When Shania Twain first started having issues with singing, she tried to explain them away, until she realized she was barely able to perform, at all. The Canadian decided to seek treatment only after she had exhausted all possible explanations, and was fearful for her future as a performer.
"When I realized that I could barely sing at all anymore, I was like, 'I'm humiliating myself. I can't get out there and do this. I have to stop until I figure it out,'" Twain recalled to PEOPLE. "I thought that it was just fatigue or burnout. But no — Lyme disease commonly affects the nerves. When I discovered a glimpse of hope, I ran with that."
Twain's battle with Lyme disease began she believes in 2003, when she told iHeartRadio she saw a tick fall off of her, and almost immediately began noticing symptoms. But it wasn't until she started addressing the issues with her singing did she realize there might be a connection between the two.
"I was on a long sabbatical, and my son [Eja] was getting older," Twain recalled of her time after her 2015 Rock This Country Tour. "I love being a full-time mom, but I started thinking, 'What am I going to do when I have an empty nest?' I had a problem with my voice; I was avoiding doing something about it."
Twain was grateful to find out the cause of her vocal cord issues, which was subsequently officially diagnosed as dysphonia, and begin seeking treatment, even if the treatment was arduous at times.
"It would have killed me not to be able to ever sing again," Twain reflected. "I wasn't going to let my life be over if I wasn't going to be able to sing again, but I would have been very sad and I would have mourned that forever. But it is a great love of mine and a passion — that's what got me back on stage again, because I could. Now I have more appreciation for it than ever."
Twain is singing better than ever now, which is why she is continuing her Las Vegas residency throughout 2020. Her last album, Now, was released in 2017. She is reportedly also working on new music. Find a list of all of her upcoming shows by visiting ShaniaTwain.com.
Photo Credit: Getty / Mindy Small