Williams, 54, walked onto her studio stage Monday to a rousing standing ovation from the audience, looking emotional as she offered her familiar greeting: “How you doin’?’”
“I’m doing better now,” she said. “Let’s get started, because apparently, I’m a Hot Topic.”
She explained that she’d been off the air since the holidays due to her medical problems, including thyroid issues, and took more time to heal with her family: husband Kevin Hunter Sr. and son Kevin Jr.
“We were supposed to only be off for two weeks for Christmas vacation … I started to feel thyroid issues. They’re still adjusting my meds,” she said. “I’m the kind of patient, if I cough, I’m thinking, I’m dying … I can’t even tell you how many doctors I have. They pushed me in there, I get the MRIs and then I get the catscans. … You know, I’m 54, and not for nothing even though you feel 25, honey you know. …
“I have a plethora of doctors,” she added. “And I’m happy to tell you that I am doing swell. And then you know it’s not a big thing for Kevin and Kevin to come with me for doctor’s appointments. … So we were spending time as a family, the Hunters … and I just wanted to take some time for myself … you know I am my own best friend.”
Williams said she’s been exercising during her absence, too: “I’m at home and I’m taking my thyroid meds and I’m meditating. … I’m going to the gym seven days a week for two hours a day. Believe me you. I don’t know how this outfit is reading on TV, but mother has not gained a pound.”
She then launched into a critique of the health care system: “But you have to take care of yourself and one of the things that really does suck about our country is we don’t have proper medical care.”
Williams joke about her son, adding, “Young Kevin, he really doesn’t care about much of anything … you know, jerks at 18. So i was doing that, just taking care — take care of yourselves. I’m sorry it took me 40, almost 50 days. I’m sorry … but I have to say it’s not going to happen anymore, and I feel good.”
During her Hot Topics discussion of the Jussie Smollett scandal, she teared up while discussing he son again.
“I just really gotta focus on being mom,” she said. “When you see us doing stuff walking down the street or stuff … just leave me alone if I’m with my kid or my husband or my mom or my dad or my sister or my brother.”
“I’m all cried out, I swear, I can’t cry anymore,” she added, overwhelmed by her studio audience’s cheers.
Then, she turned to rumors that have been swirling about her marriage.
“I want to shout-out to my husband. I’m still wearing my ring,” she said. “Believe me you, when you’ve been with somebody for 28 years, married for 25 years … we know each other. He’s my best friend, he’s my lover. … I know what you’ve been seeing .. but hunty, let me show you who I fell in love with and who he fell in love with.”
A decades-old photo of the couple popped onto the screen, and the crowd went wild.
“I’m still very much in love with my husband and anyone who’s been married … you know.”
“Marriages have ebbs and flows, marriage isn’t easy. And don’t ask me about mine until you see this gone,” she added, gesturing to her wedding ring. “And it ain’t going anywhere, not in this lifetime.”
The host first took a leave of absence from The Wendy Williams Show on Dec. 6. The talk show host, who said she fractured her shoulder in December, was supposed to resume taping on Jan. 14. Her return was then pushed back to Jan. 21 before the show announced that she would be taking a “necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being.” (Williams has Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid.)
Before her return, Nick Cannon, who helped host the show during her absence, also shot down split rumors.
“We was tearing up and everything because she said something to me that was actually really powerful,” he said. “Because you know me and Wendy had a love-hate relationship over the years. But it’s nothing but love because I love my queen and when she said this — she said there can be negativity out there and she hears the things about people talking about her family unit and what’s going on and she was like, ‘You know what, we don’t want to bring that negative energy when you’re trying to heal.’ “
During Williams’ absence, the show continued to produce original episodes with a variety of hosts serving in her absence, such as Cannon, Michael Rappaport, and Jerry O’Connell.
The Wendy Williams Show airs weekdays (check local listings).
This story originally appeared on PEOPLE.com.