Exactly one year ago, Melissa Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgery to remove the disease was successful, but she says she felt close to death during radiation and chemotherapy treatments. During that time, she reflected on what was important in her life and she put those feelings into songs, which appear on her new greatest hits album.


Melissa Etheridge included her version of Janis Joplin's 1968 classic "Piece of My Heart" on her new greatest hits album, The Road Less Traveled. After battling breast cancer, she made a brave return to the public spotlight on this year's Grammy Awards, where she performed the song with British singer Joss Stone. Completely bald from chemotherapy treatments, Melissa was welcomed back with a standing ovation. She explains how the disease has influenced her songwriting.

"The cancer did shine a whole lot of light on a lot of corners of my life that were covered up before,"she admits, "and so my writing comes from what I know what I feel. So, now my writing is deeper, there's more hope, there's more fear, there's more thought and pain and all kinds of things."

The Road Less Traveled also includes Melissa's version of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Refugee," three new original tracks and 12 of her previous hits. Melissa explains why she waited 17 years to release her first greatest hits album.

"It's a funny place," she says. "I remember thinking when I was much younger, greatest hits [albums] were for people who were done with their career. And it was kind of like, OK this defines the first part of my career and here I go into the next part. And that's what I felt like. The record company had come to me a couple times in the last four or five years and I was like, 'no, no, no, I'm not ready.' I wanted to put 'Skin' out. I wanted to put 'Lucky' out. I had all this new music coming up, and then finally, last year, I went 'yeah, I think this is a good time, right now.'"

"I'm The Only One," "Come To My Window" and "I Want To Come Over" are a few of the fan favorites on Melissa's new anthology. Although she's now cancer free, Etheridge wants to make sure she has the energy to tour in support of the collection. She says it will most likely be mid-2006 before her fans get the chance to see her perform live. So, what does Melissa plan to do in the meantime?

"I'm really in the space of just kind of waiting to see what comes along next," she explains, "because I've been making plans for a long time and life keeps happening to me. So, I'm like, OK, I will show up every day and do what's in front of me and as the new things come along, you'll hear about them."

The Ford Corporation has raised more than $80 million to lead America's efforts for cancer research. The automobile manufacturer asked Melissa to write a song for the breast cancer awareness campaign, Race For The Cure. That song has just been released as the first single from The Road Less Traveled. It's called "I Run For Life."