Dame Olivia Newton-John, the Grammy Award–winning singer and actress widely known for her lead role in the beloved movie musical Grease, passed away on Monday.
John Easterling, Newton-John’s husband, made the announcement of her death in a Facebook post from her official page. Newton-John was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 during the same weekend her father passed from cancer, according to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre.
Newton-John took her diagnosis and turned it into activism through her development of foundations dedicated to offering medical support and research in the fight against cancer.
In 1998, Oprah sat down with Newton-John for an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Above you can watch Newton-John discuss the tools that helped her prosper despite her cancer diagnosis, and not only celebrating but finding beauty in reaching 50 years old.
Oprah opened their interview emphasizing that despite battling cancer, Newton-John was not simply going through the motions of “surviving” her illness and that instead she was still taking advantage of her life fully, or as Oprah phrased it, “thriving.”
Newton-John shared with Oprah that what got her through the fight of cancer was not only having a solid medical support team but also relying on the spiritual remedies of praying and meditating. Watch the full video from The Oprah Winfrey Show above.
Newton-John also shared with Oprah the importance of acting quickly in the event of discovering any symptoms of breast cancer.
“I think that’s really important. I stress that to women, if you find a lump, go quickly. Don’t wait. You know, the faster, the better,” Newton-John said.
In the interview, Oprah talked about how great Newton-John looked at 50, but she certainly wasn’t the only one who thought so. People magazine named Newton-John one of the 50 Most Beautiful people in 1998.
Oprah and Newton-John had the chance to sit down together again in 2011 during Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure, when she brought 302 “ultimate viewers” on an eight-day trip in Australia. Above you can watch Newton-John discuss her iconic black pants, the lasting impact of Grease, and her excitement about taking her efforts to combat cancer to her home.
“Something that I’m extremely proud of and very grateful for is that I’m building a cancer and wellness center in Melbourne,” Newton-John said. Newton-John said that aside from her enthusiasm about building what would become the ONJ Centre Melbourne, it was special to her because her family and old friends were based there. Newton-John even surprised Oprah by bringing the famous black pants from Grease to their interview.
Today, the ONJ Centre provides support to patients and their loved ones while also utilizing leading medical research and “cutting edge” treatments to battle cancer.
In a tribute posted to Twitter, Oprah shared that when Newton-John came over for dinner at Oprah’s home, her strong sense of optimism was transferable to everyone.
In Easterling’s Facebook post announcing the news of Newton-John’s death, he said that instead of sending flowers, Newton-John’s family would like donations to be made to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org). The Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund supports global research efforts for utilizing the power of “plant medicine” in the journey of fighting cancer.
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