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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 continued...

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.

Sheryl Crow on breast cancer recovery

Crow’s breast cancer treatment consisted of minimally invasive surgery -- a lumpectomy, where a surgeon excises only the tumor and a clear margin around it, leaving the breast intact -- followed by a seven-week course of radiation. A post-treatment mammogram showed she was in remission and cancer-free. She remains so to this day.

The experience “woke me up,” she says. “I was no longer dulled out. … I think I was conscious before, but having cancer really opened my eyes.” After staring down her own mortality, Crow knew it was time to build the family she’d always wanted, and on her own terms.

In the wake of a broken heart and a recovering body, Crow “didn’t go out much. … I took care of myself, and I learned the only way to get through grief is to grieve, to experience those emotions. I would tell people when I needed space, if I needed them to run an errand for me. And I allowed myself to sleep as much as I wanted to, and to do absolutely nothing … and I let myself feel everything.”

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