After a 30-year battle with breast cancer, Olivia Newton-John died Monday at the age of 73.
The ‘Grease’ actress and singer has been fighting breast cancer publicly since 1992, undergoing a partial mastectomy, nine months of chemotherapy and breast reconstruction.
Newton-John – who became an advocate for breast cancer detection – was diagnosed again in 2013, but fought it privately, only revealing in 2018 that it had returned in 2017.
The Australian actress announced that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that had spread to the base of her spine.
The ‘Physical’ singer shared over the years how she coped with the treatments and how she coped with her pain, including talking openly about using cannabis oil after being introduced to it by her husband, John Easterling.
“I really believe the cannabis has made a huge difference,” she told “60 Minutes Australia” in 2019. “If I don’t take the drops, I can feel the pain, so I know it’s working.”
“People have this vision from the ’60s of people just hanging out and getting stoned,” she told “Today” in 2017. “It’s not about that. This plant is a medicinal plant. I think we have the vision of what it has had to change because it has helped me a lot and it helps with pain and inflammation.”
Newton-John said she started using cannabis after breaking her sacrum in September 2018, which left her learning to walk and experiencing excruciating pain. She treated it with morphine at first, but stopped herself using cannabis, increasing it slowly until she was 100% off the opioid.
“I’m off the painkillers completely, I’m off the morphine completely, and I attribute that to the cannabis because it could take over the pain,” she told Britain’s You Magazine in March 2021.
Newton-John used her illness to help others and even opened her own public hospital – the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Center in Melbourne, Australia – in 2012. She raised money for the center by displaying “Grease” memorabilia. auction — including the famous leather outfit she wore in the movie, an item that sold for $405,000.
Newton-John and her husband set up the Newton-John Foundation in 2020 to fund research into the ways cannabis and other plant products can help people.
The 1970s pop icon first writes of beating cancer through not just chemotherapy, but by working on her overall holistic approach to well-being—which her treatment center provides—and through positive thinking.
After her cancer came back for the third time, the actress said she told doctors she didn’t want to know how long she had to live.
“When you get a cancer diagnosis or a scary honest diagnosis, you suddenly get the option of a time limit,” she explained to “60 Minutes Australia.” “If someone tells you, ‘You have six months to live’, it’s entirely possible that you’re doing it because you believe it. So for me it’s psychologically better to have no idea what they’re expecting or what the last person is to have what you’ve lived, so I’m not doing it, I’m not tuning in.”
The ‘Grease’ legend died Monday morning at her Southern California ranch, surrounded by family and friends after a long battle with cancer.
Newton-John’s death was announced Monday on her official Facebook page in a statement.
“Olivia has been a symbol of triumph and hope for more than 30 years for sharing her journey with breast cancer,” it read. “Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience in plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, which is dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.”