A Cancer Warrior Reflects On The Past
- Iconic performer Olivia Newton-John recently posted two throwback pictures on her Instagram – one with fellow singer Barbra Streisand for her 80th birthday and one with her late sister, Rona, who died of an aggressive brain tumor back in 2013.
- Newton-John is currently battling metastatic, or stage four, breast cancer.
- Members of the SurvivorNet community tell us that moving forward after loss does not mean you’re necessarily moving on. Things like time, therapy and support groups can also help as you navigate the journey of grief.
The 73-year-old singer has been facing stage four breast cancer for quite some time now, and, unfortunately, tumors have also affected other members of her family. Her late sister, Rona, passed of a brain tumor in 2013.Read More
In a recent post, Newton-John shared a beautiful throwback picture of the two sisters in honor of the re-release of her album Hotel Sessions which was dedicated to Rona.
View this post on Instagram
“My EP #HotelSessions, which was first released back in 2014, is a tribute to my beautiful, late sister Rona – with all of the songs produced by her son, my wonderful nephew, @brettgoldsmith,” she wrote in her caption.
In another recent post, Newton-John took another trip down memory lane. But this time she looked back on a fond time with legendary singer Barbra Streisand, 80.
View this post on Instagram
“Happy 80th Birthday @barbrastreisand ! #barbrastreisand #happybirthday,” she wrote on Streisand’s birthday, April 24.
The singer’s friendship goes way back, and the two even have a track together with Newton-John’s Grease co-star John Travolta. The three stars lent their voices to the song I’ll Be Home For Christmas, which is still a fan-favorite holiday tune.
Olivia Newton-John’s Breast Cancer Journey
Olivia Newton-John is living with stage four, or metastatic breast cancer. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and underwent chemotherapy and a partial mastectomy – the surgical removal of cancerous breast tissue – for treatment. Unfortunately, the cancer returned in 2017 and spread to other parts of her body including her sacrum – the bone at the bottom of the spine.
Cancer metastasis can lead to the weakening and breaking of bones. This happened to be the case for Newton-John whose sacrum broke as a result of her spreading cancer. She then underwent radiation therapy and eventually turned to medical cannabis to help relieve the pain of her broken sacrum.
“I weaned myself off [prescription pain med] with cannabis, which I think is incredible,” Newton-John previously told SurvivorNet. “People should know that, because you’re not going to die from cannabis… That was really powerful for me to find out as well. I’ve continued on a regimen with cannabis ever since.”
Losing a Loved One
Grief is an inevitable, and essential, part of the healing process after losing a loved one – something Newton-John knows all too well.
There’s definitely no one way to cope, but Doug Wendt shared his thoughts on grief in a previous interview with SurvivorNet after losing his wife, Alice, to ovarian cancer.
“We’re never gonna move on, I don’t even think I want to move on, but I do want to move forward,” Wendt said. “That’s an important distinction, and I encourage anybody who goes through this journey as a caregiver and then has to face loss, to think very carefully about how to move forward.”
Everyone’s journey of grief looks different, but therapy and support groups can also be wonderful options to explore. It’s also important to keep in mind that time does not heal everything, but it certainly helps.
In an earlier interview with SurvivorNet, Camila Legaspi shared her own advice on grief after her mother died of breast cancer. For her, therapy made all the difference.
“Therapy saved my life,” Legaspi said. “I was dealing with some really intense anxiety and depression at that point. It just changed my life, because I was so drained by all the negativity that was going on. Going to a therapist helped me realize that there was still so much out there for me, that I still had my family, that I still had my siblings.”
Legaspi also wanted to remind people that even though it can be an incredibly difficult experience to process, things will get better.
“When you lose someone, it’s really, really, really hard,” Legaspi said. “I’m so happy that I talked to my therapist. Keep your chin up, and it’s going to be OK. No matter what happens, it’s going to be OK.”