Melissa Etheridge calls breast cancer diagnosis “a gift”

Pop Goes The News — Melissa Etheridge says being diagnosed with breast cancer nearly a decade ago was “a gift.”

The 54-year-old singer told Montreal journalist Richard Burnett she didn’t see cancer as a fight but as “an awakening” about her body.

“I have a holistic belief about my cancer,” Etheridge explained in an interview published in Fugues. “I believe deeply that it is a symptom of my body being out of balance. The cancer showed me I was out of balance in my diet, my stress. All of these things I had to change. And I did.”

Etheridge said she has been cancer-free for two years and “healthier now than I ever was.”

Having cancer, she said, “was not so much a battle but a gift. It changed my life. I have never been happier and healthier.”

Etheridge also told Burnett why she publicly identified musician David Crosby in 2000 as the biological father of her two children with ex-partner Julie Cypher.

“For the safety of my children,” the singer recalled. “This was at the turn of the century when all of a sudden the tabloid magazines really kicked into gear. Everything – the tabloids, the Internet – the whole game changed.

“I was never going to tell anybody who my children’s father was. It was none of their business. Yet secrets are what people are after now.”

Etheridge spoke about the U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer to legalize equal marriage (“I still get choked up when I think about it”) and reflected on the days before she and other celebrity lesbians came out publicly.

“We were just scared and trying to make it in the entertainment business,” she said. “At the time there were pool parties at my house with Rosie [O’Donnell] and Ellen [DeGeneres] and k.d. [Lang] and all of us were hanging out. And we talked about what it might be like if we all came out. We were so out within the industry and to all our friends that it just made sense that we would cross the line.

“We did. And each time we did it made us all reexamine our lives. In doing so, each of us united a whole community and hopefully gave other gays the strength to come out. Because that’s what changes the world, our coming out.”

Melissa Etheridge performs in Kitchener, Ont. on Sept. 21; Quebec City on Sept. 23; Moncton on Sept. 24; Halifax on Sept. 25; and Montreal on Sept. 27.