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Sheryl Crow’s 2006 breast cancer diagnosis made her question ‘What did I do wrong?’


Sheryl Crow said being diagnosed with cancer in 2006 was a pivotal moment in her life that made her question what she had done to deserve it.

“I hold myself up to the standard of being a really good person, so to find myself lying on a radiation table facing my mortality, there are a lot of questions that go along with that: ‘What did I do wrong? Why do I deserve this?’” the 61-year-old, who was just inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, told People magazine recently. 

The diagnosis also happened at the same time her three-year relationship with cyclist Lance Armstrong ended in a broken engagement, which Crow has said felt like “death.” 

“It is like a death,” said told Diane Sawyer after the breakup. “And in many ways it’s like having part of your life amputated, but you still have that phantom itch, you know, where you wake up, and I’ll see something and think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to make sure Lance is hip to this band. I’ve got to put it on his iPod.’ And then I remember, ‘Oh, wait, you know, that’s not my life.'”

SHERYL CROW, ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE, SHARES KEY TO HER SUCCESSFUL CAREER: ‘MUSIC WAS A LIFELINE’ 

Sheryl Crow smiling

Sheryl Crow says she wrote “Make it Go Away” after her cancer went into remission in 2008. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Crow told People that she promised herself she would try to make sense of that difficult moment in her life, and she ended up writing 2008’s “Make it Go Away (Radiation Song).” 

“I made an oath that I wouldn’t bury the experience — I’d sit with it and really work my way through it,” she told the magazine, adding that the song felt “like a moment of closing the book on that chapter.”

She said, “It was sort of like, ‘OK, I’ve crossed the finish line, I’ve come out on the other side.’ It felt great and empowering” after she went into remission. 

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In 2013, Crow told Rolling Stone of Armstrong, “I don’t think about him. It’s a nuisance when I’m asked about him, because they weren’t the happiest of days. People still attach me to him, and it’s gross.”

Sheryl Crow with her sons

Sheryl Crow has two sons, Wyatt, 16, and Levi, 13. (Mike Coppola/WireImage)

Armstrong, 52, told author Josh Wilcockson in 2009 that their relationship broke up over her “biological clock” because she was in her mid-40s and wanted children, and he did not want any more at that point, according to the New York Post. 

The “Everyday in a Winding Road” singer adopted her oldest son Wyatt, 16, a little more than a year after the breakup and her diagnosis. She later adopted son Levi, 13. 

“When my 13-year-old was little, he always thought the first line [of her 1993 hit ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ was] ‘Life springs a turtle’ instead of ‘Life springs eternal’. Kids bring levity to how seriously you take yourself,” she told People. 

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She said when they were younger, her boys loved to have dance parties to her songs like “Real Gone” from Disney’s “Cars” and “Soak up the Sun.” 

“Still, when I play those songs, I think of them: one in their pajamas, one in a diaper,” she told People, adding that having children “changes the way you look at everything. It put everything into perspective.”

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Lance Armstrong with Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong broke off their engagement in 2006. (Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

She added that motherhood has also given her more of an “immediacy” in her songwriting. 

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“I wouldn’t have written so many songs had it not been that I feel like I’m fighting, I’m on the front lines of an army that’s fighting for the future of our children,” she explained. 



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