By Donna Freydkin, USA TODAY
The event: Don't blame Melissa Etheridge for feeling a little rosy these days. The rocker boarded a customized pink Delta jet Tuesday evening with a plane full of cancer survivors to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It's part of Hard Rock's PINKTOBER initiative and a cause that's dear to Etheridge.
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Why she cares: Etheridge, 48, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2004. She had chemotherapy and is now cancer-free. "Raising awareness and raising funds for research: Those are two things that matter to me," the singer says.
The mood: Giddy. The passengers, most of them flight attendants who are also breast cancer survivors, clapped when the jet took off. They milled around, taking pictures. Etheridge sat in the front row, in first class, but remained approachable, chatting with anyone who walked up to her.
In-flight entertainment: Etheridge strapped on a guitar and chatted up the audience before performing. "No stage rushing," she joked. "We've come a long way in five years. This is pretty fun. ... I think I've joined some kind of mile-high club?" She added, "You guys have made this journey a pretty amazing one so far."
Come to her window: Etheridge performed a version of her hit I Run for Life. She calls it a "song of hope."
The family: The singer lives in Los Angeles with her wife, Tammy Lynn (who recently took Etheridge's last name), and their twins Miller Steven and Johnnie Rose, almost 3 (Etheridge also has daughter Bailey, 12, and son Beckett, 10, from a previous relationship). The kids didn't come along for the ride. "This stuff is just too crazy," Etheridge says. "It's best to do alone and tell them all about it. And the two older ones are in school."
Lessons learned: At home, Etheridge is the chef, and Michaels is the baker who whips up cinnamon rolls. Still, the singer is vigilant about being healthy. "Going through breast cancer taught me about that," she says. "I'm more in touch with health and balance and stress and the food I put in my body."
Next project: Her new album, Fearless Love, arrives in March. "It really rocks," she says.
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