CTV’s Sandie Rinaldo reflects on her journey with cancer

On May 6th I celebrated 50 years with CTV – yes 50!

At this milestone, I reflect on my experiences at CTV News and the parts of my life that have been public and the things about myself that I have kept private over the years.

With time, there is safety in revealing the most personal aspects of myself, so I’ll share with you my own cancer journey that really began with my husband.

Michael died in 2005 after a six-month battle with cancer. After that, I read the book The Year of Magical Thinking by journalist Joan Didion over and over again. It is a brilliant account of Didion’s first year after her husband’s death. She explains her grieving process and how she believed in the days and months that followed that if a person hopes enough for something or keeps doing the right thing, bad events can be reversed. Didion writes about keeping her husband’s shoes just in case he comes back and needs them.

I have done the same. It wasn’t until I was ready to move on that I was able to donate Michael’s shoes to a men’s home.

And then, without warning, two years after his death, I was thrown back into coping.

A yearly mammogram showed a small lump on my right breast, unnoticed to the touch or to the naked eye. I was 57 years old.


I remember the day like it was yesterday. A call from the hospital for a second scan; the concerned faces of the technician, the radiologist and the subsequent biopsy. I went home with a patch on my chest to await the results.

A call from the doctor the next morning confirmed that I had breast cancer.

My biggest fear was sharing the news with my three daughters who missed their father.

I knew they would go to that dark place; lose me too

Let me tell you how difficult it is to focus on being optimistic when the universe is weighing you down. I had seen far too much death; a son when I was in my 30s; my mother in my 40s; and then at 55 my partner of 35 years.

I knew I had to find the power for my girls and somehow I did.

I turned to music and dance to calm and center myself; and I spent time with those who made me laugh.

But I focused on something far more important; my daughters. They inspired me to prepare for what was to come.

I wanted to be there and watch them grow into the beautiful women they are today; to find love, have babies and build a life for yourself. I couldn’t leave her.


Surgery, a lumpectomy, was supposed to remove the tumor. A biopsy ten days later showed it was small, hormone-driven, and probably hadn’t spread.

It had been caught early which made me one of the lucky ones.

Treatment involved weeks of radiation; but I withdrew from the chemotherapy safety net after consulting my oncologist and having a test to determine the likelihood of the cancer returning.

It’s a decision my doctor told me could be the wrong one if I let the fear of relapse rule my life. She suggested that I should do my best to avoid stress and focus on building tools to build my resilience.

Ten years of the hormone pill tamoxifen followed; and here we are, sixteen years after diagnosis.

Several of my colleagues have also had breast cancer or are currently being treated. Many, if not most, have chosen to go public.

I kept my cancer a secret from viewers at the time, mostly because I was a busy single mother of three daughters. I also worried that my aging and widowed father would be heartbroken by the news. He had survived World War II, suffered casualties, but watching his only child fight cancer would have been too much for him.

He’s gone now; and as time goes on, I’m willing to reveal personal aspects of my life that have never before been shared publicly as part of a CTV news special celebrating my 50th year with the network called “I Am Sandie Rinaldo.”

The Canadian Cancer Society says the five-year survival rate for all cancers, based on the most recent data collected, was 64 percent, compared with 55 percent in the early 1990s and 25 percent in the 1940s; Advances in early detection and advances in treatment.

When we were growing up, we couldn’t say the C-word. It was like saying it out loud made it real. Well, for the one in eight women who will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, it is a reality, as it is for anyone who has lost a loved one to the disease.

Cancer is an important part of my story and I hope it will help others to share it now, even after all these years, as they face their own journey. You’re not alone.

  • In the hour-long special I’M SANDIE RINALDO, the longtime CTV host explores her family history and traces her roots across Canada and around the world, airing Friday, May 12 on CTV, CTV News Channel, CTV.ca , CTVNews.ca, and the CTV and CTV News apps


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