How Whoopi Goldberg’s Illness Became a Near-Fatal Experience

When you look at the career of Whoopi Goldberg, its not hard to see how she became so beloved. Not only was she a great comedian who won a Grammy for her stand-up album; she also proved she was an accomplished actor. (She has an Oscar to prove it.)

Meanwhile, she’s simply a likable person, which explains how she’s done 1,500 episodes of The View without fans tiring of her. In fact, people say she is the glue that keeps Joy Behar and Meghan McCain from being at each other’s throats every day.

However, it’s been one month and counting since Whoopi has appeared on The View. As people continued worrying how long her illness would keep her away, she finally spoke to fans on Friday’s episode.

It turns out the sickness keeping her off TV was worse than anyone imagined. In fact, her life was at risk.

Whoopi: ‘I came very, very close to leaving the earth.’

While Behar mentioned in February that Whoopi was recovering from pneumonia, no one imagined it had been so serious. After all, Joy talked about her being “on the mend” and working her way back. She even said Whoopi was being “funny.”

But Whoopi herself let everyone know how grave her illness was. In her recorded message for the March 8 episode of The View, she described it as nearly fatal. “I had pneumonia in both lungs, and I was septic,” she said calmly, before speaking further about her symptoms.

Then she dropped a stunning line. “Yes, I came very, very close to leaving the earth.” she said. “The good news? I didn’t.” She then thanked all her supporters, fans, and well-wishers — including those who normally didn’t wish her well.

Whoopi’s sickness led to ‘sepsis.’

Whoopi Goldberg on Andy Cohen’s ‘What Happens Live’ | Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

While Whoopi did not say she had the flu, that is something that can lead to pneumonia in winter months. Becoming “septic” means losing the ability to keep fluids down while shortening the breath and making you feel exhausted for most of the day.

Clearly, this type of illness can threaten someone’s life. Whoopi counted herself among the lucky it didn’t takes hers. And that made her appreciate some of her least likely well-wishers even more.

“Even people who aren’t huge fans of mine have actually said nice things about me,” she quipped. “We all know that’s gonna change when I get back. But for right now, it’s brilliant.”

Fans (and critics) of The View both know the show could use her presence back. As happened after Barbara Walters left (more or less retired from) the show earlier this decade, the imbalance on the panel can show rather quickly.

Whoopi may not agree with much McCain says, but she’s been something of a mentor for the conservative co-host. (She reportedly put in a good word for McCain with producers because she was friends with her late father.)

With McCain having more than her share of bad moments in recent weeks, she may be happiest of all to see Whoopi back at the table. Here’s to hoping that coming back “soon” means within the next week or two.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!