Jo Dee Messina’s Battle with Cancer Inspired Her New Music: ‘I Have Hope in My Heart’

The gravity of Jo Dee
cancer battle doesn’t necessarily hit her in the
doctor’s office or in her bedroom when she lays her head down on
the pillow after a long day.

Instead, it hits her sometimes in ordinary places, like her

“Sometimes I need help getting dishes down from the shelf,”
she admits during a recent interview with PEOPLE. “I let my kids
see my weakness as much as I let them see my joy of life.”

It’s this juggling act that so many
moms can relate to
. Yet, in Messina’s case, it’s even more
complicated considering the health struggles she continues to go

“I have wanted to be honest with the kids,” Messina — mom
to sons Noah,
9, and
, 6 — says quietly. “I want to be a safe place for
them. But I have let them see the realness of the pain and the
struggle of my surgery.”

It was September of 2017 when Messina shared
the devastating news
that she had been diagnosed with


“After being diagnosed, I was playing a winery in Missouri and
I basically said ‘FYI, this is what’s going on,’” Messina,
now 48, recalls. “It doesn’t change the fact that God is

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And while the “I’m Alright” hitmaker is still reluctant to
go into much detail in terms of her diagnosis and the treatments
she’s receiving, she admits that it has been quite the

“I’m leaning on God,” she says. “I’m letting Him take charge. It’s what’s best for my soul right now. Every biopsy and every result…it feels like an eternity goes by. I know that God has me. I’m filled with gratitude and joy.”

Jo Dee Messina's new song Reckless Love was inspired by her battle with cancer.
Jo Dee Messina’s new song “Reckless Love” was inspired by her battle with cancer.
Stephanie Orr

And it’s this gratitude and joy along with her unrelenting faith that has led to Messina to not only get back on the road, but also release new music in the form of her new single “Reckless Love.”

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“I heard this song in 2017 as part of a package from Bethel
Music and watched a version of it on YouTube,” she remembers of
the song that was written by Cory Asbury, Caleb Culver, and Ran
Jackson. “This song took the wind out of me. It was then released
to radio (by Asbury) and I was like, ‘It’s that song again.’
It resonates with my soul and my spirit, especially considering as
many mistakes I have made.”

Of course, its Messina’s struggles
with alcohol
in her past that, in part, seems to have propelled
her faith going forward into her future. And it is this faith that
kept her strong through the recording process for “Reckless

“I’ve been in the studio in pain,” she says. “On certain
days, it was hard to breath and I was barely able to stand up at
the microphone.”

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Yet, despite this, Messina has felt moved to ensure that people
hear this song. “It tells the news that people need to know, that
God provides a love that we will never understand,” she says.
“Human love is so conditional. His love isn’t.”

Of course, Messina is the first to admit that she wonders if
country radio will be open to playing such a faith-filled

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“A lot of people around me have been frightened to release it
to the country format,” she says. “I don’t have that fear.
There is someone out there that needs to hear it. I don’t care
what is current or what is going to be successful, but country
music is my home format. Why not share the message? God is not

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But for now, devoting energy to worries such as this is simply
not worth it, Messina says. Instead, the mother of two remains
steadfast in her battle with cancer.

“Today I am a little groggy,” she admits. “I teach music
to kids ages 6 to 12 outside of Nashville and I had my surgery on
Thursday. I was back teaching on Tuesday. I’m getting some of my
energy back. I think I sound good. My hope is that I do. I have
hope in my heart, so I am grateful.”

And while the road is uncertain, Messina knows she is meant for
this moment.

“I know that I took the road I was supposed to take,” she
says. “If I look back, I know that God has always been there. I
want to make sure that people know that God is good.

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