Nearly two months after revealing the news of her cancer diagnosis, Ashley Monroe is offering fans an update on her health. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the Grammy-nominated singer shares that she is faring well and remaining optimistic after two cycles of chemotherapy, but also that she's being extremely cautious in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and still has a long road ahead of her.

“They say it’s for life,” Monroe says of her rare type of blood cancer, Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. “I’m in a slight sliver of denial-slash-hopefulness that maybe I won’t have to hear about it. Maybe it’s one of those things I’ll have, and it won’t affect my blood like it had been after [I receive] these treatments.”

Monroe, both a solo artist and a member of the Pistol Annies, first shared word of her prognosis via Instagram on July 13. The positivity she conveyed then remains with her now, and she says the ordeal is “doing some long-term good to who I am as a person.”

“The biggest change has been this overall acceptance and surrender of control that it turns out I probably very much needed anyway," Monroe says. "Oddly enough, I’m calmer now than I ever was. I’m more in the moment, and I can clearly see what matters and what doesn’t.”

Still, with chemo compromising her immune system and the risk of COVID-19 in mind, Monroe is being extra careful these days: She says she is “literally just at home every day.”

“What my doctors have stressed to me now,” Monroe says, “[is that] my biggest danger is getting an infection or getting sick, even getting a cold, just because my immune system is so low. That’s what I’ve been told: Just don’t get sick.”

Nonetheless, Monroe says her latest lab tests indicate that her blood levels are improving, so she is remaining active musically. She recently released a new EP: a collaborative project with producer Tyler Cain entitled The Covers. The five-song collection, which also features rising newcomer Brittney Spencer and singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly, was finalized during the course of Monroe’s cancer treatment. It follows her fifth studio album, Rosegold, which arrived in April.

Monroe has also continued exercising, although she discloses that the day-to-day discomfort of her illness and chemo has put a new strain on her active lifestyle. “I’ve been working out pretty much like normal the past two weeks, but my veins, it feels like someone’s taken a razor to whichever veins they use for chemo," she shares.

"Your instinct is like, it makes you a little mad — like, 'How dare you? My veins hurt!' Weird things like that, but also knowing that my body’s so tough, and even if they have to put it in the most painful one, I’ll be fine," Monroe reflects. "It’s weird, but I’m stronger than I thought, and most of us are, for sure.”

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