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Robin Roberts: Making Your Mess Your Message

How Robin Roberts used a chapter in her life to inspire others

By April Roh

I never liked watching the news as a kid. I remember skipping through every news channel because it never seemed to be interesting enough to watch. The first time I saw Robin Roberts changed everything for me. She was full of charisma, poise and grace. Little did I know that behind all of the cameras, she was a warrior who overcame numerous obstacles. The diagnosis, treatment and survival of cancer is a rollercoaster, especially with the potential of additional complications. Robin Roberts, a former sportscaster turned co-anchor for Good Morning America, is who I see when I think of a fighter. She is known for her saying, “make your mess your message.” Everyone has something going on in their lives that can be used to help others. As ESPN’s first black female anchor for SportsCenter, she paved the way for black women all around the world in the media. After her experience, she uses her life story to help others.

Fight against cancer

Throughout her journey, Roberts has been outspoken about her struggles and her successes.

In a 2007 interview, Roberts explained that early detection of breast cancer in black women is vital. She found a lump after a self-examination, and this turned out to be cancerous. The following year, after enduring eight extensive chemotherapy treatments, it was revealed that she had myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder. Roberts later posted a message on ABC’s website explaining her diagnosis. After receiving a transplant from her sister, helping others became Roberts’ top priority. Of course, her journey was difficult: the physical changes of having cancer, the mental struggles and the unbearable pain. However, Roberts understood the power she held as a journalist and used it wisely. Her use of the media to share her journey transformed the national conversation about breast cancer.

Using her platform to spread awareness

Roberts speaks at the 2018 Extraordinary Healer event.

Roberts’ use of her platform to publicly discuss her trials and tribulations with cancer inspired people across the nation. Her strength, courage and perseverance made her an inspiration and role model to women around the world. Roberts worked with WebMD and spoke at conferences and events to spread the word about early detection, how to get the support you need and how to persevere through it. Roberts was also awarded the Peabody Award— one of the most esteemed awards in the media industry— for using her journey to service others through her platform. The Robin Roberts Cancer Thrivership Fund was organized to support cancer research and provide advice and resources to help survivors turn into thrivers. The number of people inspired and uplifted from Roberts’ story is limitless, and she continues to inspire people to this day.

Inclusivity and authenticity

Roberts uses journalism to put her experiences and the experiences of countless others at the center of her storytelling. As a black woman, she uses her experiences to encourage other black women to follow their hearts and not to give up. After coming out as gay, Roberts responded to the mixed reactions with, “I don’t care – you gotta live your life.” She inspires people in more than one way to be their authentic self. She demonstrates her authenticity no matter where she is, whether it bein the newsroom or her personal life.

I admire Robin Roberts because of her determination and strength. The way she continues to move the hearts of Americans with her reporting, storytelling and confidence is an example of traits that I strive to embody. At her core, Roberts is a fearless journalist. She is not afraid to be herself and change lives along the way. I hope someday, I will be able to follow in her footsteps and impact lives.


About the Author April Roh is a PR professional and researcher. April is studying at the University of North Texas in public relations and sociology. She is expected to graduate in May of 2021.

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