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Longtime TV news anchor opens up about cancer journey in new book

'I wanted to encourage people to be tested, because I almost didn't go for my mammogram, which discovered an aggressive form of breast cancer in the early stages,' says Jayne Pritchard

Editor's note: Jayne Pritchard announced her retirement on Thursday evening's newscast. Her last day will be May 20.

Jayne Pritchard is familiar to many people in the area as one of CTV’s news anchors and her absence from television for several years did not go unnoticed.

Pritchard made a public statement about the reason why and disappeared from public view to take on the battle of her life: breast cancer.

It came as a complete surprise to the Barrie resident who had never been sick a day in her life.

She’s now telling her story, and her journey back to health, in an informative and personal book called Breast Cancer: After the Diagnosis — One Woman's Story of Overcoming Setbacks.

“I wanted to encourage people to be tested, because I almost didn't go for my mammogram, which discovered an aggressive form of breast cancer in the early stages,” Pritchard says of her reasons behind writing the book.

“I also wanted women to know they weren't alone going through (it) and I wanted people to be aware of what else existed to support their health," she says. 

Pritchard says she used a combination of western medicine, alternative and complementary medicine. She was aware of most of the therapies and learned more as she underwent them. Along the way, she became a registered nutritional counsellor and a reiki master.

She decided against chemotherapy. It was a four-year journey that encompassed seven surgeries, some delayed because of personal setbacks and others due to the pandemic.

Fully healthy now, Pritchard has also had her first clear mammogram.

Writing the book began in November 2019 and two years later, it was on Amazon, where it is selling well, much to Pritchard’s delight.

She returned to full-time work in the summer of 2020. Like most of her history with the television station, she continues to do a variety of tasks that range from standing in for weather anchor K.C. Colby to supporting other staff and participating in the various aspects that are required to bring the daily news to television and the website.

Pritchard sets up 12 stories a week, writes seven, co-ordinates with camera operators, transcribes scripts, and makes sure it’s right before it goes on air.

In addition, she writes and records the news for three local radio stations, located in Owen Sound, Midland and Orillia.

Of all of her roles at the station, though, two stand out over the years. Her favourite was as host of Good Company, a talk show that ran for close to a decade, featuring guests such as Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar, as well as interesting people from the local community, non-profit and charitable organizations, to help promote their activities. She chose all of the people who appeared on the show.

“The people I interviewed were a wide range and the things I learned helped shape me as a person," Pritchard says of the talk show. "And I was introduced to new-age thinking and new experiences.

“While on the desk anchoring, I took it as a special privilege to come into people’s homes in that way (because) you’re delivering information that people seek out every day. (It) really affects people’s lives, so I took that responsibility very seriously.”

Pritchard began her 40-year broadcasting career in Barrie. She moved here in 1982 with her then-husband and bought a hobby farm in Innisfil. Rather than commute to Toronto, she thought she’d see what was available in the Barrie area.

“I went everywhere, made appointments, left resumes, and had an interview at the station with the general manager, but nothing happened, so I ended up taking a job in Toronto,” says Pritchard.

She commuted for a few weeks until she got the call that revealed a daytime talk show host was leaving and the local station was interested in interviewing people for the position.

“I had no hopes of ever getting a job on television because I had no experience, no training. So when I came to do the interview. It was actually (with) Bob McIntyre, who at the time was manager of public affairs programming before he went on the air as our weather guy.

“He made me feel very relaxed. I was also relaxed because I didn’t think I would get the job,” she says with a laugh.

Pritchard was born in England and came to Canada at age 11 with her parents. Today, she is married to Rick Farley and the two have a blended family of adult children. Pritchard also has a granddaughter, who is seven years old.

Currently, they are living in Barrie and building a house in Tiny Township. They hope to move in the next couple of months. It is close to Penetanguishene Marina, where they keep a boat. Boating and gardening are among Pritchard’s favourite leisure activities.