Natalie Cole says she has hepatitis C

July 16, 2008 7:57:11 AM PDT
Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, her publicist said in a statement Wednesday. Hepatitis C is a liver disease spread through contact with infected blood. The statement said the disease was revealed during a routine examination and was likely caused by her drug use years ago.

"I've been so fortunate to have learned so much from my past experiences," said Cole. "I am embraced by the love and support of my family and friends; I am committed to my belief in myself and in my abiding faith to meet this challenge with a heartfelt optimism and determination. This is how I intend to deal with this current challenge in my life."

Her physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Dr.

Graham Woolf, said Cole has had a "terrific response to her medication and is now virus negative."

"This gives her an increased chance of cure," he said. Woolf said Cole is recovering from side effects of the medicine she's taking, including fatigue, muscle aches and dehydration.

Cole, 58, the daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole, has sold millions of records over her long career. She is due to release "Still Unforgettable," the follow-up to 1991's Grammy-winning, multi-platinum CD "Unforgettable ... With Love," on which she remade some of her father's classics, in September.