Rocker Linda Perry Reveals She Had a Double Mastectomy After Breast Cancer Diagnosis: 'I Feel So Lucky' (Exclusive)

The "What's Up?" singer discovered her illness after undergoing elective breast reduction surgery

<p>Heidi Zumbrun</p> Linda Perry in 2023.

Heidi Zumbrun

Linda Perry in 2023.

For her entire career as a singer and songwriter, Linda Perry has let her music speak for her. But now, she’s telling all in a revealing new documentary — including a secret battle with breast cancer.

Perry, 59, was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy in 2021, and tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue that she’s grateful to have had the chance to catch her illness early.

“I feel so lucky because there’s so many women that don’t get that opportunity,” she says.

The former 4 Non Blondes singer realized she had cancer while preparing for an elective breast reduction surgery, she explains in her new documentary Linda Perry: Let It Die Here, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on June 6.

After surgery, tissue is submitted for routine pathology evaluation — and doctors discovered that the Grammy-nominated star had triple negative cancer in her breast. Triple-negative cancer “tends to grow and spread faster” than other types of cancer, has fewer treatment options, and has a worse prognosis, according to the American Cancer Society.

<p>Heidi Zumbrun</p> Linda Perry in 2023

Heidi Zumbrun

Linda Perry in 2023

Related: Linda Perry Reveals She's Only Watched Linda Perry: Let It Die Here Documentary Once (Exclusive)

Perry says she’s confident that had she not had the surgery, she would not have found her cancer until it was too late, as she would have attributed her symptoms to stress, because she was caring for her ill mother at the time.

“My doctor basically said the cancer that I had was the kind that she finds in people where they have six months to maybe two years to live,” she says. “And I would’ve never found it, and I would’ve never done anything about it when I started feeling off, because I would’ve thought it was because of my mom and the stressful situation I was under.”

The “What’s Up?” singer says her doctor told her her options included radiation and a double mastectomy, and she thought the latter was a “no-brainer.”

<p>Theo Wargo/Getty</p> Linda Perry and her child Rhodes in June 2024.

Theo Wargo/Getty

Linda Perry and her child Rhodes in June 2024.

Perry, who is mother to a 9-year-old named Rhodes with ex-wife Sara Gilbert, was in the midst of filming Let It Die Here when she got her diagnosis. After talking it over with director Don Hardy, she decided to keep the cameras rolling.

“The hammer was on me, and this happened in real time. I remember calling Don and going, ‘You’re not going to believe this,’” she says. “And he’s like, ‘Well, do you want to talk about it?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, we’re in it. Let’s just do it.’”

Related: Dolly Parton Teams Up with 4 Non Blondes' Linda Perry for New Cover of Band's Signature Hit 'What's Up?'

Perry is best known for her time in 4 Non Blondes, and as a songwriter of hits like “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera and “Get the Party Started” by Pink. She is currently gearing up for the release of the documentary, as well as a still-untitled new album.

“I am really finally enjoying this person I’m becoming,” she says. “I’ve always had this thing where I just want to be the best. So much f---ing pressure to be the best. But now I’m like, I just want to be the best at who I am. And that takes a lot of pressure off. I don’t want to be f---ing Superman. I don’t want to save the world. I just want to save the people I can, and I want to be the best person that I am.”

For more on Linda Perry, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

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