Olivia Newton-John has led a full life – and at 70, she’s not ready to call it a day, even after being diagnosed for a third time with cancer.
She stormed into Americans’ consciousness with 1974’s No. 1 album “If You Love Me, Let Me Know” (followed up in ’75 with the chart-topping “Have You Never Been Mellow”). Then, in 1978, Newton-John became a household name as Sandy in “Grease” with heartthrob John Travolta. (The movie soundtrack also reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts.)
Her life, however, has not been all hot tea and vegemite. A native of Cambridge, England, Newton-John and her family emigrated to Australia in 1954, when she was 6 years old. She recorded her first record in 1966. Less than a decade later, she had the first of 10 No. 1 hits, including seven consecutively:
- “I Honestly Love You” (1974)
- “Have You Never Been Mellow”
- “Please Mr. Please” (1975)
- “Something Better to Do” (1975)
- “Let It Shine”/”He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”
- “Come on Over” (1976)
- “Don’t Stop Believin’” (1976)
Her other top-of-the-chart songs are “Physical,” “Magic,” and “You’re the One That I Want.”
“Grease” was Newton-John’s first major film role. She followed that with “Xanadu” and a number of other less memorable movies. Currently, Newton-John is filming “The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee,” according to imdb.com.
It’s been almost three decades since Newton-John was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Her first round with the disease was in 1992. Twenty-one years later, in 2013, she was secretly diagnosed again. Her most recent cancer diagnosis was in 2017.
The breast cancer has now metastasized to her back. Newton-John is using prescription drugs and holistic treatments,including medical marijuana, to fight the disease.
Newton-John’s first memoir, “Don’t Stop Believin’”, was released March 12.
‘No one dies from cannbis’
Despite her health issues and personal life being in the spotlight, Newton-John said she has learned perspective. “I’m fearful sometimes and I’m sad and I go through moments like that. I’m human and you have to allow yourself to go through it. You can’t go around it,” she said.
“The only way to get to the other side is you have to go through the feelings. I go through my moments, but I will pray or meditate or do something in nature that brings me peace. I remind myself that it’s all a gift and that’s really all you can do because we don’t know when our time’s up no matter if you’re sick or you’re not.” (1)
Newton-John is married to John Easterling, CEO of Amazon Herb Company. In 2011, Easterling and Newton-John jointly received the inaugural SAFE Water Award for their efforts to preserve Amazon’s purity. (2) In 2012, the couple was awarded with the ACEER Legacy Award for their efforts to preserve Amazon rainforests and for supporting environmental protection. (3)
As a two-time cancer survivor, Newton-John admits she was hesitant to try medical cannabis – but Easterling’s insight soothed her concerns. “He grows it for me and makes it for me and explains everything to me. When I started using it, I got such benefits, especially with pain.
“… It’s made such a difference in my world that I needed less help with painkillers because the cannabis was doing it for me. I’m very grateful for it and I really do think it should be available for everyone. No one dies from cannabis. You die from opioids.” (4)
Following Alex Trebek’s announcement that he has Stage IV pancreatic cancer, Newton-John reached out to her fellow celeb. “I sent him a message saying, ‘I know you can get through this,’and, ‘Don’t listen to Stage IV and all of [that’,” she said. “Don’t read the statistics and stay focused and see how you can heal yourself. That helps.”
Newton-John said on the “TODAY” show that her 2013 cancer had been kept a secret “because of the speculation, which happened at times.” (5)
According to breastcancer.org, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed, along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
About 41,760 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2019 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer. (6)
And men, you’re at risk, too. About 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2019. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.
(1) Lexy Perez. The Hollywood Reporter. Olivia Newton-John Talks First Memoir and Cancer Battle: “I’m Doing Well.”https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/olivia-newton-john-talks-first-memoir-cancer-battle-1193525
(2) Stroud Water Research Center. https://stroudcenter.org/waters-edge/newton-john-john-easterling/
(3) American Botanical Council. http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue101/HG101-orgnews-aceerduke.html
(4) Lexy Perez. The Hollywood Reporter. Olivia Newton-John Talks First Memoir and Cancer Battle: “I’m Doing Well.”https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/olivia-newton-john-talks-first-memoir-cancer-battle-1193525
(5) Natalie Morales interview with Olivia Newton-John. https://www.today.com/video/watch-olivia-newton-john-s-full-interview-with-natalie-morales-1455610947796
(6) U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics. https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics