Sheryl Crow Helps Kick Off Breast Cancer Awareness Month

[Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]

A couple months back, I reported on Sheryl Crow's inspirational appearance at the #Blogher16 Conference where she talked about her experience with breast cancer. I received a lot of emails from those who were inspired by the article and Sheryl Crow. Luckily, I was able to personally speak to Crow on Monday morning as Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicked off.

On Betty Ford

"Before Betty Ford, nobody spoke about breast cancer. She's the first person who made it a public conversation. I don't think that it's taboo anymore, but I think there is still a lot of fear around it. Women dread getting a mammogram. They put it off."

Sheryl Crow's Main Message

"First and foremost, my message is always to be diligent from the age of 40 by getting a yearly mammogram. Since I have been diagnosed, the technology has advanced. One of the most important changes is being able to have a 3D mammogram (see Genius 3D Mammography site). This gives us the ability to diagnose cancer up to 15 months earlier."

"There are a lot of opportunities for women who aren't insured. For instance, I work with Pink Lotus in Los Angeles, and other institutions have a foundation that works in conjunction with them."

Game-Changing Diagnosis

"Anybody who tells you they were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness will tell you it's terrifying and a real game changer. Even though I knew I wasn't likely going to die, it was still terrifying. Your mortality is looking at you in the face. For somebody like me who was fit, very healthy, and ate pretty well, it was basically a bullhorn thing. You cannot control everything. It redefined my life, and I started treating myself differently. I learned how to take care of myself first."

Sheryl Crow's breast cancer diagnoses changed her life. [Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]

The Physical Aspect of Treatment

"Back to Betty Ford, it wasn't so long ago that when you were diagnosed with breast cancer, you had a mastectomy and chemo. It was a very harsh treatment. I had a lumpectomy and radiation - the only side effects were fatigue. About halfway through, I started feeling really tired, and it continued on for the next couple of months. This is one of the reasons I am adamant about encouraging women to visit to find their closest 3D mammogram because it can mean the difference in the type of treatment."

Advice to Recently Diagnosed Women

"I would tell anyone that no matter what their situation is, they need to try and keep things as normal as possible. They need to try and keep doing the things that make them feel they are still leading a normal life."

"I always encourage women to take notice of the lesson that goes along with their diagnoses and learn to take care of themselves by expressing what they need. If that means saying no and putting themselves before everyone else, then that's one way to help get through it."

Being Defined by Her Cancer

"I don't think anyone defined me by it, but I would certainly say that my name is rarely mentioned without the mention of Grammys and being a breast cancer survivor. And that's fine -- it was a huge part of my life and a game changer. It dictated many of the decisions I have made in my life since then. I don't consider it a label; it's just part of who I am."

Her Future

"I just completed two records. One is very collaborative. I reached out to people I have a relationship with and who have been inspirations to me throughout my career and when I was young -- people like Stevie Nicks, Neil Young, Keith Richards and Willie Nelson. It was an experience of sheer joy."

"The other one that I completed a couple weeks ago was a quick process. I worked with Jeff Trott, my old songwriting buddy, and we went in, recorded a bunch of songs, and it was really fun. I don't know which one will come out first. For those who loved the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th records, Jeff and I have gone back to our old way of making records."

Sheryl says fans should start hearing her new music before Christmas, and one of the albums will be out early next year (she's not sure which one yet). Sheryl will also be putting out a petition for people to sign after the election in order to eliminate the campaign season to six months like other countries do. Crow, like many others, is tired of two years of bitter and toxic dialogue that people are exposed to.