Linda Pellegrino, co-host of Channel 7's "AM/Buffalo," will return to the air Monday after a monthlong medical absence, a station executive confirmed.
Pellegrino, the longtime co-host of WKBW-TV's morning show, was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly two years ago. Since that time she has undergone a double mastectomy, the removal of her thyroid and, most recently, the correction of vocal cord paralysis.
"When I had my thyroid taken out last summer, unfortunately it paralyzed my right vocal cord," said Pellegrino, who is 57, during a phone interview. "Once we determined it was not going to improve – I wasn't happy the way I was breathing and speaking – I sought out a specialist to have it corrected."
The surgery, called medialization laryngoplasty, was held Sept. 26 in Rochester's Center for the Care of the Professional Voice. It involved the placement of an implant near her larynx.
"Instead of having a gap between my two vocal cords, they now vibrate and work again," Pellegrino said. "In the middle of the operation, the doctor actually woke me up so I could speak to him and he saw that it was working."
Pellegrino said her voice had never been the same after her thyroid was removed. More importantly, she was having difficulty breathing and drinking.
"My intonation wasn't right – it was very hard as a broadcaster – but the biggest problem is that when I drank liquids I had to consciously think as I swallowed," Pellegrino said.
Since her cancer diagnosis on Dec. 24, 2010, the co-host has shared her medical battles with the public. When she announced her diagnosis on the air, Pellegrino was flanked by two of her physicians. And when she received her first chemotherapy treatment in April 2011, it was taped and broadcast on "AM/Buffalo."
Through it all, Pellegrino has maintained her upbeat attitude.
"Every time something happens, I end up feeling lucky because it was corrected," she said. "I just count my blessings and keep on walking. I just want to get back to work and be grateful I have a voice again."