Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie was in the middle of writing the band’s latest album, Now for Plan A, when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

While the songs on the album seem to range over a variety of themes, including "keeping it real," Downie says dealing with cancer was at the heart of many of them.

"It cleared my mind. It focused my attention. It focused everything," he said in the interview with CBC's Wendy Mesley.

Downie talks to Mesley about how he had to change his songwriting after the diagnosis and the true meaning of songs such as The Lookahead, At Transformation and Man Machine Poem.