Anastacia stole our hearts with her eclectic pop stylings in the early 2000s, overcoming her ongoing health problems (she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was 13) to bring us such mammoth hits as I’m Outta Love, Why’d You Lie To Me, and Not That Kind.
But, just a few years after her career took off, Anastacia was diagnosed with breast cancer and, when doctors later found that the disease had returned, she underwent a double mastectomy.
Since then, Anastacia has campaigned tirelessly for a number of cancer charities and, while performing on this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing, she announced a brand-new partnership with Cancer Research UK.
Now, in in an intimate new cover shoot for the latest issue of FAULT Magazine, Anastacia has revealed her mastectomy scars for the first time in a bid to ensure the moment happens on her own terms, and not via any intrusive paparazzi pictures.
“I’m nervous to let people see them, I really am, but I want to be able to go on the beach and not have the first photographs taken of my body to be ones that I didn’t give,” she explained. “I want to be free and knowing that this photo shoot will be out there and available, I can be on the beach and not worry about what people think.
“Paparazzi can take a photo of me breathing in and call it a gut or say all the things they want, that doesn’t scare me, but my scars are a part of me and I want to be the one to reveal them. If paparazzi photographed them, I’d feel like I was being shamed but being able to release them this way, I feel extremely empowered.”
The 48-year-old explained that since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, she has felt a strong sense of duty to other women around the world. As such, she has worked closely with Cancer Research UK to help them come up with ways of encouraging women to talk about their diagnosis, their treatment, and the emotions they experience.
“We’re getting a chat board up for women to talk and discuss cancer with people who have actually been through it all,” she said, adding that many find face-to-face talks extremely difficult, but that “many are willing to chat over instant messages or forums”.
She added that she fully intends to use these boards herself, albeit anonymously. This, she hopes, will allow her to chat to cancer sufferers more “honestly and openly” than she would be able to do so as an award-winning artist in the public eye.
Anastacia recently appeared on this year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing, which airs on BBC One, but was forced to pull out of a dance-off because she ‘ripped’ her mastectomy scars during training and feared she would be going home for further surgery.
“I just thought it was a sore muscle and I just waited for it to pass but it got progressively worse and then I felt a lump which I knew couldn’t be cancer because I didn’t have any breast tissue left but it had to be something,” she said.
She continued: “I decided to continue with the performance, and we took out the lift to help me do that. By the end of the performance I was in a lot of pain, and knew I needed to see a specialist. Then I was told there was a dance-off. I knew I was physically unable to perform, and I was terrified about what damage I had already done.
“I began to cry and said ‘Sorry I’ll get my things and go and thanks for the opportunity’ and I was ready to leave… I didn't know they had contingencies for occurrences like that.”
Thankfully, Anastacia was able to return to Strictly, and waltzed beautifully to A Thousand Years from the Twilight film (below).
She was later announced as the sixth contestant to leave the dancefloor, after being forced to go up against Daisy Lowe’s paso doble.
When asked by presenter Tess Daly what had been her highlight, Anastacia said: “I’ve really enjoyed being here. This was a place for me to get to know my ‘female’ and this place allowed me to do that; the hair, the make-up, the production, the judges gave me great comments.”
She added: “You and Claudia [Winkleman] have been amazing, the way you run this family, this family is beautiful.”
Anastacia also praised her professional dance partner, Brendan Cole, as “amazing”, and thanked him “for everything”.
Cole responded: “This programme will miss you. I will miss you. Thank you for teaching me so much about everything and for being a fantastic partner. Thank you so much – what a great ride.”
Anastacia has battled cancer twice before; she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34, and, in February 2013, it was announced that she was fighting a far more intense form of the disease.
In October that same year, to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she informed the world’s media that she had undergone a double mastectomy.
“l was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time earlier this year and am currently in the final stages of recovery after undergoing a double mastectomy,” she said at the time.
“It has been an intense journey but l am feeling great and ready to start the next chapter.
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month gives all who are facing this disease a chance to gain strength and support from each other. Early detection has saved my life twice. I will continue to battle and lend my voice in any way I can.”
Read Anastacia’s full interview in FAULT Magazine here.