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Family

She was my escape: Taylor Swift's heartbreak over her mum's health scare

The singer reveals why family life is so delicate right now.

By Judy Kean
Taylor Swift may be one of the biggest names in the music industry right now, but there are still times when she needs her mum.
This is just one thing laid bare in the new Netflix documentary Miss Americana, which has provided plenty of insights into the singer's private life and highlighted some of her most important relationships.
Taylor and her mum Andrea at the American Country Music awards in 2015. Getty Images
There's a fleeting glimpse of Taylor with actor boyfriend Joe Alwyn (28), a scene with Abigail Lucier (29), her best friend from before she became famous, and even extensive footage of her working with Kiwi producer Joel Little (36), who co-wrote recent hits such as Me! and You Need to Calm Down.
But the behind-the-scenes doco makes it clear that the person who looms largest in her life, who is her best friend, sounding board, cheerleader and rock, is her mum, Andrea.
WATCH: Taylor Swift's 'Miss Americana' Documentary trailer. Story continues below...
The strength of their bond is responsible for some of the most poignant moments of the movie, including when Andrea (62) comforts Taylor following an emotional performance during which the Grammy winner talks to the audience about the 2017 sexual assault case she took against a man who she said groped her.
Sadly, just days before the documentary came out, Taylor (30) revealed that while Andrea was undergoing treatment for breast cancer last year, doctors discovered she also has a brain tumour.
"What a person goes through when they have a brain tumour is nothing like what we've ever been through with her cancer before. So it has been a really hard time for us as a family," the singer shared.
Because of Andrea's illness, Taylor decided not to embark on an extensive tour to promote her latest album, Lover.
"We don't know what's going to happen," she explains.
"We don't know what treatment we're going to choose. It was just the decision to make at the time, for right now, for what's going on."
Taylor first disclosed her beloved mum had breast cancer back in 2015, revealing in 2018 that it had returned.
The brain tumour is a third devastating blow for Andrea, husband Scott (67), their son Austin (27) and Taylor.
"Everybody loves their mom; everybody's got an important mom," Taylor told an interviewer recently.
"But for me, she's really the guiding force. Almost every decision I make, I talk to her about it first."
Andrea, along with Scott, has backed Taylor since she decided at age 11 that she wanted a recording contract.
The family originally lived in Pennsylvania, where Scott was an investment banker and Andrea was the marketing manager at an advertising agency, when Taylor convinced her mum to take her to Nashville so she could hand-deliver CDs of her singing to country music record labels.
"My mom waited in the car with my little brother while I knocked on doors up and down Music Row," recalls Taylor.
"I would say, 'Hi, I'm Taylor, I'm 11; I want a record deal. Call me.'"
Unfortunately, nobody called. But the trip convinced Taylor she needed to upskill.
She immediately set about learning to play the guitar, choosing a 12-string version because she thought it was cool. Her mother warned that her hands were too small but she played for four hours a day until her fingers bled.
"You don't ever say never or can't do to Taylor," says Andrea.
Performing whenever she could and spending many hours writing her own songs, Taylor went back to Nashville at 13 and landed a development deal at RCA Records. The whole family then relocated to Tennessee.
"I knew I was the reason they were moving but they tried to put no pressure on me. They were like, 'Oh, we need a change of scenery,'" says Taylor.
"I never wanted to make that move about her 'making it'," adds Andrea.
"Because what a horrible thing if it hadn't happened, for her to carry that kind of guilt around."
Taylor describes her mum as her "guiding force". Image: Getty
Although her dreams were on the way to becoming reality, life wasn't easy for a teenage Taylor.
Bullied and excluded by her so-called friends, it was Andrea who got her through those tough times.
Taylor says, "She was my only friend when I was 13 and couldn't understand why my friends were being mean to me.
"She would take me on adventures and we would drive around and go to towns we'd never been to before. You're not supposed to run away from your problems, but when you're 13 and your friends move away when you sit down at the lunch table, and your mom lets you run from those problems, I think it's a good thing. She was my escape."
When Taylor's career took off and she started touring, Andrea travelled with her, helping her finish her high school studies while on the road. Until the last few years, either she or Scott were at all of Taylor's shows.
And the devoted daughter credits her mum with teaching her the importance of giving her all to whatever she does, and to shaping the person she is.
"She raised me to be logical and practical. I was brought up with such a strong woman in my life and I think that had a lot to do with me not wanting to do anything halfway."

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