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Country Music’s Kelly Lang on Surviving Breast Cancer: “Each Day Is a Beautiful Gift”

Deborah Evans Price

Singer-songwriter Kelly Lang has been a powerhouse in the world of country music since she was 15 years old, but after being diagnosed with breast cancer in the prime of her life, Kelly’s future became uncertain. Here, how advocating for her health and staying hopeful turned her greatest trial into one of her biggest triumphs.

Wise Words

As a singer, songwriter, producer, author, and painter, Kelly Lang’s list of talents are as numerous as her years spent in the country music industry. But that time was almost cut short after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I was 36, single, and had two young daughters,” Kelly tells Woman’s World. “I was terrified.” It all started when she found two little knots during a self-exam. “My doctor told me I was young and that it probably wasn’t anything,” Kelly recalls. “She wasn’t taking me seriously, so I found a new doctor.”

Kelly quickly became a fierce advocate for her health, insisting her new physician do a mammogram, and when that came out clear, she asked for an ultrasound. “I’m not normally bossy, but I knew my own body,” she says. “The tests I asked for found the cancer — and that it had spread to my lymph nodes.”

For the next year, Kelly fought for her life, enduring radiation, chemo, and multiple surgeries. And with the support of her family and a network of strong women, including her friend, the late Olivia Newton-John, Kelly won her battle.

Today, Kelly, 55, continues to inspire women to fight through her autobiography, I’m Not Going Anywhere (Buy from Amazon, $19.99), along with her newest song, “Life Sentence,” which you can listen to in the video below.

“It’s all about teaching women to trust their intuition, and how — even in dark times — to find the light,” says Kelly, who has also started motivational speaking. “Instead of a death sentence, it became my life sentence. And now, I see that each day is a beautiful gift.” See Kelly’s tips for not only surviving — but joyfully thriving.

Stay positive.

“After I was diagnosed with cancer, doctors told me that when they see somebody with a positive attitude, their outcome is way better than someone who expects the worst,” Kelly recalls. “That was my first clue to not think negatively. And I had to be positive for my kids. I didn’t want them to see me scared, and I had to pretend. But when I put a smile on my face and pretended things were all right, suddenly, I felt more positive and I could see brighter things — and that made all the difference.”

Find peace in your faith.

“God Almighty: If it weren’t for Him, I couldn’t function!” Kelly says when asked where she gets her strength in tough times. “My mom is a really beautiful soul. She’s always clung to Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.’ That gets me through.”

There is grace in your grief.

“Grief is a long process that you just have to allow yourself to go through. Don’t force it,” counsels Kelly, who says she deeply misses her close friend Olivia Newton-John. “It’s good to find something that makes you laugh, something that keeps you from going to a dark place, but if you feel sad, it’s okay. God has a plan for you — live in the honor of those you have lost and be a positive light for them. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Become fearless.

“I like to challenge myself to do something outside the box every day — something that makes me feel uncomfortable,” Kelly says. “Sometimes I don’t succeed, but I like the challenge, and that’s what happened with finally writing my book. It gives you confidence when you do something you don’t expect and helps you realize things aren’t all that scary!”

Trust your gut.

“When it comes to your health, listen to your gut instinct,” encourages Kelly, whose ultrasound didn’t initially reveal her cancer. “I was on the table and the lady said, ‘You’re fine.’ But I felt a lump. So I said, ‘You didn’t go into the same area I feel this — may I use your wand?’ That’s when they saw it. I could have said, ‘Thank you, I’m good to go,’ but I just knew in my soul something was wrong. We know as women and I want people to trust that gift.”

Multiply joy with furry friends.

“I love my dog so much!” Kelly says with a smile. “Her name is Coco Chanel Sheppard and she’s a mini Bernedoodle, and whenever I’m down, her unconditional love helps me find joy again. She’s super cute and hyper as can be. She keeps me happy. I giggle all the time about her and she just brings me all the joy in the world.”

If you’re inspired by Kelly Lang and want to hear more from her, good news: she recently released her newest album, Old Soul II (Buy from Amazon, $13.98). “In 2020, I had a blast recording classic songs on my album Old Soul, but I didn’t get to all of the songs I wanted,” says Kelly, who recorded more beloved oldies on her new album, Old Soul II. “I’m also part of an upcoming compilation with everyone Olivia Newton-John did a duet with — from Dolly Parton to John Travolta,” she says. “I’m super grateful to be included.”

A version of this article originally appeared in the print version of the magazine, Woman’s World.

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