05:45 PM EDT 10/21/2013

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Coping and Overcoming Illness

Credit: Matthew Rolston
Natalie Cole: 'My Life Crumbled Before My Eyes'

Natalie Cole: 'My Life Crumbled Before My Eyes'

Originally posted 09/11/2008 11:40AM

After revealing in July that she has hepatitis C, Grammy winner Natalie Cole is opening up about the agonizing treatment she's getting for the liver disease.

"I give myself a weekly injection of chemotherapy in my thigh," Cole, 58, tells PEOPLE in its new issue. "When I started in May, I thought I was dying. I couldn't get out of bed for three weeks – literally. I was nauseous every day. I lost 15 pounds from not eating."

Doctors diagnosed the disease in April after a routine blood test. They say Cole likely contracted hepatitis C – which remained dormant in her body for 25 years – from sharing dirty needles when she was a heroin addict in the early '80s. "My life crumbled before my eyes," she tells PEOPLE.

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