Olivia Newton John is battling stage IV breast cancer. We heard almost two years ago that she was dealing with breast cancer for a second time after successfully treating it in the early 90s. She canceled her tour in the summer of 2017, revealing that her cancer had metastasized to her back. The cancer has since come back since then. Despite everything she says she’s grateful and doing well. Olivia also released a memoir last month. Her husband of 11 years, John Easterling, grows marijuana for her and she credits it with helping her condition. Olivia also says that she’s a positive person and we creates own own reality.
At 70, the icon is battling stage IV breast cancer for the third time, but with the support of her friends and family – especially husband John Easterling – she’s ready to fight and isn’t letting anything get her down.
“I feel lucky that I’m experiencing it for a third time, you know? You have to find the silver lining; there’s good in every bad situation,” the singer says in the latest issue of Us Weekly. “I’m very positive. I’m human, I have my moments of fear and anxiety like everybody does, but generally I choose to be positive because you create your world by what you think. And if you think dark thoughts, you’re going to create a dark world. If you think positive thoughts, you’ll create a positive world around yourself and attract positive people to you. I’m very lucky in all those areas; I have the best husband in the world and the best daughter. I’m lucky.”
The Grease star battled breast cancer in 1992 and underwent a partial mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. She was diagnosed again in 2013 and a third time in 2018.
Newton-John’s husband has been extremely helpful during her battle – “he’s brilliant,” she tells Us – and has helped her with treatment; they are both advocates for using cannabis to heal.
“My husband grows it for me – in California you can do that. He’s made me incredible tinctures that have helped me with pain, sleep and anxiety, and there are thousands of studies now on the healing properties of cannabis and how they’re discovering it,” the “Physical” singer says. “It will, eventually, be accepted as healing many diseases.”
I’m of two minds about Olivia’s focus on positivity. One is that I think there’s too much emphasis in American culture on staying positive at all costs, especially when it comes to chronic illness. Let people feel their feelings and be mad and sad sometimes, you know? The other is that Olivia Newton John is a sweet woman with that type of personality who is going through some sh-t. She’s not telling anyone how to live their lives, she’s just telling people what works for her and her own personal outlook. Also, it’s true that staying positive, grateful and joyful helps create a better reality for yourself.
Also, I’m to hear that Olivia is doing well, but I’m still worried about her. It sounds like she has a wonderfully supportive husband in John and that he’s hooking her up with the best medication for her. The more I hear about cannabis for pain and healing the more I want to try it. I doubt it’s a cure all, but it’s much safer than opiate drugs, which have created such an addiction and overdose crisis in the US.
Olivia is auctioning off some of her Grease wardrobe, including the original leather jacket which still fits her, to benefit her facility, The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Center in Melbourne, Australia.
My new age Mum told me all through my angsty teens that I was “creating my own reality”. It used to make me feel so much worse because not only was I feeling crap, but it was all my own fault. Still makes me feel heavy just remembering it. Now I know random things happen, and how you handle it is dependant on many factors.
YES! I was bullied in middle school, and my mom told me I had a “victim mentality” and it made me an easy target. Then I felt like it was my fault I was being bullied. Not super helpful.
Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a great book on the how the “cult” of positivity hurts people who are suffering and enables a culture of blame. I found it fantastic. The idea that you have choices as to how to handle tough times is great, but those New Agers like Louise Hay who spread the idea that we create our conditions through our thoughts is just a fearful mindset trying to make sense of a world that often doesn’t. I don’t think that’s what ONJ is saying here— but we need to also make space where it’s ok to feel like shit in shitty situations. That’s not always a victim mentality. It can be healthy to feel it when things suck.
Yes, that’s a good book! While I do think trying to see the positive side of things is helpful, sometimes life just throws a pile of rocks on us and blaming oneself for having “thought” it to “become reality” really doesn’t help anybody.
As a cancer survivor I just hated when people would say “You are so positive, I’m sure you will get well”. I know it was meant to be helpful, but if a person succumbs then they were not positive enough. It’s like blaming the victim.
