‘General Hospital’: John J. York Teases Mac’s Return & Thanks Fans for Support After Cancer Diagnosis

Josh Kelly and John J. York on 'General Hospital'
Disney/Bahareh Ritter

John J. York will make his General Hospital return as Mac Scorpio on Wednesday, June 19, after treatment for cancer sidelined him in September 2023. The popular actor was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes — MDS — and multiple smoldering myeloma, two blood and bone marrow disorders, in 2022. After registering with NMPD [formerly the National Marrow Donor Program and bethematch.org], an exact match was found and York received a blood stem cell transplant seven months ago. He’s now back filming at the soap and ready for the drama to be in Port Charles, not his real life.

“This whole experience has been very emotional, very uplifting and very positive,” York tells TV Insider. “I haven’t had one negative experience except for some bumps in the road in terms of side effects or things dealing with the transplant over the last few months. But everybody has just been incredible.”

The actor’s journey began in October 2022 when a hematologist York was seeing to treat his ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease did a deeper dive into his routine blood test results, which revealed he had cancer. At the time, the actor and his wife were planning a move to Tennessee to be closer to his daughter Schyler and son-in-law Michael. “We were moving the very next weekend and we were shocked by the information because I felt great,” York recalls. “I didn’t want to tell my daughter until we saw her, so I was holding off for a few nights, but I told my wife, ‘I can’t not tell Schyler.’ So we talked one morning and I was explaining that I was going to do my treatments in California and fly back and forth, not really understanding the whole process of what I was about to face. My son-in-law said, ‘No, you’re not. You’re gonna do it here at Vanderbilt. It’s one of the top university cancer treatment centers in the world. Plus,’ — this is where I get emotional — ‘you’ll have your family to support you. The grandkids are here, everybody’s here, everything’s here,’ and he was right.”

Kirsten Storms, Kristina Wagner, and John J. York on 'General Hospital

Disney/Bahareh Ritter

York started chemo the following March. “It was once a month for seven days in a row, and then I was allowed to go work,” he explains. “Frank Valentini, our executive producer, has been unbelievable in his support and help throughout this whole process. I explained to him what was going on and he said, ‘What can I do?’ So there were about 10 or 12 days a month I could work and I would fly to California to work, fly back, do my cancer treatment, then fly back to California. And we did that once a month every month through October.”

That September, York learned an exact donor match was found and he had the blood stem cell transplant in November 2023, followed by 100 days of isolation. York says he’s encouraged by the success of the procedure. “They keep checking the donor versus host, me being the host, the cells and what’s transferring and what’s taking,” he says. “I’m pretty close to being exactly where I want to be.”

He’s hoping to someday meet his donor. “I know that it’s a 20-year-old male in the United States,” notes York. “After a year is when the NMDP, I believe, would facilitate the meeting, but of course, he would have to give his permission. I would definitely like to meet him and say, ‘Hello and thank you so much for the courage of being a donor and saving someone’s life.’ Just the fact that he’s an exact match to me is unbelievable. It’s a miracle.”

York’s outlook is positive as he looks to the future. “With the MDS, if everything goes well with the bone marrow transplant, that should be handled,” he shares. “With the multiple smoldering myeloma, smoldering being the key word, it just kind of stays there in my system. There is a small chance that it could turn into full-blown leukemia at some point, but the goal is for me to die of old age before I die of any kind of blood cancer. I feel fantastic and all the blood tests that I take once a month have all pointed in the direction that things are all going in the right direction, which is really good.”

Though his focus was on getting well, York says GH was never far from his mind during treatment, and his cast mates showed love during his time away. “Jon Lindstrom [Kevin Collins] texted me every single day, ‘How do you feel?’ ” he relays. “I’m starting to cry. Kristina [Wagner, Felicia Scorpio] was the same. Jon sent videos of actors and crew people sending me their well wishes and love. But now that I’m back, I just want it to be another day at work.”

The actor returned to the set of the soap he first joined in 1991 in May and was greeted with open arms. “Everybody has been just amazing, very supportive, lots of hugs and kisses,” he shares. “A lot of the crew members that I don’t really talk to because they’re back in the shadows, were all coming up and giving me a hug and shaking my hand and saying, ‘Welcome back.’ ”

He is thankful to the legion of fans who voiced their support during his plight. “I love the fans of the show,” he declares. “Many of them, I don’t even necessarily call them fans. I call them ‘frans,’ because they’re friends and fans. Daytime is a very interesting and wonderful animal in that it creates relationships. The people have been incredibly supportive and I’ve been thankful for that since I walked on the set day one back in 1991. They’ve embraced my character and I wouldn’t be on the show without them, that’s for sure.”

York reveals that he will look a little different when he is first seen on screen. “My hair grew back nice,” he observes. “I was not sure how my hair would look because I was bald. Now it’s short, like a military cut.” As for what’s coming up with Mac, whose connection to biological son Cody (Josh Kelly) has yet to be fully explored, York teases, “Expect the you-know-what to hit the fan and let the dust come down and settle where it will, so get ready.”

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