"I didn't want life to continue to pass me by," Roberts says of returning to work after her bone marrow transplant

Credit: Jeff Lipsky/AARP The Magazine

Robin Roberts may have been born on Nov. 23, but that’s not her birthday anymore.

“I think of September 20, the date of my transplant, as my birthday more than my real birthday,” the Good Morning America co-host tells AARP of celebrating a big day in her battle against myelodysplastic syndrome.

“I don’t try to be like people who have had life-threatening illnesses and say, ‘Every day is a gift.’ But everything that happens from now on is lagniappe, as we say in the Gulf.”

In the April/May issue of AARP Magazine, Roberts – who has battled both breast cancer and MDS – relives her first day back at work after her 2012 bone marrow transplant.

“Just the emotion of seeing people who I know didn’t think they were going to see me again. Some people were, like, ‘Why were you in such a hurry to get back?’ It wasn’t about being back on TV. It was about being back in life,” Roberts says of returning to GMA in February 2013 after four months.

“I could’ve stayed longer in an isolated room, but I didn’t want life to continue to pass me by. I wanted to participate in life. ‘Put me in, Coach. I’m ready to play.’ ”

The April/May issue of AARP Magazine hits homes April 1.