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The tattooed and flamboyant Vancouver singer Bif Naked has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Ms. Naked announced her diagnosis on George Stroumboulopoulos's live radio show The Strombo Show Sunday, with the intention of warning women of the importance of breast self-examination. Ms. Naked, whose real name is Beth Torbert, is 36.

"I found a weird bumpy lumpy in my breast," Ms. Naked said.

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"And it was odd. It struck me as odd."

She discovered the lump during a self-examination shortly before Christmas, her manager, Peter Karroll, said. She is scheduled for surgery this week that includes a lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy.

"She felt she should go for a checkup, and the doctor said, 'I don't think it's anything.' And he sent her for a mammogram and the women there started running around like chickens," he said.

"It's like being on the Price Is Right," Ms. Naked said. "I can't believe coins didn't come out of the machine. They said, 'This is not something we're happy with. Let's do an ultrasound.' … A week later … they did these tests and this biopsy came back basically being pretty gosh darn positive for breast cancer."

Said Mr. Karroll: "It's serious enough for [doctors]to escalate all of their medical treatments."

He added: "It's not the worst and it's not the easiest [level of cancer] It's in the middle. It's medium stage, is what they said. It's Stage 2 in that she's getting some extensive surgery, a lumpectomy, and they're going into her lymph nodes in one arm. The cancer is an aggressive form. It's moveable. It's in motion, so they have to get on it."

It's well-known that the punk-rock singer leads a healthy lifestyle. She is a non-smoker, committed to a strict fitness regimen and vegan raw-food diet.

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"She thought she was indestructible, given her lifestyle, so she's really concerned that other women do the checks," Mr. Karroll said.

Ms. Naked remains characteristically defiant as she faces the disease.

"I'm really confident that it's going to be a snap for me," she said.

"This again is prior to any of my treatments - I have a pre-existing aneurysm in my heart. So it will be a challenge medically.

"Hopefully in three weeks I can start my chemotherapy. … After that, you can go through the steps of radiation, and hopefully be right as right."

The singer and actress joins a growing group of female celebrities to be struck with breast cancer while in their prime.

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Singer Sheryl Crow underwent treatment for breast cancer two years ago at 44 and Australian pop star Kylie Minogue was diagnosed in 2005 at 37.

High-profile Canadians who've received a breast cancer diagnosis include CBC-TV host Wendy Mesley, who discovered a lump at 48, and Liberal MP Belinda Stronach, who underwent a mastectomy and breast reconstruction last year, at 41.

They have all received a positive prognosis for recovery.

Ms. Naked has the attitude of a fighter, and even has the word "survivor" tattooed on her arm. On The Strombo Show, she said she joked to doctors that she was grateful that her new husband, Vancouver Sun sports writer Ian Walker, is "an ass man."

"She started approaching it first off with incredible bravado, and as the seriousness of it kept coming, she's continued to really show a lot of strength," Mr. Karroll said.

Ms. Naked said she'd always worried that breast cancer might strike someone close to her. "I'm grateful it's me and not someone I love or care about," she said.

"With statistics being what they are, I think, 'Man, every year it's going to be somebody. Who's it going to be? Let it be me, please.' I'm just relieved it's nobody I know."

Ms. Naked doesn't know whether there is breast cancer in her extended family. The singer was born to a Canadian woman in India, but adopted by an American couple. While she did find her birth mother in Ontario, her mother was also adopted, so the family history is unknown.

Ms. Naked is a Juno Award winner best known for hits Daddy's Getting Married and I Love Myself Today. She plans to continue working on two albums throughout her cancer treatments.

"When she's sick, she won't be doing much, and when she's not sick, she'll be working," Mr. Karroll said.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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About the Author
Real estate writer

Kerry Gold is a born and bred Vancouverite, and knows her city well. More

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