Anasta­cia’s in­spir­ing Strictly mes­sage

TV Times - - Front Page - Emma Bul­limore

Pop su­per­star and breast can­cer sur­vivor anasta­cia on us­ing Strictly to in­spire other women, show­ing her scars and her ad­mi­ra­tion for Judge rinder…

She’s got the voice of a diva, but singer and Strictly star Anasta­cia be­haves more like a life­long friend. Within five min­utes of meet­ing her, the US su­per­star is ca­su­ally chat­ting to TV Times about her lat­est trip to Boots (ÔI need to avoid blis­tersõ), trav­el­ling on the Lon­don Un­der­ground (ÔI blend in, as long as IÕM not in my blingõ) and her ob­ses­sion with Judge Rinder (ÔHEÕS far su­pe­rior to Judge Judy and much hot­terõ).

Her laugh is in­fec­tious and her en­ergy en­vi­able. But itõs not long be­fore ef­fer­ves­cent Anasta­cia, 48, moves the sub­ject onto some­thing more se­ri­ous Ð the real rea­son she signed up for this yearõs Strictly.

Af­ter two bat­tles with breast can­cer and a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy in 2013, the Chicago-born singing sen­sa­tion wanted to throw her­self into a joy­ous new chal­lenge.

ÔIT was the per­fect time to be asked to do the show be­cause I was in a ÒYESÓ place. I re­ally felt like I needed to stop over­think­ing things and just go for it, I donõt want to let life stop me,õ she tells us. ÔI have no idea whatõs go­ing to come of Strictly but Iõve only ever heard pos­i­tive things from peo­ple on the show.õ Anasta­cia has sold more than 30 mil­lion records world­wide, with hits in­clud­ing I’m Outta Love and Left Out­side Alone. She is donat­ing her Strictly fee to breast can­cer re­search and hopes to in­spire other sur­vivors with her per­for­mances on the show.

‘It’s re­ally im­por­tant to me to be of ser­vice to other women. I want to try to raise money while show­ing that IÕM a mas­tec­tomy pa­tient, try­ing to do moves that wonõt be easy for me be­cause of my rad­i­cal surgery.õ

Anasta­ci­aõs re­ly­ing on her dance part­ner, series one cham­pion Bren­dan Cole, to put to­gether clever chore­og­ra­phy to help her.

ÔMY pec­toral mus­cles un­der­went ra­di­a­tion, so my back mus­cles were moved to the front of my body,õ she ex­plains. ÔIÕLL need to

change some of the moves a lit­tle bit. Itõs so odd, the re­sults look great, but when I try to get up out of a chair my boob hits my chin.õ

Anasta­cia, who was also di­ag­nosed with the long-term in­flam­ma­tory bowel con­di­tion Crohnõs dis­ease at the age of 13, wants to en­cour­age other women to be vig­i­lant about their health.

Ôsome­times you have to do some­thing un­com­fort­able to get to where you need to be. For me that was the mas­tec­tomy Ð I knew the end re­sult would mean the can­cer was gone, and I liked that, even though it was hard to get there.

‘I feel blessed, be­cause without th­ese kinds of ad­ver­si­ties I would not have be­come the per­son I am. But

Iõve re­alised that thereõs so much mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion around breast can­cer, so I want to ad­vise younger women, those who are ter­ri­fied to go to the doc­tor.

Ôbe­ing fright­ened means you may be taken from us early, so weõve got to try to build a lit­tle con­fi­dence. Early de­tec­tion is key.õ

Anasta­ci­aõs only reser­va­tion about ap­pear­ing on the show is re­veal­ing her mas­tec­tomy scars in some of the out­fits.

ÔIÕM go­ing to be wear­ing a big one­sie!õ she laughs. ÔI have a lot of scars on my back so the cos­tumes are go­ing to be chal­leng­ing.

ÔIÕM open to the pos­si­bil­ity of per­haps show­ing them, but thereõs no guar­an­tee be­cause IÕM still very scared of that. All of us women who go through can­cer have our own lit­tle fears and thatõs def­i­nitely mine, but the show might give me the courage to do it. If not, Iõll be wear­ing se­quins on my back!õ

The danc­ing shoes are also caus­ing con­ster­na­tion, but for a very dif­fer­ent rea­son. ÔIÕM only lit­tle, so IÕM an­noyed they arenõt high enough. My legs are go­ing to look like tree stumps. My feet think itõs awe­some, though, not to be in six-inch heel­séõ

Heels could be the least of Anasta­ci­aõs wor­ries, as sheõs part­nered with fa­mously com­pet­i­tive Bren­dan.

ÔITÕS so far, so good. Iõve heard about Bren­dan be­ing tough but I think heõs amaz­ing and a great teacher. Plus I donõt ex­actly have a de­mure rep­u­ta­tion Ð IÕM pretty strong and itõs a good match.õ

Not only has Anasta­cia tamed Bren­dan, sheõs soft­en­ing up the judges, too. Ôhereõs a fun fact, I did a gig in Ber­lin this week­end and who was in the queue check­ing in for the same flight to go to the UK? Craig Revel Hor­wood. So I said to him, Òfirst of all, stop both­er­ing me, and se­condly, stop judg­ing meó.

ÔWE just joked about it, heõs a nice man, but heõs got to do his thing on the show. Heõs got to be hon­est, even if peo­ple donõt want to hear it and I do re­spect that be­cause IÕM Amer­i­can,

I have to keep it real. Bren­dan can say what he needs to, but you wonõt see me an­swer­ing back.õ

Anasta­cia has also bonded with her ri­val celebri­ties, par­tic­u­larly the ir­re­press­ible Judge Rinder, though she only recog­nised a few of the Brits.

ÔI knew Louise [Red­knapp] from back in the day and I know Will [Young] from the cir­cuit. Then there was Naga [Munchetty from BBC Break­fast] who I watch in the morn­ing if IÕM in Lon­don and I was like, ÒOH my God,

I know you, you wake me upó.

ÔI to­tally knew Judge Rinder, heõs just adorable Ð he gives it all that and a bag of chips! [TV Times as­sumes this is a good thing]. Some­times a group of us will sit at home tex­ting about his show and the crazy cases on there.õ

And so the fi­nal in­evitable ques­tion. Has Anasta­cia been eye­ing up the glit­ter­ball tro­phy?

Ôyeah, of course, it will go per­fectly in my house, are you kid­ding me? Iõve al­ways wanted one of those disco balls and if

Iõve earned it on the show then I can tell peo­ple IÕM a dancer!õ

the singer­song­writer has her sights set on the glit­ter­ball tro­phy

Live en­ter­tain­ment Strictly Come Danc­ing satur­day / bbc1 / 6.30Pm

I have a lot of scars on my back, so the cos­tumes are go­ing to be chal­leng­ing’ Will tem­pers fly be­tween ‘pretty strong’ Anasta­cia and bol­shie Bren­dan? Outta this world: Per­form­ing at the Brit Awards in 2002 strictly come danc­ing is pre­viewed on pages 34-35

• For de­tails about the causes, symp­toms and treat­ment of breast can­cer, as well as sup­port groups, go to www.can­cer­re­searchuk.org

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