General Hospital star John J. York, known for his role as Mac Scorpio on the popular soap opera, has taken a courageous step in sharing his battle with a blood and bone marrow disorder. In an emotional interview with ET’s Nischelle Turner, York discussed his diagnosis, treatment journey, and the decision to use his platform to raise awareness for potential donors.
“I did want to keep it private. So when I was diagnosed back in December of 2022, I told [my wife] Vicki [Manners], ‘Oh, let’s just keep it close and go through the process. I don’t want to tell everybody. I don’t want everybody to fight,'” York revealed.
The 64-year-old actor began his treatment journey, including chemotherapy, with a dedicated team of doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt University. His chemotherapy regimen involved monthly treatments for seven days straight from March to August, with one more round scheduled to begin next week.
It wasn’t until recently that York connected with Be the Match, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping patients find a bone marrow or stem cell donor match. During a conversation with a Be the Match representative, he began to realize the potential of using his platform to make a difference.
“At one point she said, ‘You know, because a lot of people like to use their platform.’ But I understood, and then I kind of was putting two and two together,” York explained.
As he learned more about the organization’s mission and how he could help, York decided it was time to share his journey publicly. However, he initially hesitated, not wanting his colleagues at General Hospital to know about his condition. Only a select few within the show’s production team were informed to accommodate his treatment schedule.
About two to three weeks ago, York received the news that he had been placed on the priority list for a transplant. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of his active involvement with Be the Match.
Speaking about his decision to use his platform, York said, “I have goosebumps about that because it was, and I can’t even tell you the support. When that happened because I made that video, they wanted a video, and they wanted to add some things to it. I had no idea how people would respond to it. It’s been overwhelming to me and my family. So I’m glad I did it.”
He continued, “So if what I’m doing and just talking about it could possibly help someone out there, how many people within the age range could join the registry to help someone? It’s not a big deal. I guess you just do a swab and send it in the mail, and they store it, whatever they do.”
York encouraged everyone to visit Be the Match’s website to find information about the registration process and how to potentially become a donor, emphasizing that “just making yourself available is really what it’s all about.”
An emotional York also reflected on being on General Hospital for 31 years, “I went from waiting tables at the Cheesecake Factory to my wife being eight months pregnant. I started the show and three weeks later, my daughter was born, Skylar, and now she’s 32 and I have three amazing grandchildren. Elijah, Lucille and Emerson and another one due in November.”
York told ET that he’s more appreciative of these moments after all he’s experienced, “I like to pray. I pray every day in one of my prayers. There are a couple of lines, patience obtains all things and take one day at a time, one moment at a time. And that’s really what it is because we’re always looking to go beyond each moment. You know what’s happening next, what are we gonna do later, and what’s going on tomorrow. Just watch the kids run screaming, break things, or whatever they’re doing. They always have something to show me. And it’s just too much fun, you know, reading books and it’s just the best.”
Once York receives his transplant, he’s not sure what to expect. “Once the transplant happens, I’m going into unchartered waters now and I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I’ve always taken it one day at a time and let’s just see what happens one chemo at a time. I believe when the transplant starts I’m gonna actually have to be in some type of isolation for at least 90 days.”
York has starred as Mac Scorpio on General Hospital since originating the character in 1991. He first announced he’d be taking a hiatus from the series earlier this month.
York took to X (formerly Twitter) to explain what he’s been struggling with since late last year.
“Last December, of ’22, I was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, and [Smoldering Multiple Myeloma], two blood and bone marrow disorders,” he wrote. “Over the past many months, I’ve had three bone marrow biopsies, many chemo treatments — I have another one coming up in a couple of weeks — and I am closing in on a blood stem cell transplant.”
According to the National Cancer Institute, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a type of cancer “in which immature blood cells in the bone marrow do not mature or become healthy blood cells.”
Additionally, Smoldering Multiple Myeloma is a slow-growing form of multiple myeloma, which is a form of cancer that affects plasma cells, causing them to overproduce one type of antibody.
“I’ve been working with some wonderful people at Be the Match, I’ve been working with some wonderful people on their registry,” York said, before encouraging his fans to consider donating to the organization or joining the donor registry. “Not just for me for but for thousands and thousands of other people who are in need of a donor.”
“I just want to say thanks for all the support over the years,” York shared, explaining that this “isn’t goodbye,” but that he will “have to take a break for at least three, maybe four months.”
He added, “But I’ll be back!”