On Friday, August 5, I made a mistake I will regret for years: I was invited to take part in a roundtable interview with Sheryl Crow at the #Blogher16 conference in Los Angeles, but showed up at the wrong room. I was one of the first people in line at the main conference room, but this was for Sheryl's Q&A session that was attended by hundreds of conference attendees. When I realized I had made the mistake, I became instantly depressed since Crow has always been one of my favorite musical artists.
However, once Sheryl hit the stage, my disappointment was replaced with happiness and inspiration. Although I really wanted to see her speak about being a victim of misogyny in the music industry, Sheryl wasn't there to portray a victim; she was there to celebrate her tenth anniversary as a breast cancer survivor.
"I found out ten years ago, and I don't think about the fact I have breast cancer so much anymore, except when I am getting ready for my yearly mammography," Crow said. She indicated that there is so much more hope for breast cancer survivors these days, especially because of all the new advanced technology.
Some in the audience teared up as Crow explained that right before her diagnosis, she was the "picture perfect" version of healthy. She was riding her bicycle though the Alps in France and ate well. After she was diagnosed, Crow's life instantly changed and she never looked at things the same way she did before.
Crow then described her diagnosis in more detail.
"I was engaged. I was getting ready to get my LASIC [eye surgery] done. I got my routine mammography at the end of January, and the radiologist said that 'We see something suspect. Come back in six months.' So, my OBGYN called me and said, 'Why would anybody wait for six months?'"
When she walked into the office two days after her appointment, Crow knew what the diagnosis was by just looking at her doctor's eyes. The Grammy-winning musician was hysterical at the time, but still got her LASIC done. After her lumpectomy, Crow bought a farm in Tennessee and made that her new home. Her life basically started over.
"One of the things I'm grateful for is that I have an unbelievable fan base made up of a lot of women," Sheryl revealed, with huge cheers from the audience.
"There is a certain point where men see you play, and you're not 'cool' anymore because you're 54. And now the women are bringing their daughters, so I have an amazing outreach to women where I am still able to instill the idea that there is power and knowledge. And that power comes in knowing your family history," Crow continued, right before noting that as far as we are in our cancer research, there can be a genetic component that can make some women predisposed to breast cancer.
Crow told the audience that she believes that our environment, our food, and what we are exposed to can certainly play a part in our wellness. She then explained that women are built around being nourishers, and the last person they usually nourish is themselves. She was told by a radiologist that it is believed that if you get cancer on your left side (which she did), that means you put yourself at the very bottom, you never say "no" to anybody, and everything is about being "right" with everyone.
"I think that we really have to learn as women, that it is okay to be strong and feminine. It's okay to put on your own oxygen mask before you put on anybody else's. Make sure you are taking care of yourself," Crow said, reminding the audience that a woman can take care of herself while taking care of others.
Sheryl then talked about stress and how we make it worse by allowing it all in -- this affects our physical health as well. She said that it can be decreased by turning off the television and, especially, turning off the smartphone, especially when you are with your children. Like others, Crow believes you need to be with your children in a room not only physically, but emotionally as well.
"We didn't have a constant barrage of people's opinions telling you what you're supposed to think, how you're supposed to look, and how your supposed to act," Crow said to the audience, referring to the more simple times she grew up in.
After revealing that she is working on a new album with Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson and other artists, Crow told the audience that being an empowered woman means "seeking" what your soul wants and ignoring the constant barrage of people telling you what you are supposed to want and who you are supposed to be.
You didn't have to be a woman to be empowered by Crow's words. Though Crow's audience during this interview was mostly women, one could see men nodding their heads and clapping as well. Sheryl Crow isn't just a feminist, she is also a humanist who has used her past experiences - both positive and negative - to empower her audience with her music and activism.