My mother had breast cancer for the last 20 years of her life. She had extremely good healthcare and advice. They did everything right in Mom’s treatment which is why she lived past all expectations. I give all credit to the amazing doctors. When we knew that the end was near and hospice was called, it was a surreal time. Denial is a powerful thing. You act like everything is normal. My family acted like nothing was going on and we didn’t have “dark thoughts.” I do think that it’s important to have a realistic outlook on a situation. Always be hopeful, but keep your eyes open.
YES. ITA about being realistic. I’m also happy to hear that your mom exceeded all expectations.
I want to just preface my comment by saying that cancer patients have to do what’s right by them and that ultimately, it’s a completely individualistic approach. So no, I see nothing wrong with Olivia’s outlook if that’s what she feels she needs to immunize herself against such an emotionally debilitating disease. And I completely understand how emotional strength and positivity can be essential weapons for combating a deadly disease.
That being said, I so often hear the same platitudes and oft-repeated Pollyanna-ish rhetoric surrounding cancer-patients: “Stay Strong!” “You can beat this!” “Keep fighting!” “You’ll get through this–you’re the strongest person I know!” and on and on….
And…..I just don’t know if that’s the best message to send a cancer patient because it places a lot of pressure on them to *beat* cancer, a disease that ultimately doesn’t care about their fortitude.
I’ve had a family member and a friend recently diagnosed and my message was just “Remember that it’s ok to be scared. It’s ok to feel alone and terrified and angry as fuck. It’s ok to feel weak, tired, beaten-down. It’s HUMAN to feel like you’re on a rollercoaster of ups and downs with some days being much worse than others. Let yourself feel everything and know that we’re standing by and unconditionally supporting you in your hardest moments.”
So, while I think it’s great if cancer patients are able to channel that negative energy into something productive, it’s also important to allow them to feel all the REAL emotions–both positive and negative–that come along with a cancer diagnosis and ultimately it’s up to US (family, friends) to be as strong as we can for them.
Kitten you hit the nail on the head. When we were told of the terminally ill diagnosis, I immediately came to the decision that whatever road was taken I would support. This was my mother’s body and life, her decision about how she wanted to proceed was her right and I supported that. I am a firm believer in knowledge is power. When you are given facts it empowers you to make clear decisions. In my case, it wasn’t we’re going to beat this. We knew the statistics. So we enjoyed the time we had with her. Given the stage she was at, we were told 5 years was a miracle if she lived. She made it too 7 and I am so grateful for those 7 years.
If someone who is ill feels pissed, or angry or anything that is considered”negative.” That is their right and they should feel however they like.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this.
Wish her the best.
I am a 5-year bilateral breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in the summer of 2014, had surgery in September, and did not choose reconstruction. I also had a complete hysterectomy 4 months after that (I had ovarian cysts that had to be removed but decided on the hysterectomy because my mother had uterine cancer). I have never been more aware of my mortality, and it often terrifies me. The one thing that calms me down is being vigilant, and believing in early detection, which saved my life. Unfortunately metastatic breast cancer usually reappears as Stage IV – in your bones, brain, or lungs. I know someone from my support group who was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer, and she is fine several years later. Ladies, it’s all a crap-shoot. And I love Olivia. The best advice I can offer is be aware if you have dense breast tissue. Only one breast showed its problem in my mammogram. I was 36A before my diagnosis and never had a lump. I had DCIS, and only in my final pathology did I learn it was invasive. Thankfully it was a very small area, and I didn’t need chemo. PLEASE discuss with your doctor the issues with dense breast tissue. I personally feel if a woman is at risk (my grandmother died of breast cancer) she should have an MRI or CAT. Actually, my mother saved my life – she demanded that I schedule my mammo that summer – I was lax, and was like, “Whatever…”
So pleased to hear you’re doing well! I agree, it’s a crap-shoot! How do you know if you have dense breast tissue?
Thank you!! I started getting mammograms when I was about 37. Doctor is able to tell by the mammogram films if you have dense tissue.
There’s a happy medium with this kind of thinking. I don’t think we should embrace the “toxic positivity” that I often see on social media, where any kind of dissatisfaction is taken as a bad vibe and a reason to dissociate with that person. It’s not good to be around chronic complainers or even to be one yourself, but we’re not meant to exist in a single state of emotion.