This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com.
Kelly Clarkson was emotional the night she won her first Grammys — but it wasn’t because her dreams had come true.
That year, the American Idol alum, now 34, was nominated for — and won — the Best Pop Vocal album and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance honors for her hit album Breakaway and smash single “Since U Been Gone.”
“I go the whole day, and I like completely cried; they had to redo my make up like four times. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m so young’ and was completely freaking out,” Clarkson recalls of braving Music’s Biggest Night as she struggled internally with her grim diagnosis.
“When I won, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is God, he’s like giving me one cool thing before something horrible happens.’ Nobody knew because obviously I didn’t want to talk about it,” she added.
But the day after the ’06 Grammys — which she calls “the worst-greatest day” — Clarkson received some good news.
“I went [to the doctor] the next day, and they apologized for mixing up results. I was like, ‘Are you for real?! You completely ruined my entire…’ You know, first time for an artist, as a kid watching the Grammys, that’s a big dream. It was kind of the worst greatest day. And then the next day, also was the worst greatest day because I wanted to like punch someone,” she adds with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Who mixes up results?’ And why wouldn’t we test again?”
While Clarkson is grateful she wasn’t sick, she regrets not being able to relish her triumphant night, where she also sang her hit “Because of You.”
“It was very much a rollercoaster ride that day for me,” she says. “It was kind of unfortunate — a lot of the moments got stolen from that mishap. But hey, I didn’t have cancer … You’d think it would have been the greatest night ever for an artist. It was this joke … like, ‘I keep winning.’ You think, ‘How did I beat Bonnie Raitt and a Beatle?’ I was like, ‘I’m totally gonna die. This is my last hurrah, or something.’ I was so dramatic about it because I was twenty-something and scared. It was so weird. I don’t remember anything but being terrified. It was such a crap thing that happened because that whole moment got taken away.”
Sunday, at the 59th Grammy Awards, Clarkson is up for another award for the emotional live American Idol version of her ballad “Piece by Piece.” In the Best Pop Vocal Performance category, she’s nominated alongside Adele (“Hello”), Beyoncé (“Hold Up”), Justin Bieber (“Love Yourself”) and Ariana Grande (“Dangerous Woman”).
“[It’s] always nice to be in the same category as Adele and Beyoncé,” Clarkson quipped on the Billboard podcast, later adding: “I’m against Adele and Beyoncé, so I don’t foresee me winning … Those are all fantastic performers and artists, so I think that’s my favorite part. I think you win when you’re put in the same category as people you think are super-talented … I’ve won a few Grammys — I feel fulfilled. If I win or if I don’t win, I kinda still feel like a winner. That sounds like a Hallmark answer, but it’s true.”
The 59th Grammy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.