The popular Today show weatherman discusses his health issues and how his wife, ABC News senior national affairs writer Deborah Roberts, helped him get through them.
Deborah Roberts, Al Roker’s 27-year wife, claims she is relishing their intimate moments now that he has recovered from a horrific health crisis that nearly claimed his life.
According to Roberts, an ABC News senior national affairs correspondent and contributing anchor for 20/20, the paperweight with the words “Learn to cherish the beauty of an ‘everyday day’ was a Christmas gift from someone. “And I believe we are learning to find beauty in the mundane.”
The weatherman for the Today show and his family have had an unusual few months.
Beginning in early November, when he was first diagnosed with blood clots that had migrated from his leg to his lungs, Roker spent about two weeks at a stretch in the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Roker, 68, was previously diagnosed with prostate cancer, among other health issues, in 2020. But Roberts was terrified since the most recent scare had placed him in danger of dying.
“I was genuinely bracing myself to have a conversation with the kids about the possibility of losing their father,” Roberts, 62, says of his previous marriage’s daughter Courtney, 35, and son Nick, 20.
“I’m blessed to be alive,” Roker continues.
His difficulties began when Roker awoke in the middle of the night with severe stomach aches in early November. Dr. Jahangir Rahman, his long-time internist, examined and ran a battery of tests on him.
He was immediately admitted to the hospital when scans revealed that he had blood clots in his lungs that had originated in his leg.
“It was terrifying,” Roberts says. Even more terrifying was the medical specialists’ finding of internal bleeding in Roker’s stomach.
Despite rigorous testing, CT scans, and MRIs, doctors could not determine the origin of the bleeding.
“In the first week, we had a parade of different experts,” says his gastroenterologist Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman, Director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“So many different things were happening [with him],” she claims.
In addition to being there for him, supporting him, and ensuring he was comfortable. He had everything he needed; Roberts worked diligently as Roker’s spokesperson with the medical team so he could relax.
“I felt like all I could do was sort of be his voice and fight for him,” she adds.
She claims that her job was to assist him in getting through it. “It was difficult. It’s unpleasant to see someone you care about in this state of fatigue. He was exhausted.”
Roker was released from the hospital after nearly two weeks on the condition that he visit his internist the next morning and maintain regular touch with his healthcare providers.
A Difficult, Seven-Hour Operation
Roker was sent back to the hospital the day after Thanksgiving because he was dizzy. According to Schnoll-Sussman, the physicians decided to operate since he was experiencing new bleeding symptoms.
One of Roker’s most horrifying moments happened right before his surgery. “‘All right, here we go,’ you think. “I’m sure I’ll run into everyone [later],” he says.
Roberts and the kids were in agony as they awaited word on how the nearly 7-hour surgery went.
“I would go home and cry,” she admits, keeping her cool in front of Roker. “I was expecting the worst.”
A Consistently Positive Patient
Even Roberts, who is used to Roker’s optimism, was taken aback by how positive he remained throughout his ordeal.
“I’m just staring at his monitor, praying that his heart rate will stay strong, and his blood count will be excellent, and all of the stuff immediately after the operation,” Roberts says. Then, referring to a New York Times recipe, he proclaims, “I’m going to make this turkey for Christmas.”
“That’s when I knew he was going to be okay,” she said. “ That motivated his unshakable spirit and fierce will. That was wonderful to see in him. That, I suppose, is what most impressed me.”
“It was a lovely thing to see you endure being a pin cushion, with the vampires coming for you every couple of hours to get more blood and all of that,” she says, turning to Roker and grasping his hand in the Today show green room. Everyone else would have said something like, “You know what? I’m finished. I’m out.’ “
“I wouldn’t be here without you,” Roker says softly, turning to face Roberts.
He says you might live to rue it in a typical Roker way.
Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, Jenna Bush, and numerous other staff members and crew members visited Roker at his Manhattan brownstone after he was released on December 9 and sang Christmas carols to him.
One of Roker’s favorite times of the year, Christmas, was one of the best treatments he could have ever received, claims Roberts.
She recalls, “I could sense the strength coming back.” “I saw the blood returning to his face.”
“He needed that boost of rejuvenation, which is around the family provided. Nick, Leila, and Courtney were present. He ran into his recently arrived sister. His brother frequently visited us here. I believe I just caught him breathing out.
Roker said of his future perspective, “It’s all good now.”