Olivia Newton-John, who died at the age of 73, bravely fought a very public battle with cancer for three decades.
Her battle began in 1992 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She immediately began advocating for research into the disease.
In 2013, twenty-one years after her initial diagnosis, doctors discovered she also had cancer in her shoulder. However, Newton-John chose to keep this second diagnosis quiet from her family, friends and fans.
“The first time I talked about it, and the second time I thought, ‘I don’t really need to share this’… It’s my life. I decided to keep it to myself,” she told Australia’s “Sunday Night” of her decision to remain silent.
However, by May 2017, the “Grease” star discovered that her breast cancer had returned and had spread to her sacrum.
The singer, who was in the middle of a concert tour, had postponed the first half due to severe back pain from what she believed to be sciatica.
However, tests revealed that it was actually cancer that spread and formed a tumor at the base of her spine. The tumor caused a fractured sacrum and a fractured pelvis.
“There were all these things I was going to do for my birthday, but God had other plans,” she told People at the time after explaining she had to cancel a big party to celebrate her 70th birthday.
“Of course I had my moments, and my tears and all,” she added, explaining how the third cancer attack affected her mental health. “But I have a wonderful husband who supports me through those things.”
She also treated her illness with a combination of natural treatments, including sugar removal and the use of medicinal cannabis tinctures from plants her husband, John Easterling, grew on their California property.
After her initial cancer diagnosis, Newton-John founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Research Center in her hometown of Melbourne. Her advocacy for research and better treatment will be a big part of her legacy, as will her storied singing career.
On Monday, after 30 years of battling the disease, Newton-John died surrounded by family.
“Olivia has been a symbol of triumph and hope for over 30 years for sharing her journey with breast cancer,” a statement read on her Facebook page. “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.”