Lucy van Oldenbarneveld returns to CBC Ottawa feeling 'relieved, grateful, excited'

Lucy van Oldenbarneveld is back on air tonight after spending 16 months successfully completing breast cancer treatment.

Host returns to CBC TV tonight at 6 p.m.

Lucy van Oldenbarneveld returns to the CBC Ottawa anchor desk on Nov. 2, 2016, after spending 16 months successfully completing breast cancer treatment. (CBC)

This is a pretty momentous day for me.

Today I am getting behind the news desk for the first time in 16 months. I haven't been on air since Monday, July 20, 2015.

So keeping my s**t together and getting through this first show without turning into a sobbing, quivering, emotional train wreck will be important. Tears and news delivery are never a good combination.

So how am I feeling about it all?


Getting back to work is exciting but some things are different now. Most noticeably, of course, is the new helmet of curly fuzz. You will recall, I used to have some pretty sweet hair.

Lucy's look during her cancer treatment. She now sports what she describes as a 'helmet of curly fuzz.' (CBC)
I also used to have more than 15 eyelashes combined. Hair and eyelashes have always been staples of being an anchor on TV.

My task now is to reinvent the "look," right? You with me?

That's part of the reason I've decided not to go with a wig. I wanted to embrace the new style. Even if that means looking a little "overly foreheaded" for now. But whatever.

It's all small potatoes. (For those women who do choose to wear wigs: You look awesome! Go for it!)

Gradual return

I've been on a gradual return to work for the past month and I am very lucky to have had that.

Being back on the Ottawa radar is something to get used to again. Schedules and timelines, talking and thinking is all very different from the protective cocoon I've been in.

It's all so hectic! Working!

Getting used to the pace of a busy newsroom again will take time.
Lucy van Oldenbarneveld shared her cancer story as part of a fundraising effort for a new Breast Health Centre. (CBC)

When I announced my diagnosis last July, I was gloriously inundated with emails, cards and messages of support. This made such a big difference in how I processed those early bombshells.

People wrote notes of encouragement and support and I heard from countless women who had gone through breast cancer themselves.

My favourite things to read were sentences like "I also had breast cancer ... 16 years ago,"  or  10 years ago, or FIVE. Sometimes 25!

The point is: they had breast cancer a long time ago. I'm hoping for this too, and reading about others' remission and longevity is comforting.

Lessons learned

It's been a long year and I am really looking forward to getting back to normal, but in the busy-ness of the daily grind I don't want to forget all of the important lessons this experience taught me.

Try to live with courage and compassion; try to make a difference in someone's life; and don't waste time.

Feeling so relieved to be done, grateful to be alive and excited about the future.

I have come to find some comfort in clichés.

Here's another one: Seize every day. That's now kind of a mission for me.

Now more than ever.


Lucy van Oldenbarneveld is the host of CBC Ottawa News.