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Women's Health

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Sheryl Crow Adds Healthy Living to Her Repertoire

After a traumatic year, the singer-songwriter is making music, raising a son, and learning the art of balance.

Sheryl Crow: breast cancer survivor

For Crow, the painful breakup with one of cancer’s leading advocates is forever linked to her own battle with the disease -- and to Wyatt’s adoption, which she began pursuing while undergoing radiation treatments.

“I’ve had maternal instincts since I was really young,” she says now. “But I had to let go of what I envisioned a family was supposed to look like. I always saw myself with the traditional husband and the kids and the dog, but letting go of all that created opportunity. The best thing I could do was to open that door.”

Before she could welcome baby Wyatt through that door, however, Crow had to heal, physically and emotionally. During the frenzied paparazzi aftermath of her split with Armstrong -- “When you’re most down, the tabloids are most interested,” she says ruefully -- she did her best to stay above the fray by lying low and following doctor’s orders.

First, there was the routine mammogram that revealed “suspect” calcifications in both of her breasts. A radiologist suggested she return for another mammogram in six months’ time to take a second look, but her ob/gyn urged immediate biopsies. “Thank goodness I listened to [my doctor],” Crow says, “because my cancer was caught in the earliest stages. I am the poster child for early detection.”

“Early detection saves lives,” says Eric Winer, MD, chief of the Division of Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Stage 1 breast cancer -- like Sheryl had -- is defined as a tumor less than or equal to 2 cm with negative [presence] in the lymph nodes, and it has a very, very good long-term prognosis because it’s been caught so early. Ninety-five percent of women with stage 1 will be alive in five years, and a great many are cancer-free. In fact, most are cured of their cancers.”

“I was told I had dense breasts,” Crow tells WebMD, a factor that has been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to Winer, who is also the chief scientific adviser for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and a leading expert on the disease. “We’re not exactly sure why there is a correlation, but there seems to be one. Breast density also makes it that much more difficult to find cancer on mammograms,” he says.

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