The Grease star shared the sad news that Emma Cohen — a nurse at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre — died earlier this month

By Katie Campione
April 28, 2021 11:53 PM
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Olivia Newton-John
Credit: Olivia Newton-John/instagram

Olivia Newton-John is mourning the loss of her cancer nurse.

The Grease star, 72, shared the sad news that Emma Cohen — a nurse at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre — died earlier this month.

In a heartfelt Instagram post shared Tuesday, Newton-John wrote that her "heart is still in shock and so saddened to learn of the sudden loss of the very special Emma Cohen."

She added that Cohen had taken care of her "at a very vulnerable time" in her life when she was a patient on the nurse's unit at the ONJ Cancer Centre in 2018.

"She ensured my stay was safe and comfortable, always had practical advice for me, showed strong leadership skills and had a great sense of humor," Newton-John explained under a photo of the two of them together at the cancer centre.

"She was a bright, energetic and powerful woman with a huge future ahead of her, and we connected on our mission to help patients on their cancer journey."

RELATED VIDEO: Olivia Newton-John Is 'Feeling Great' 3 Years After Cancer Diagnosis — and Looking Forward To Daughter Chloe's Wedding

She concluded, "Emma had such a generous spirit and a warm and loving heart - I will miss seeing her lovely face at the Centre and send my love and deepest condolences to her friends and family."

Newton-John did not say the cause of Cohen's death. A Facebook post from the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia, where Cohen served as board director, said that she died after a "short illness" on April 9.

"Emma was a vibrant and passionate leader, and a fierce and intelligent advocate for the cancer nursing workforce, and her patients," the CNSA wrote on social media. "Her loss has left a huge gap in our community, and in our hearts."

Newton-John was first diagnosed in 1992 and overcame cancer again in 2013. In May 2017, she was told cancer had metastasized and spread to her bones.

Olivia Newton-John and Daughter Chloe
Olivia Newton-John and Daughter Chloe Lattanzi

However, the actress told reporters last year at G'Day USA in Beverly Hills, California, that she doesn't see it "as a battle."

"I'm winning over it well and that's how I see it," she said. "I don't think about it a lot, to be honest. Denial is a really good thing and I'm getting stronger and better all the time! I'm doing well!"

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In February, she told PEOPLE that she had been "feeling great" — so much so that she and her husband John Easterling launched their Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund in order to continue to support research into plant medicine for cancer.

"I'm so lucky to still be doing all these things," Newton-John told PEOPLE. "I don't think I imagined living this long! I feel very blessed."