Do you feel that your cancer is part of the past, or does it still affect you?
It doesn’t affect me physically anymore, but it affects the way I live my whole life today. The choices I make, the food I eat — everything is influenced by my breast cancer.
Did you ever worry that it would be the end of your career?
No. I had already been through coming out as gay, and it didn’t ruin my career. I just felt that I should keep doing my thing.
On the positive side, has breast cancer given you any creative impulses?
Everything I’ve ever done since being diagnosed with breast cancer has been influenced by it! You face the fear of your own mortality. When I was diagnosed, I started thinking more spiritually and emotionally, both in my personal life and as an artist. Having breast cancer has taught me not to be afraid of anything.
Women with breast cancer often get depressed about losing their hair, but you famously performed bald while undergoing chemotherapy. What made you do it?
When I got the call saying I’d be performing at the Grammys, I thought to myself ‘wait a minute, I’m bald!’ I called some friends, and they all encouraged me to do it. I had thought it would feel a bit strange, but it didn’t.
You’ve said you used and still use medical marijuana. How does it help you?
The first step after you’re diagnosed is that the doctors give you steroids, but that makes you constipated, so they give you another drug for that, but that drug has side effects, too. In the end, you’re on five-six drugs and still feel miserable.
I thought, there’s this plant that gives no side effects except making you hungry, which is good. It makes you happy, too. Medical marijuana made a huge difference for me. I still use it for stress. Stress gives me heartburn and acid in my throat, which means I couldn’t perform unless I used medical marijuana.