Her mother was at a loss to explain her medical condition, and often began to cry when Madonna questioned her about it.
Madonna later acknowledged that she had not grasped the concept of her mother dying.
Madonna said of her move to New York, "It was the first time I'd ever taken a plane, the first time I'd ever gotten a taxi cab. It was the bravest thing I'd ever done." She started to work as a backup dancer for other established artists.
Madonna claimed that during a late night she was returning from a rehearsal, when a pair of men held her at knifepoint and forced her to perform fellatio.
After performing as a drummer, guitarist and vocalist in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, Madonna signed with Sire Records in 1982 and released her eponymous debut album the next year.