Sheryl Crow learned to put herself first after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow

The 'All I Wanna Do' hitmaker was stunned to be told she had the disease after a routine mammogram in 2006 and admits her battle taught her a "big lesson" and made her change her priorities.

She said: "I was the last person who I thought would have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

"Even though I knew I was going to live, it stopped me in my tracks.

"The cancer dictated that I look at my life and redefine how I was living and the way I was putting everyone before me. I was constantly trying to make people happy. There was a really big lesson in that for me."

The 54-year-old singer is now cancer-free but has never discussed her illness with her adopted sons, Wyatt, nine, and Levi, six, because she doesn't want to frighten them.

She told Parade magazine: "My kids are six and nine. I have not really spoken to them about mommy having breast cancer.

"I don't think they would be able to understand that mommy had a life-threatening disease. I'm a single mom. It could incite some fear.

"There will come a day for me to say, 'There was a time where I was diagnosed with an illness that kills some people, but mine is a story of hope.'

"I'm practically a poster child for early detection and there's a lot of great news in that."

Sheryl wants her sons to grow up to be "caring and compassionate" and will tell them about her past eventually.

She said: "I try to raise my boys with a sense of overall gratitude at all times and a respect for the planet and for the people around them. So I want to raise caring, stable, compassionate boys.

"There will be a time for learning about mom's past. I actually remember the day I realised that my parents actually had lives before I was born.

"I don't think my kids are at that point yet where they think that there was ever a life before they existed."

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