Olivia Newton-John is a woman of tremendous talent – but, unfortunately, not as much luck. Health problems have persistently dogged the singer and actress, for instance. And in 2018 the star was yet again forced to make a revelation about her wellbeing.
Newton-John has led a fascinating life. And while the star is arguably most famous for her performance in Grease – the teen movie sensation that catapulted her into the mainstream – that’s not all that she is known for. Her 1981 track “Physical” and its accompanying music video, for example, hold strong places in popular culture to this very day.
Newton-John’s personal life has been the cause of considerable headlines, too. In 1984 she married for the first time to her co-star in the movie Xanadu, Matt Lattanzi. That relationship didn’t last, however, as after having a daughter, Chloe, the pair ended their union in 1995. Then, after her divorce, Newton-John encountered cameraman Patrick McDermott – who would later vanish in mysterious circumstances.
McDermott disappeared at sea in 2005 after having dated Newton-John for almost a decade. Some subsequently assumed he was dead, while others thought that he had faked his death; Newton-John was never considered a suspect in the incident, however. And in 2008, the actress moved on.
In a secret ceremony that year, Newton-John married John Easterling, the president of a homeopathic business called Amazon Herb Company. The wedding took place with no one else present, though, and the couple didn’t publicly announce their marriage until several weeks after the ceremony had taken place.
But despite Newton-John’s personal and professional success, there have been some difficult times for the star. In 1992, for instance, she was told that she had breast cancer – a diagnosis that happened to have been given on the same weekend that her father passed away.
At around this time, Newton-John had been preparing for a big moment in her career: her first tour in ten years. Unfortunately, though, the diagnosis meant that she had to cancel the gigs. And instead of rehearsing her show, she began cancer treatment. In particular, the star had chemotherapy and underwent a procedure known as a modified radical mastectomy.
Then, in May 1998, Newton-John gave an interview to Susan G. Komen in which she discussed her desire to raise awareness of cancer; the actress also revealed that she had been given the all-clear from the disease five years previously. During the interview, Newton-John claimed, “Some say, ‘Oh, you’re in remission,’ but I answer, ‘No, this is over and done. It’s behind me.’”
Unfortunately, though, the star was wrong. In 2013 Newton-John was undergoing treatment following a car accident. During this period, however, doctors discovered that cancer had returned in her shoulder. So, once again, Newton-John had to tackle the disease. And the actress had to deal with yet another tragedy, too; her sister Rona, who had been battling a brain tumor, died in May that year.
As Newton-John took on treatment for cancer for the second time, she decided not to tell the press. She continued her advocacy work for breast cancer charities, however, and evidence of her achievements can be seen in two important things bearing her name: the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and the LIV Kit, a device that helps women.
Being diagnosed with cancer twice is the stuff of nightmares for a lot of people. But, sadly, Newton-John’s fight still wasn’t over. Appearing on the Australian TV show Sunday Night in September 2018, she explained that the cancer had returned. This time, a tumor had been located towards the bottom of her spine.
After being asked during the appearance if she was scared, Newton-John replied, “No, I don’t go there.” Then, however, she corrected herself, saying, “I’d be lying if I said I never go there. There are moments, I’m human. If I allowed myself to go there, I could easily create that big fear. But my husband’s always there, and he’s there to support me.”
Newton-John also spoke in the interview about why she had decided to keep her second fight with cancer a secret from the media. “The first time I talked about it, and the second time I thought I didn’t really need to share this. It’s not something I need to share with people,” she explained. “It’s my life, and I decided to keep it to myself.”
And the star stated her belief that she would overcome her illness, while also describing some of the measures she was taking this time around. Specifically, she was having radiation therapy, using cannabis oil to help with the pain and eating as healthily as possible. The treatments, she said, were “doing really well.”
Newton-John’s cannabis oil had come from plants grown by her husband in California, where the use of cannabis use is legal; Australia, however, has no law allowing for the use of marijuana either medically or recreationally. “My dream is that, in Australia soon, it will be available to all the cancer patients and people going through cancer that causes pain,” Newton-John said during her Sunday Night interview.
However, Newton-John’s dream may just be edging closer to reality. The Australian state of New South Wales actually began trials of medicinal marijuana in 2015 in order to see if the substance had any effect on epilepsy in children. Furthermore, the Australian public would seemingly back cannabis’ decriminalization, with a 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey suggesting that a majority of citizens in the country supported such a move.
Meanwhile, fans and friends of Newton-John took to social media to express their support following the revelations on television. For instance, Marie Osmond wrote to her fellow singer on Twitter, saying, “I love you and your strength. Continue staying positive and shining such a bright light, and we will pray you keep getting better all the time!”
And despite her current difficulties, Newton-John is still up and about. On September 15 she spoke at the annual Melbourne Wellness Walk and Research Run, which raises money to support the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre. In fact, the turnout was the biggest ever seen for the event.
Newton-John and her husband were both present for the occasion, and the actress also gave some quotes to be published on the center’s website. “It’s very moving actually, to see so many people turn out,” she said. “It shows more and more people are becoming aware of how important it is – especially to this community and all of Melbourne.”
So, while it is undoubtedly sad to see Newton-John fighting a battle that seems to be never-ending, it is equally promising to see her so optimistic. It must be said, though, that she doesn’t actually like the “fight” metaphor. “A lot of people see it as a fight, and wherever you choose to see it, that’s your prerogative,” she stated during the Sunday Night interview. “I see it as part of my mission.”