Transcript of the Mayo Clinic speech

Anastacia Newkirk – singer, composer, cancer survivor
21st October 2006, Mayo Clinic, keynote speechf
from 8:20 to 8:55 A.M.
Anastacia went onto the podium, after her introduction.
She spoke from her heart (no notes).

I was born in Chicago, Illinois. I have one sister.

I had Chron’s disease at age 12, had surgery to remove parts of my intestines. I took prednisone.

I was 29 years old and I was about to give up singing, as a career. Then I got a call to appear on a TV music show (MTV – “The Cut”). I had an opportunity. This music business is wild and strange. I wrote an album in 2000, 2001 and 2002 (Collectors edition).

I was working on the third album and I wanted to do something as a woman. I wanted to take care of myself and have a breast reduction. My mother had a breast reduction and she did very well with it. I had 38 DD breasts and sciatica and herniated discs. In 2003 I planned to have this operation done in lieu of writing the third album.

Age 34 I had my first mammogram. I had a pre-op test.

Monday in 2003, I went to New York to Dr. Barbara Edelstein to have a mammogram / ultrasound.

I had a lunch appointment with my music producer. “I had to have a biopsy asap,” said the oncologist. I called my Mom and sister in California. I had a computer class, also scheduled this day. I dumped all of my troubles on my computer teacher. I rescheduled my computer lesson.

I had a biopsy and hoped it would be great. What happened – I had stage 1 cancer. I told myself that if it were cancer I would go public. “Are you sure about that?” asked my manager. “Why not?” “Some stars had cancer and not told their closest friends.” It is a shameful, degrading disease. It takes away sex appeal. I did not think that would be the case.

Had a purpose. We don’t ask for cancer. I did not feel any shame.

I called Mom in California. Mom is coming to New York to go with me to the oncologist.

I registered under my real name, Anastacia Newkirk. Thursday – biopsy was performed. I caught pneumonia. My temperature was really high. I was absolutely ill. I started taking antibiotics. At 4 PM on Friday, my Mom left the apartment to get coffee. The answering machine clicked on. It was a doctor. He asked for “Anastacia”. The results were in my biopsy. Malignant. I was so floored. At that moment, I fell to my knees and cried. My Mom was with me and holding me. My older sister did not come to New York. She felt that if she were not there it would not be cancerous. But it was cancerous. Doctor said the “C” word and I sad: “I’ve got toxic titties.”

I had the biopsy and it was cancer. The cancer was through the nipple area. I had stage 1 cancer.

I registered at the private hospital under my real name again.

The record company that I am signed which said: “I have flu.”

Somehow the news leaked out that Anastacia had cancer. The press came to Anastacia and asked for a statement. It was 10 minutes “Break-in” news. I worried about my fans. I said: “I would be OK.” I am dealing with stuff.

Tuesday I had a video shoot for Chicago movie. Harry Weinstein was producer. I kept the video shoot. I had a trash can next to me. Every third take I threw up. I had an excellent make up artist and hair dresser. I had choreography practice on Monday. I have cancer, healing myself. Surgery was scheduled within 1 –1/2 weeks. I told the doctors that I wanted to do the breast reduction and removal of the cancer at the same time. Only open me up one time.

The reality of my career, the ability to have breast reduction. I am grateful at one point, not going to let the cancer stop me.

I feel satisfied that I got the work done. Even if I passed away.

I was in private clinic, every news company and press people were there. They focused on me. Not as an American artist or actress, just on me as woman.

I got a call from the people at 20/20 news program. I do not mind doing this show. I need to know my own camera guy. I will give 20/20 an edited copy of my surgery. I allowed the camera into the surgery room. The four hour surgery took 8 hours. Oncologist: ”More diseased tissue had to be removed than was anticipated.” Because I was sick with pneumonia, the disease spread out. The doctor took out a large amount of cancerous tissue. The reconstruction surgeon was doing this blind because he could not look at his original markings.

My family was freaking out. My family got very scared. They saw me after the surgery with drain tubes and it was absolutely painful.

The cancerous lymph nodes were removed. I convinced myself to surrender, to die, the best I can.

Four days later, Mom got the call that the doctors did not have to perform aggressive radiation on me. “We can do it without chemo.” More ecstatic – cry to think about all the people who get the other answer. I had resources and the best doctors.

No one could relate to it at that moment. I was in an angry place, you know? I wanted to be by myself. I had to get over the anger of the cancer. I had to do something. Cancer research foundation. Prevention cancer research foundation.

20/20 special was done. I met with Rosie O’Donnell who knows breast cancer female stars who did not come out and tell the world that they had breast cancer. Rosie told me that I was brave and courageous. I know so many people who did not come forward. Now breast cancer has a “young face”.

Every day, scientists discover more research at Mayo Clinic. There are many people who recover from cancer. I have to keep getting tested every six months. The doctors found one abnormal biopsy 1 – 1/2 years later (in 2004). Cancer could come back.

I just could not believe it, but I have a normal biopsy. Thank god.

I have a caution. I am never out of the woods, don’t live in denial. Cancer comes in disguises.

I am OK to go to the doctor. I understand what is wrong.