After more than a month away from The View, Whoopi Goldberg tearfully hugged her cohosts upon her surprise March 14 return to the set. “You think you can push through because you have a little cold; you think because you’ve healed before something crazy can’t happen. Well, it can,” says Whoopi, 63, who admits she felt real fear while battling double pneumonia and sepsis — a life threatening blood infection — this winter. “I came very, very close to leaving the Earth.

This brush with death helped Whoopi put her life in perspective. “It really shook her up. She’s not ready to go anywhere, so she’s determined to sleep more and do better,” says an insider to Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. The source adds that the changes Whoopi has made go beyond her physical well-being. “She’s made peace with some people and things from her past, too.”

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Being so ill for so long has made Whoopi more determined to work on behalf of other Americans who may not be able to afford the health care that saved her life. “Whoopi has always been grateful. She’s always wanted to be a force for change. Now her activism on behalf of those less fortunate will be at a higher pitch,” says the insider. “The only way it’s going to get better is if I begin,” adds Whoopi, “so this is my beginning.”

Whoopi Goldberg
The View

Before returning to The View, Whoopi thanked her fans and colleagues for keeping her in their prayers. “Thank you for all of your good wishes and all of the wonderful things that people have been saying,” she said. “Even people who are not huge fans of mine have actually said nice things about me. We all know that’s gonna change when I get back but, for right now, it’s brilliant. Thank you for everything.”

For more on Whoopi Goldberg, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter. for more exclusive news!