Sheryl Crow will do whatever it takes to help women understand the importance of early breast cancer detection.
Nearly 10 years after being diagnosed herself, the singer has partnered with Hologic, the company behind the Genius 3D mammography exam. Crow tells PEOPLE that the machine is capable of detecting the disease up to 15 months earlier than typical mammography equipment.
“It was a mammogram that discovered my ductal carcinoma,” Crow, 54, says of her cancer detection in 2006. As a result, she underwent a successful lumpectomy and radiation.
While she knows first-hand how frightening the whole process can be, Crow explains that survival rates are improving constantly. “Breast cancer does not have to be a death threat,” she says.
The musician encourages women to go online, locate the closest Genius 3D machine and make an appointment. “Until we have a cure, prevention is really our cure,” she says. “It’s our best treatment.”
Crow also urges all women, specifically those over the age of 40, to educate themselves.
“Make sure you know your family history, know the terrain of your breasts and be diligent about getting a yearly mammogram, ” she says. “The cure rate at five years is 100 percent with an early-detected breast cancer.”
And as a mother of two boys – Wyatt Steven, 9, and Levi James, 6 – Crow understands the toll cancer takes on loved ones as well.
“When you’re diagnosed, it’s not just you that gets diagnosed; it’s your whole family. It’s your close-knit group of friends. It really does make everyone look at life differently.”
•Reporting by MELODY CHIU