Shania Twain Opens Up About Battle with Lyme Disease: 'I Was Mourning the Expression of My Voice'

"I felt I had no other choice but to accept it — and that I would never sing again," Twain says, in PEOPLE's exclusive first look at this week's episode of Sunday Today with Willie Geist

Shania Twain was once afraid that her battle with Lyme disease had taken away her voice.

In PEOPLE’s exclusive first look at the country superstar’s upcoming Sunday Today with Willie Geist interview, Twain, 54, opens up about what was going through her head when she underwent multiple open-throat surgeries amid her recovery from the tick-borne illness, which she contracted in 2003.

“I remember thinking and people saying, ‘Where’s Shania Twain? Where did she go?’ ” Geist remarks, in reference to the hiatus she took in 2015 to deal with her vocal cord problems.

“It was devastating,” says Twain. “I was very, very sad about it to the point where I just — I felt I had no other choice but to accept it — and that I would never sing again.”

Twain went on to share that during this difficult time in her life she “was mourning for sure.”

“I was mourning the expression of my voice,” she says.

Shania Twain
NBC News

Luckily for Twain — and country music fans — she was able to recover and return to the spotlight in 2017.

“Do you remember hearing your voice the first time you sang after the surgery and you felt like, ‘I’m back, I can do this again?’ ” asks Geist.

“It was little by little because the surgery is invasive,” Twain replies, noting that while her voice will never be the same as it was before, she’s learned to embrace the changes. “It’s given me more room to play, to be honest,” she adds, noting that she’s also a fan of the new gravely tone to her voice. “I think it’s kind of sexy.”

“I’m never gonna have my own voice again — I’m okay with that. I’ve found a new voice and I like it.”

The American Heart Association's Go Red for Women annual Red Dress Collection, New York, USA - 05 Feb 2020
Shania Twain. Patrick Lewis/Starpix/Shutterstock

Twain recently opened up to PEOPLE about how thrilled she is to be back in the studio and onstage.

“It would have killed me not to be able to ever sing again,” she said. “I wasn’t going to let my life be over if I wasn’t going to be able to sing again, but I would have been very sad and I would have mourned that forever. But it is a great love of mine and a passion — that’s what got me back on stage again, because I could. Now I have more appreciation for it than ever.”

Catch the full interview this Sunday on Sunday Today with Willie Geist, airing at 8 a.m. ET on NBC.The full unedited version of the interview is also available on the Sunday Sitdown podcast.

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