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Patti LaBelle lost three sisters to cancer. Now, she’s telling adults to ‘take heed and get checked’

  • July 27, 2021

Patti LaBelle engaged in a daily ritual.

Shortly after waking up, she’d get on her knees and thank God – “Again, and again and again,” she says – for her health.

This too shall pass, she would remind herself as the daily inundations of death and sickness pervaded the TV news.

She also felt “blessed,” at the time, for avoiding illness and “grateful” for the socially distanced contact she was able to maintain with friends.

On this day, she’s equally appreciative.

“I can’t complain, honey,” she tells USA TODAY. “You’ve just got to take the high road all the time.”

Women of the Century: Patti LaBelle, Taylor Swift among inspiring women in Pennsylvania

LaBelle’s status as one of the all-time great singers – soul, gospel, RB, pop – is undiminished. And while she is working on new music, she’s currently focused on health. Not just her own, which, at 77, she maintains with regular activity. But adults, particularly those over 40, need a nudge to get screened for common cancers such as breast, colorectal, cervical, prostate, lung and skin.

So, she’s partnered with the Community Oncology Alliance and CancerCare, and through October, LaBelle will be seen in PSAs for the Time to Screen campaign.

Checking in from her home just outside of Philadelphia, LaBelle talked about how cancer robbed her of her sisters, how she stays healthy and what’s cooking in her famous kitchen.

LaBelle on staying fit: Just before the pandemic I had gotten a treadmill. At 77 I need to keep as active as possible, so I would do (the treadmill). I would walk the little dog. I would get in the pool and kick my legs. I cooked every day. On Mondays I would think about what I’d cook the whole week and go to the farmer’s market with my mask on. On Fridays, we would have a Pokeno game, a small group of four keeping our distance and eating crabs and still having fun, but with six feet (of space) in mind. Everybody around me would make sure I didn’t touch this or that.

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Passing the torch: I see it a lot out there, people who will carry on our Queendom (laughs). Jennifer Hudson is doing it now with the Aretha (Franklin) movie (“Respect,” out Aug. 13). I love Pink. Billie Eilish. There are so many baby queens out there. We laid out the trail for you, now you come out there and do it.

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