Roberts have immune systems that are just five-months-old. And while Brenda may not be ready to return to work, she is working to stay strong.

"I'll be right behind her," says Coplin, "I don't give up."

Robin Roberts received her bone marrow from her sister. Relatives generally make for easier transplants. Coplin got her marrow from umbilical cord blood from an anonymous match. Doctors say both women have a good prognosis for a full recovery.

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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