Actor John J. York is doing his best to make the most of a serious health problem.
Just days ago, the longtime General Hospital star explained how last December he was diagnosed with two forms of cancer — myelodysplastic syndromes and multiple smoldering myeloma — which are both blood and bone marrow disorders.
In a new interview with PeopleYork revealed his journey from his cancer diagnosis to the heartbreaking moments when his wife and daughter were told, and the treatments he has undergone so far, all while maintaining a positive attitude through it all.
While dealing with the surprising health news, York has also tried to highlight his personal story to inspire others to consider donating bone marrow or blood stem cells.
York, 64, has managed to remain optimistic, partly due to his experience and familiarity with doctors and hospitals while battling ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease since he was 17.
As a result, he’s taking a sort of “been there, done that” approach to the current health situation.
Heath issues: John J. York, 64, told People about how he was diagnosed with two different forms of cancer and how he broke the news to his wife and daughter; seen in 2018 in Pasadena, California.
“It’s just something I have to take care of right now,” York told People of his mentality.
“I went through life with colonoscopies, medications, things like that, and always had to be under doctor’s care,” he admitted, before adding with great positivity, “and go through life. Everything is good.’
During periodic checkups for pre-existing conditions, his doctor kept a close eye on a spot that wouldn’t heal.
From then on he received mild chemotherapy in pill form. But in October 2022, his hematologist – a doctor specializing in blood disorders – suggested a bone marrow biopsy.
Then on December 9, 2022, York thought, “That can’t be good,” when his doctor asked him, “Is your wife available for a conference call?” Shortly afterwards he would be told that he had cancer.
It was time to call his wife of 37 years, Vicki, who he initially described as “a mess.” After the doctor’s brief explanation of the different cells and levels, Vicki interrupted and asked bluntly, “Does John have cancer?”
Once the confirmation was made, Manners became proactive and started asking all the questions on the conference call.
At the end of their conversation, York asked the doctor his only question: “Why do I feel so good?”
After talking about how exercise and diet keeps him in top shape, the doctor said ‘it’s because we got it early’, which was welcome news for the soap opera star.
They initially decided to wait to tell their daughter Skyler the news until their move to Tennessee was complete and he could do it in person. But after two sleepless nights, he changed his mind and had his wife call Skyler, and they informed her over the phone.
Open book: York, who has played Mac Scorpio on General Hospital since 1991, opened up about his journey since his cancer diagnosis in December 2022, in an interview with People
Opening: York explained that he realized something was wrong when his doctor asked if his 37-year-old wife Vicki Manners was available for a conference call when he shared the cancer diagnoses; the couple is seen in 1994
When explaining his chemotherapy treatments, York made it sound like the experience of someone “waiting for a table at a restaurant.”
“It’s something like an infusion for about 15 to 20 minutes for seven days in a row, and then 28 days after the first day of that infusion cycle. I had one in March, April, May, June, July, August, and now there’s another one coming in September.”
In recent days, York has moved up the donor priority list and believes they are close to finding a bone marrow donor for him.
“I’m excited about that,” he says. ‘Many of my relatives have tested. I believe the age range is approximately 18 to 40 to join the registry at bethematch.org/matchformac.”
Last week, the actor, who has played Mac Scorpio since 1991, updated fans and explained exactly what he’s going through and what awaits him with his treatments.
“I said I’d give you an update on why I’m taking a short break at General Hospital, and here it is,” he began in a close-up video as he looked into the camera. ‘So last Dec ’22 I was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS, and multiple smoldering myeloma – two blood and bone marrow disorders.’
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are classified as ‘a group of cancers in which immature blood cells in the bone marrow fail to mature or become healthy blood cells, according to the National Cancer Institute. The different types of MDS ‘are diagnosed based on certain changes in the blood cells and bone marrow.’
The N.C.I describes multiple smoldering myeloma as a “precancerous condition that changes certain proteins in the blood and/or increases plasma cells in the bone marrow, but does not cause symptoms of (myeloma) disease.”
York went on to explain the treatments he has undergone so far and what’s next for the plan he developed with his doctors.
“Over the past few months I’ve had three bone marrow biopsies, many chemo treatments, I have another in a few weeks, and I’m approaching a blood stem cell transplant,” the Chicago native revealed.
“Over the past few months I have had three bone marrow biopsies, many chemo treatments, I have another in a few weeks, and I am approaching a blood stem cell transplant,” York said.
The actor further revealed that he has been working with the organization Be The Match to find himself a potential donor on their registry.
He also made a point of asking people to consider donating bone marrow or blood stem cells to anyone in need.
‘If it is possible and you would consider becoming a donor you can join their register, not just for me but for thousands and thousands of other people who need a donor, go to bethematch.org/matchformac,’ he said.
Be The Match is a world leader in bone marrow transplantation, connecting patients with their donor match for a life-saving bone marrow or blood stem cell transplant.
Those interested in joining the Be the Match registry must be between the ages of 18 and 40.
York insisted that this isn’t the end of the road for himself or his character on General Hospital, after playing the role of Mac for 32 years, which translates to 647 episodes during his run on the show.
‘I just want to thank you for all the support over the years. This isn’t goodbye, this is just “See You Soon!” I’ll have to take a break for three, maybe four months, but I’ll be back.”
Update: York explained the treatments he’s undergone so far, and what’s next in the plan he’s worked out with his doctors, in a video he shared on X (formerly Twitter) last week
Treatments: York is currently looking for a bone marrow donor, as part of treatment for the blood disorder, through the organization Be The Match
‘I’ll be back’: Actor insisted he’d be back on General Hospital; he is depicted in a scene from 2010
He concluded the post: ‘Check out Be The Match; do what you can; and thank you for your patience and your time. Thank you for your prayers. I’ll keep you informed and talk to you again soon.’
York has tried to keep things simple when it comes to maintaining a positive attitude.
“My whole philosophy is one day at a time; whatever they want me to do,” York said of his daily mentality during the interview.
“Personally, I feel like it’s in God’s hands. God’s will be done. It’s going to be okay, one way or another,” he said. ‘I’m either going to survive or I’m not going to survive. And life goes on and everything works out for everyone… Let’s just take it one day at a time.”