NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Bif Naked doesn’t mince words: Getting breast cancer sucks.
But sitting around complaining about it isn’t much better.
In December 2007, the inked-up Vancouver rocker returned home from her honeymoon only to feel a lump during a self breast exam.
Two weeks later, her doctor gave her the grim news, requiring a lumpectomy and weeks of chemotherapy.
At the time, Naked was celebrating the success of her fifth album, Superbeautifulmonster, and her marriage to Vancover Sun sports writer Ian Walker. Now, she was faced with the end of her life.
Which might have happened if Naked, now 37, wasn’t such a fitness buff. A vegan with infectious energy, she works out for hours every day.
It gave her stamina during her three surgeries and 17 (at last count) chemo sessions.
Her treatment included a port created just above her collar bone, allowing a catheter direct access to her heart.
On the line from Vancouver, she laughs about coming home from the hospital, seeing her old publicity photos, and realizing that Bif Naked might be gone forever.
“I looked at the promo shots we took for Superbeautifulmonster compared to now I looked like some porn star. I just don’t look like that anymore.
“But then I thought, ‘How can I be so shallow?”’
The reason she was looking at promo shots is she needed new ones for an album she recorded while undergoing chemo.
Most women will tell you they can barely get out of bed during this ordeal.
Naked fought the nausea and trekked down the street in her pyjamas to her studio, where the headphones would frequently slip off her chemo-induced bald head.
It didn’t stop her from recording The Promise, one of the hardest-rocking albums of her career.
No self-pitying ballads. No mournful songs about mortality. Naked says she was pushed like never before by her producer and co-writer, Jason Darr.
“He’s just insane,’ she says. “Jason set the bar differently. I really needed that push.”
The intense recording resulted in fiery tracks like Sick, where Naked sounds as raw as she has ever been. Listeners might assume she’s lashing out at her chemo, but it’s an all-encompassing rant.
It nailed her mood perfectly, Naked didn’t want to come off as damaged goods — she wanted to reclaim her rock star turf.
Whenever a song started getting soft, Darr gave it attitude.
“I’ve always done things the same way,” she says.
“I can’t be left to my own devices. If I did, they’d all be country songs.”
She doesn’t intend to go soft in concert, either.
Her new tour, stopping by The Moose & Goose in Thorold, Ont., on Saturday, features longer set lists and — somehow — more energy than the last time around.
Her workload isn’t letting up — she’s already prepping another album, and as her strength returns, she has “a million things” she wants to do (including a possible book, hampered only by her laughable typing skills).
“It’s funny — I tell people, the only way to get a year off from touring was to get cancer.”