Jazmine Sullivan Says Mom's Breast Cancer Battle Has Brought Them Closer — And Made Her Take Health Seriously

"I've been able to reciprocate the love and support that she's given me all my life," the R&B singer said while on the PEOPLE Every Day podcast

Jazmine Sullivan is making health a priority amid Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Grammy-nominated singer appeared on the PEOPLE Every Day to talk about her partnership with with Novartis on More Than Just Words, an initiative that is creating solutions to address disparities in breast cancer care. Sullivan, 34, also shared how her mother's own battle with breast cancer changed their relationship for the better.

"We've definitely gotten closer," she told host Janine Rubenstein about her mom Pam Sullivan, who was first diagnosed in 2019. "Obviously you appreciate people more if you even think that you could lose them, but I've been able to reciprocate the love and support that she's given me all my life back to her. And I'm so fulfilled doing that."

Jazmine Sullivan accepts the Album of the Year award with Pam Sullivan onstage at the BET Awards 2021 at Microsoft Theater on June 27, 2021
Johnny Nunez/Getty

The R&B star jokes that these days, she even takes her mom's input seriously.

"[There's] a difference than before the diagnosis, where maybe I might be a little irritated to hear mom's advice, but now I want to hear it," Sullivan adds. "I want to be with her as much as possible. I'm setting up a room in my house for her to come and stay over, making sure she's comfortable."

At the BET Awards in June, Sullivan nabbed the Album Of The Year trophy for the acclaimed Heaux Tales, and brought her mom on stage with her to accept the honor. For the vocal powerhouse, being able to support Pam through all of this has been a gift. "There's nothing more special than being there for somebody when they need you," she explains. "And I'm so happy that I've had the opportunity to do it."

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Pam's battle with the disease has inspired her daughter to focus on her own health, including setting up an appointment for a mammogram.

"It's scary to have gone through this with your parent and to know that you're more at risk, but what I have learned is that information is key and knowing earlier can do so much more good than harm," Sullivan admits, adding that her work with More Than Just Words has pushed her to have difficult conversations about healthcare with her girlfriends.

"We're all in our early 30s, where we would normally talk about our love lives and things like that," she says. "We are now including our health, because it's a pressing issue and you want to make sure that you're holding the people accountable that you love, and that they're holding you accountable and making sure that you all are taking care of yourselves."

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Sullivan and her mom remain "very positive and hopeful" as they take things day-by-day. The star now wants to be of service by spreading messages about health disparities and breast cancer to help other Black women, who she points out are dying from the disease 40% more than white women.

"We didn't talk a lot about health growing up. I didn't hear a lot about it even in school growing up," she says. "These are conversations that we have to have for our own well being and I just want to be a part of Black women surviving."

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