Positivity during Cancer
- Aussie actress and singer Olivia Newton-John says in a recent interview that she’s “doing well and [has] been for a while” despite living with stage four breast cancer.
- Metastatic, or stage four, breast cancer is technically not curable, but with ongoing advancements in treatments and options to dramatically reduce symptoms, there are many reasons to be hopeful.
- Known for her relentless positivity, Newton-John says your mind is a very important part of healing during a cancer journey, so trying to stay positive can really help.
The 73-year-old Aussie icon has been facing stage four breast cancer for quite some time now, but she’s as determined as ever to focus on staying positive. In a recent interview with Dr. Oz, the beloved Grease star shared that she’s still doing well despite having breast cancer.Read More
“I feel very, very grateful that I’m doing well and have been for a while,” she said. “I’m very lucky enough to be married to a wonderful man who works with plant medicine, and that I think has been helping me so much.”
She’ll admit she never imagined living this long given her cancer diagnosis, but she credits a lot of her overall health to her dedication to mental health via “meditation, eating well, keeping a positive mind [and] obviously doing what you feel is right for your body.”
“I think your mind is a very, very important part of your healing, so to stay really positive does help,” she said.
Other advice Newton-John shared for people, in general, was to always look for any changes happening to your body – especially when it comes to the possibility of breast cancer.
“I do think is it’s very important that women pay attention to their own bodies and examine their breasts on a regular basis and see if there’s any changes, so they can go and get it checked out professionally,” she explained. “I think we need to be responsible and be aware of what’s going on inside us and tune in to lumps and bumps and pains and changes in how you feel.”
And Newton-John is grateful for how she’s feeling, but she’s also thankful for the friends and family who’ve played a part in her extraordinary life and successful career – including, none other than, her Grease co-star John Travolta.
“We stayed in touch [over quarantine] and he came and had dinner with us a couple months ago,” she told Dr. Oz. “He’ll always be my friend, of course… We’ve been through something extraordinary together, and he’s a lovely man. So, I’m very grateful he’s my friend.”
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 but 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.”
Understanding Metastatic Breast Cancer
Olivia Newton-John has proven that an advanced cancer diagnosis does not require that you stop living. Metastatic breast cancer – also called “stage four” breast cancer – means that the cancer has spread, or metastasized, beyond the breasts to other parts of the body. It most commonly spreads to the bones, liver and lungs, but it may also spread to the brain or other organs.
And while there is technically no cure for metastatic breast cancer, there is a wide variety of treatment options used to battle the disease including hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drugs, immunotherapy and a combination of various treatments.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Dr. Elizabeth Comen, an oncologist with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, explained how she tries to manage breast cancer when it has progressed to a later stage.
“With advanced disease, the goal of treatment is to keep you as stable as possible, slow the tumor growth and improve your quality of life,” she said.
The American Cancer Society reports that there were more than 3.8 million U.S. women with a history of breast cancer alive at the start of 2019. Some of the women were cancer-free, and others still had evidence of the disease, but they also reported that more than 150,000 breast cancer survivors were living with metastatic disease, three-fourths of whom were originally diagnosed with stage I-III. And with ongoing advancements in treatments and options out there today that can dramatically reduce systems, there are many reasons to be hopeful.
Staying Positive During Cancer
Olivia Newton-John has faced the realities of cancer for many years of her life. But despite everything she’s gone through and continues to go through today, she’s shown that a cancer diagnosis does not have to define how you live your life. And her dedication to mental health throughout her journey via meditation, healthy eating and maintaining a positive mindset is nothing short of inspiring.
At SurvivorNet, we get to share many stories of positivity and resilience because there’s no shortages of brave cancer warriors holding onto hope in the face of adversity. Danielle Ripley-Burgess, a two-time colon cancer survivor, is another resilient cancer survivor like Newton-John. She was first diagnosed with colon cancer in high school and proceeded to beat the disease not once, but twice. Understandably so, Ripley-Burgess has had to work through a lot of complex emotions that came with her cancer journey. Even still, she’s always managed to look at life with a positive attitude.
“As I’ve worked through the complex emotions of cancer, I’ve uncovered some beautiful things: Wisdom. Love. Life purpose. Priorities,” she previously told SurvivorNet. “I carry a very real sense that life is short, and I’m grateful to be living it! This has made me optimistic. Optimism doesn’t mean that fear, pain and division don’t exist – they do. Our world is full of negativity, judgment, and hate. Optimism means that I believe there’s always good to be found despite the bad, and this is what my life is centered around.”
She moves through life with a sense of purpose unique to someone who’s been faced with the darkest of times. Happily in remission today, she’s determined to, one day, leave the world better than she found it.
“We can choose to stay positive, treat others with respect and look for the light in spite of the darkness,” she said. “This type of attitude and behavior will lead to the kind of legacies I believe all of us hope to leave.”