Having battled cancer and Crohn's disease, Anastacia tells Chrissy Illey about the bodyguard who was just what the doctor ordered – and reveals why she won't live a lie any more about her age
ANASTACIA is sitting in a dark corner of a bar yet she seems to light it up. She exudes softness. We know her for her strength and her survivor spirit. She battled Crohn's disease and cancer in a 'Survivor Chick' T-shirt. We know her powerhouse anthems 'I'm Outta Love' and 'Left Outside Alone'. We know her as a woman who didn't need looking after, yet today she's surrendered to that. Today she is showing us the fuzzy warmth of a woman in love.
Last year in a story straight out of a Whitney Houston movie she married her British bodyguard, Wayne Newton. Now she's moving here to be near Newton's sons. "I'm renting but I like to say I'm squatting. It's so much sexier. We're not buying a place yet until we know where the market's going." She's unstoppable when she starts talking about her husband. They've worked together since 2004, but it certainly wasn't love at first sight.
"In fact I didn't even like him. I was going to sack him because I thought he was far too cocky for me. He's worked with Madonna, Mariah, Brad Pitt, Mary J, Toni Braxton – all the divas. He had a well respected career and then he found me. Of course nothing like this had ever happened before with him."
Did her relationship creep up on her then? "No, I wish it crept up. It was more of a slap in the face. I'd never thought about him in that way. For a start he was working for me. That's a no-no. And he was in a relationship with the mother of his boys, who are now 12 and five. I knew he wasn't happy in that relationship. Sometimes on the tour bus he would talk about things, although not inappropriately.
"He left his relationship and I was also single, but we were friends. I tried to be there for him, but one day I found all of a sudden butterflies would happen. Suddenly there weren't any other people for us not to think about each other."
All that was about to change and for the first time in her life she felt safe enough to allow someone to look after her. "Halfway through my last tour my father died. I had written some of my best songs about him (such as 'Left Outside Alone'] but I never told people it was about my dad leaving me."
Her father, Robert Newkirk, left Anastacia's mum Diane, older sister Shawn and younger brother Brian when she was three. "He was a manic depressive. The last time I contacted him I was in my early teens. I had all these unanswered questions in my heart. In a way, once I got cancer and you wonder about whether you are going to be living or not living, I wrote that song. I had a hard time singing it on tour knowing that the questions were never going to be answered, but in a way, when he passed, although I felt saddened, I felt enlightened. I could love him again. I can talk about him."
Newton has had a huge impact on Anastacia's life. It's made her happy in so many ways. For a start, she announces: "I am happy to say that I'm about to be 40. In the past I've always lied about my age. It started with my first record company. I was in my late twenties but they decided I should be four years younger."
At the time she went along with it not really thinking about its implications. "I didn't realise I was always going to be four years older. Every interview I had to rethink when I was born, how old my brothers and sisters needed to be, what music I was supposed to have liked. I even did an interview with my sister and she had to lie about her age as well."
At the time she probably had no idea that she would stay famous and that her age would stay a lie. "I tried to correct it by not telling people my age. I would just say I'm in my thirties. But that was embarrassing as well because people would wonder what I was hiding. I am thrilled that I can be 40. It's not like I can't sing higher notes or that I have more wrinkles. I have made a complete new start with a new record label and they are really comfortable with where I am right now."
When she got breast cancer in 2003 she was actually 35. "But my pretend age was 31. That was the point when I thought I don't care that it's a lie because people thought younger people didn't get cancer, but there were tons of young women who wrote to me who had cancer.
"It wasn't hereditary. I felt it was caused by environment and stress-related disorders. I felt I needed to be the voice for that and I still do because nobody wants to speak out at that age – they are still trying to figure out how to speak in general. They are still young ladies trying to find themselves. Stress is a huge factor in certain kinds of cancer, but doctors can't specifically use that as a clinical diagnosis."
Anastacia has to avoid red meat and, when she was younger, could not eat nuts and berries, because they would trigger a Crohn's attack. She grew up with Crohn's and her teenage years were spent on drugs looking bloated. And just when I tell her she's a superwoman to have survived all this, she tells me: "I was diagnosed with a heart condition – supraventricular tachycardia. First of all they thought it was panic attacks because I was having palpitations, but it wasn't, and it can just come on when I'm sitting watching TV. They said you can take a pill or have an operation. I said, 'Enough operations for me big daddy, I'll take the pill'. It's supposed to make me fatigued but I've had none of that. I'm always an energetic bunny. I think marriage has a great effect all over everything."
Does she feel that having children would be trying to be superwoman and have it all? "To be honest with you I really do feel like I do have it all. I feel that having a kid would be less. In my world right now I've got everything as perfect as it can be. I don't want to ruin the recipe."
• Anastacia appears on Divas II, ITV1, November 23, 8pm for the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month