Living with stage 4 cancer hasn't broken Olivia Newton-John's optimistic spirit

By Dave Quinn
August 06, 2019 08:55 AM

If her years of facing cancer have taught Olivia Newton-John anything, it’s to embrace every day.

The 70-year-old actress and singer sat down with 60 Minutes Australia on Sunday, where she opened up about how cancer has taught her to live every moment to the fullest.

I’m so lucky that I’ve been through this three times and I’m still here,” Newton-John said. “I’m living with it. It’s just reinforced my gratitude.”

“We know we’re gonna die at some point and we don’t know when it is,” the Grease star said. “When you’re given a cancer diagnosis or a scary honest diagnosis, you’re suddenly given a possibility of a time limit. The truth is, you could get hit by a truck tomorrow. So every day is a gift, particularly now.”

Newton-John is treating stage 4 breast cancer, her third time facing the disease. She was first diagnosed in 1992 and also secretly overcame it again in 2013. But in May 2017, she was told the cancer had metastasized and spread to her bones.

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Olivia Newton-John
60 Minutes Australia
Olivia Newton-John
60 Minutes Australia

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Though the cancer is now more aggressive than ever, Newton-John said she still believes she can “win.”

“I’m getting strong again, so I’m good,” she said on 60 Minutes Australia. “I’m back to full force again.”

Part of keeping a positive outlook means ignoring estimates about her life expectancy from doctors.

“I don’t read statistics,” Newton-John said. “If you believe the statistics, you’re going to make it happen. If somebody tells you, you have six months to live, very possibly you will because you believe that. So for me, psychologically, it’s better not to have any idea of what they expect or what the last person that has what you have lived, so I don’t — I don’t tune in. It’s just better for me. ”

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To that end, cancer, Newton-John said, is not a fight.

‘It’s something I’m living with,” the “Physical” singer said on 60 Minutes Australia. “I see it as something in my body I’m getting rid of. I don’t talk about a battle or a war, because I think that sets up that kind of feeling in your body like you’re battling something strange inside you. I let it go and tell it to leave and talk to my body to heal itself and don’t try to make it that. Because that takes up your whole life and your whole being.”

“I kind of have a way of dissociating and compartmentalizing it,” she added. “Otherwise, you become a victim, which I don’t want to be and am not. Or you become a slave to it, and talk about it all the time, which I try not to do either.”

Olivia Newton-John and John Easterling
David Livingston/Getty

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Treatment, for Newton-John, is made up of a combination of holistic treatments that include herbs and medicinal cannabis to help with the pain, as well as oral cancer medication prescribed by her oncologist.

She is being supported and cared for by John Easterling, her husband of 10 years.

Spiritual meditations have helped as well. “In my meditations, I visualize it leaving and see the herbs and the medicines that I’m taking making it go,” she told 60 Minutes Australia.

How does she look at death? “A long way away,” Newton-John said.

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