Anita Cochran's Stage II breast cancer diagnosis -- and the subsequent news that she would have to put the brakes on her tour schedule -- came as a devastating blow to the 51-year-old country singer. She recently told the Tennessean that, though her compromised immune system made traveling extremely risky, she couldn't imagine her life without performing.

"What? How am I going to live?" she says, recalling her reaction to the news.

Cochran broke into the country mainstream in the mid-'90s, releasing her debut studio album, Back to You. The album included Cochran's first and only No. 1 hit single, a duet with Steve Wariner called "What if I Said." She later released a self-titled sophomore album before being dropped by her label, Warner Bros. However, Cochran didn't give up her dream: She continued to write and perform new music, even duetting with Conway Twitty in 2004 for "(I Wanna Hear) a Cheatin' Song." She also served as the musical director for a musical about Twitty's life, hit the road for international tours and worked as both an artist and producer.

Throughout her career, Cochran demonstrated her energy and willingness to be a fighter, and she approached her battle with cancer no differently. As she embarked on an aggressive round of chemotherapy and underwent a double mastectomy in February of 2018, the Nashville country music community flocked to her aid to help with her quickly mounting medical bills. Terri Clark orchestrated a '90s-themed benefit, which took place at 3rd & Lindsley and featured Wynonna Judd, Pam Tillis, Crystal Gayle and many more. Wariner, with whom she'd had a hit more than 20 years earlier, contributed to the event as well, and Cochran even joined him onstage for a performance of "What If I Said."

"I felt like I died, went to heaven and was looking down at my memorial service," Cochran recalls to the Tennesseean. "I was so blessed to see and feel the love from everybody."

Fortunately, Cochran says that she has been cancer-free for the past few months, though she's still finishing a round of chemo and likely won't be able to resume touring until 2019. However, the country singer says that her battle with the disease has affected her purpose as a musician, and that she is now more focused on helping people.

"I didn't want anyone to have to go through what I did, this crash course of, 'Oh my God, learn everything," she continues. "Maybe my journey can help people. I feel like that's my purpose now."

To that end, Cochran has been documenting her experience via her blog for nearly a year, sharing every new medical development and stage of her recovery. She also released a new song called "Fight Like a Girl," which the singer says is about her disease, but can also be applied to whatever battle her listeners are going through.

The song offers a message of strength and empowerment, embodying the values that Cochran has demonstrated throughout her disease and her career. "I've got a lot of livin' left," she says.

Country Stars Who Stand Up Against Cancer