Olivia Newton-John battled breast cancer for 30 years – NBC News
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For 30 years, Olivia Newton-John publicly shared her fight with breast cancer, her treatments and her never-ending hope.
Newton-John, who was first diagnosed in 1992, focused on building a life outside the disease and embracing a mindset that prioritized family, enlightenment and the promise of alternative medicine.
“Cancer can engulf your mind and engulf your being,” she told NBC’s “TODAY” show in 2020. “And I try not to live my life with that in my mind all the time.”
Newton-John died at 73 at her Southern California home, her family said Monday.
“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” John Easterling, her husband, wrote Monday in announcing her death. “Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.”
Newton-John said she was initially diagnosed the same weekend her father died of cancer.
Her decadeslong fight included a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and breast reconstruction, Newton-John said. By 2020, she was facing stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, her third bout with the disease since 1992.
Newton-John, who rose to fame in the late 1970s and the early ’80s after having stolen hearts in the blockbuster “Grease” alongside John Travolta, was committed to cancer research, raising money for decades and opening the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Australia in 2015 under a partnership between a local hospital and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.
In recent years, she was a vocal advocate for plant-based treatments and pushed the medical community to take them more seriously She used cannabis, she said, but the world of alternative medicine was much more than that.
She wanted a breakthrough.
“Plants and herbs that my husband has introduced me to … helped strengthen my body,” she told “TODAY.”
Newton-John called Easterling “Amazon John” for his knowledge of exotic medicinal herbs.
Newton-John hoped the research she funded would help the medical community “know what works,” she told “TODAY.” “That’s the dream.”
She wanted to bring an alternative path that might include herbs and Eastern medicine to others. “We are in a world desperate for healing,” she wrote.
She also believed in the power of positive thinking and its effect on healing and recovery, and she often shared her optimism with the world.
Newton-John lived nearly a third of her life fighting cancer, but she never let go of the promise for tomorrow.
“I live beyond it,” she told “TODAY.” “I love beyond it. I sing beyond it. And I want that for everybody.”
Dennis Romero is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.
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