‘Fight on,’ ailing anchorman Rob Stafford tells friends

Rob Stafford

Veteran Chicago news anchor Rob Stafford, who’s been on leave from WMAQ-Channel 5 since March while battling a rare blood disease, said he hopes to return to the NBC-owned station at the end of August.

In a message posted on his Facebook page Thursday, Stafford thanked well-wishers for their “support and prayers” during his ordeal. “My friends at NBC have had my back every step of the way,” he wrote.

Accompanying the message was a selfie of a bearded Stafford standing outside Rush University Medical Center on the Near West Side, where he said he will begin followup chemotherapy Friday.

Stafford, 58, spent several weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he underwent a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy for amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder that affected his kidneys.

“We are making progress but need more treatment,” he wrote Thursday.

A New Hampshire native and graduate of Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Stafford began his career in Duluth, Minnesota, and later worked for stations in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Orlando, Florida, before joining CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 in 1992. He was hired as a Chicago-based correspondent for the NBC News magazine “Dateline” in 1996.

Since 2007 Stafford has been an anchor and reporter for NBC 5. He was promoted to main co-anchor with Allison Rosati in 2009. He also serves on the station’s investigative reporting team.

During Stafford’s absence, weekend news anchor Dick Johnson has been filling in alongside Rosati on the station’s 5, 6 and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts.

Here is the text of Stafford’s Facebook post:

Good morning friends. My test results are in. We are making progress but need more treatment. I will undergo follow-up chemo through Rush in Chicago . . .  a milder form that should allow me to get back to work at the end of August.

My wife Lisa and I can’t thank you enough for your support and prayers. My friends at NBC have had my back every step of the way.

Dick Johnson is the hardest working man in TV. Thanks for covering for me DJ!

First treatment tomorrow.

Fight on.