How Gratitude Helps During Cancer Journey
- Singer Melissa Etheridge, 62, has a refreshed outlook on life that's focused on her family and her music. Her new memoir sheds light on those cherished aspects of her life and how she's overcome adversity including a death of a child and overcoming cancer.
- Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer after discovering a lump in her breast in 2004. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy to treat the cancer.
- Gratitude is a mindset that helps people face adversity and builds resilience, according to experts we spoke to. It means being thankful for what you have and showing appreciation for it. Several studies have indicated that learning to live with gratitude can lead to more happiness and less stress.
- One way to exercise gratitude is to take time to think about things you appreciate every day. One way to exercise gratitude in your life includes writing down those things in a journal.
Country singer Melissa Etheridge, 62, says the joy of having a family is the biggest surprise in her life. Etheridge has seemingly found a new leaf in life in recent years chronicled in a new memoir by the popular musician. Among the things Etheridge is reflective and grateful for is the bond with her kids.
Recently, Etheridge showed some love and support for fellow singer Taylor Swift, 33, at a concert at Chicago's Soldier Field. Surrounded by tens of thousands of fans, Etheridge met with her daughter Bailey, 26. The two snapped a loving photo for Bailey's Instagram story showing the mother-daughter duo sitting in a VIP tent for the energetic show.
Read MoreMelissa Etheridge (@metheridge) June 4, 2023 Etheridge tweeted about the memorable experience with her daughter saying, "It's so awesome to share the music and memories of this amazing artist with my daughter."
"Family is the thing that has surprised me the most in my life," Etheridge said to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The "Come to My Window" singer has four children in total.
"Growing up gay in the '70s, we thought we weren't going to have kids. It just wasn't a thing. And so, in the '90s, when it was like, 'Oh, let's have kids,' I was like, 'Well, look at that.' Having children is a whole other adventure that will lift you up like nothing else," Etheridge said.
Etheridge is currently on tour and reflecting on her life and career that spans more than three decades. She's known for her music and occasional acting. She's earned several awards including multiple Grammys, an Oscar, and a star on the Walk of Fame.
ClassicRockHistory.com lists "Come to My Window" as Etheridge's most popular song. She produced the hit single in 1994 and it earned her a Grammy. She previously shared in an Instagram post, she was "having some difficulties" in a relationship when she wrote the popular song.
"I was away all the time, I was traveling and touring. I would always get on the phone, and we would have nothing to talk about because we were so far awayâ€¦and it was a lot of nothing on the phone. I remember thinking, I didn't think people would understand this and I almost didn't put this on the album. But good friends of mine said, Melissa, put this on the album and I'm so glad I did," Etheridge said.
Other songs Etheridge is known for include "Bring Me Some Water," "I Want to Come Over," and "I'm the Only One."
In her personal life, she's no stranger to adversity and one of her beloved children was at the center of it. In 2020, she lost her son Beckett Cypher at 21 years old to opioid addiction. Amid her grief, she turned to music to help her "heal."
Melissa Etheridge (@metheridge) May 14, 2020
Although Etheridge has presented an enormous amount of courage and resilience personally and professionally, she's still taking the time to find the joys in life. Even in the face of adversity that includes being an open LGBTQ artist, motherhood, loss of a child, and overcoming cancer, she's kept a positive attitude.
"Isn't life all about experiencing that wide range of feelings while we're here? Isn't it about loving so much that it can hurt that much? My family is just such a deep, deep joy in my life," Etheridge explained.
Melissa Etheridge's Cancer Journey
Etheridge's life has not always been easy, and it's been a source of inspiration for some of her music. Part of her life's journey includes a bout with breast cancer.
In 2004, she was on tour when she discovered a lump in her left breast. A biopsy confirmed her breast cancer diagnosis. Although her exact type of breast cancer isn't publicly known, it was stage 2 upon discovery.
"It was a rather large tumor, but had only contaminated one lymph node," she told ABC News.
She had a lumpectomy to remove a 4-centimeter tumor from her breast. This procedure involves removing just the cancer and an area of healthy tissue around it. Her surgery also included the removal of 14 lymph nodes after discovering the cancer had spread.
She then received chemotherapy which involves giving the singer drugs designed to kill cancer cells. Chemo is usually administered either orally or intravenously. The "Angels Would Fall" singer also received radiation therapy. This kind of cancer treatment uses high-energy beams such as X-rays aimed at cancer cells designed to kill them.
In 2005, the singing cancer warrior bravely performed at the Grammy Awards while still bald from chemotherapy.
While undergoing treatment, Etheridge credited her ultrasound technician for helping her cope with the initial diagnosis.
"She was a five-year survivor who had a full mastectomyâ€¦and she opened her blouse and said, 'this is the worst that can happen'," Etheridge said.
WATCH: Understanding a double mastectomy.
A double mastectomy is a procedure in which both breasts are removed to get rid of cancer. The procedure may also be performed as a preventative measure for women who are at a very high risk of developing breast cancer.
Thankfully, her course of treatment proved to be successful and she's still able to perform across the country with her most famous hits. The popular singer is currently touring and is expected to perform on Broadway in September.
More on Breast Cancer Treatment
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- Genetic Testing Is Increasingly Driving Treatment For Breast Cancer And May Actually Help Lower Costs
- HER2-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment Options Explained
- Monitoring After Treatment for Breast Cancer
How Cancer Can Shift Your Mindset
"It was difficult for a few years until I got cancer," Etheridge said to "The Daily Beast".
"After cancer, I resolved that I was never going to think of 'Is there going to be a hit?' I am going to create music I want to play live. I want people going to my concerts and performances to say, 'Oh, this is on my bucket list. To see Melissa Etheridge in concert is an experience everyone should want to experience," she said.
Many cancer patients who bravely shared their stories with SurvivorNet often talk about how their outlook on life shifts amid their cancer journeys. The shift in mindset often includes a sense of gratitude for cancer patients.
WATCH: Finding gratitude and its impact on your well-being.
Gratitude means being thankful for what you have and showing appreciation for it. It's a mindset that helps people going through tough times, and the experts SurvivorNet spoke with encourage cancer warriors and their loved ones to practice gratitude.
Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal cancer surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, told SurvivorNet that his patients who live with gratitude tend to handle treatment better because this attitude is one way to stay mentally healthy.
"The patients who do well with cancer, they live life with that kind of gratitude, but in terms of everything," he explained. "They're grateful, not for cancer, but they're grateful for an opportunity to know that life is finite."
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, several studies have indicated that learning to live with gratitude can lead to more happiness and less stress.
One way to exercise gratitude is to take time to think about things you appreciate every day. One way to exercise gratitude in your life includes writing down those things in a journal.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you are in the middle of a cancer journey and are looking to improve your emotional health, consider what you're grateful for. To begin, ask yourself the following questions to kickstart your journey to achieve gratitude.
- What can I do if I'm struggling to be thankful for what I have in my life?
- Are there local resources for people wishing to improve their mental health?
- What else can I do to help reduce my stress level during my cancer journey?