"I've definitely been concerned about people putting off their mammograms" due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the singer says

By Julie Mazziotta
Updated September 18, 2020 05:05 PM
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Sheryl Crow
| Credit: Dan Hallman/Invision/AP

When Sheryl Crow was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, it was stage 1 — meaning she had caught it early, thanks to her annual mammogram. She wants everyone to have that same chance at stopping cancer in its tracks, which is why the nine-time Grammy winner is “concerned” about the decline in breast cancer screenings as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

"I've definitely been concerned about people putting off their mammograms for a year," Crow, 58, tells PEOPLE, "because in my situation, that could have been the difference in having to go through chemotherapy or just having what I had, radiation and the lumpectomy."

Mammograms were considered non-essential in many states at the start of the pandemic, but now that they have resumed and there are safety guidelines in place — "people wearing masks, meeting you at your car, taking your temperature" — Crow, a spokesperson for medical imaging company Hologic, is urging people to get their yearly mammogram.

"I'm encouraging women to not let that yearly appointment go by because it can mean a huge difference in the kind of diagnosis you receive, if you are diagnosed with breast cancer," she says. "We have a cure — early detection — and it's our greatest weapon."

Crow understands that mammograms are not the most fun task — "pandemic or not, I did not want to go," she says of those screenings before she was diagnosed.

"I think typically women are maybe afraid they'll find that they have it, or they don't have time, or some people are poorly insured or maybe uninsured. And there's a multitude of reasons to not go, but there is one great reason to go. And that's early detection," she says.

But for Crow, that mammogram in 2006 played a key role in her survival, particularly as someone with no obvious signs of breast cancer.

"It never occurred to me that the mammogram would find anything because I have no family history and I had no signs of it, no lumps or anything like that. And I was extremely, and still am, very healthy, very athletic and fit. I just didn't think I would be a candidate at all."

"It was definitely not at the top of my list of things I wanted to get done, but I did it and looking back, that's part of my story," she continues. "And that's one of the reasons that I am such a proponent for being diligent, and at age 40, getting your yearly mammogram, because it did make a huge difference in my life."

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Now 14 years removed from her cancer diagnosis and treatment, Crow says she's "feeling great."

"I'm still continuing to do the same exercises I've always done," she says. "I do the rowing machine and I'm super active cause I've got two young boys and we do try to eat right. I feel great."

She's also prepping for several concerts, her first since the start of the pandemic. On Sept. 18 and 19, she'll have "Songs from the Big Green Barn," a two-day live stream with members of her touring band, and a setlist of suggested songs from her fans. Crow will have another concert on Oct. 2, but this will be private, with just ten fans as part of a contest with Hologic to get women to sign up for reminders to schedule their mammogram.

"We're just really looking forward to playing for people," she says. "It's our attempt at trying to make something kind of normal out of a very abnormal situation."