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One Year After Her Death, Olivia Newton-John Remains Dedicated To Helping Cancer Patients

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Olivia Newton-John passed away at 73 at her ranch in Santa Ynez, California, surrounded by her loved ones and close friends. She was widely recognized throughout her life for her devoted efforts in cancer charity work and support. This cause became even more significant to her after her battle with breast cancer.

Remarkably, even after her passing, the late actress’ dedication to assisting cancer patients endures through the Olivia Newton-John Foundation. This charitable organization continues to fund the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, where research into medicinal advancements derived from plants is undertaken to benefit those affected by cancer.

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Olivia Newton-John’s battle with cancer

SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL, Olivia Newton-John, 2010. ph: Ken Woroner/©Mongrel Media/Courtesy Everett Collection

Newton-John received her initial breast cancer diagnosis in August 1992 at 43 and promptly got medical help. However, in May 2017, she revealed that her breast cancer had relapsed and metastasized to her sacrum, a bone at the base of her spine. The announcement came after she had postponed the first part of her concert tour due to severe back pain, initially believed to be sciatica. Subsequent medical tests, however, revealed that the pain was, in fact, a result of the metastasized cancer.

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In a candid 2020 interview with The Guardian, the late actress shared a deeply personal and challenging aspect of her battle with cancer. She disclosed that in 2018, the disease had advanced to the point where it had spread extensively, leading to a fracture in the base of her spine, and thus necessitated her to re-learn how to walk again. “I was so weak,” Newton-John told the publication. “I had a walker, a cane, and crutches, but now I’m walking around.”

XANADU, Olivia Newton-John, 1980, ©Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Olivia Newton-John says she started the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre because of her positive outlook on cancer

In an interview with The Guardian, Newton-John shared how she coped with her cancer diagnosis. “I don’t think of myself as sick with cancer. I choose not to see it as a fight either, because I don’t like war. I don’t like fighting wherever it is — whether it’s outside or an actual war inside my body. I choose not to see it that way,” she told the outlet. “I want to get my body healthy and back in balance. Part of that is your mental attitude to it. If you think: ‘Poor me,’ or ‘I’m sick,’ then you’re going to be sick.”

THE VERY EXCELLENT MR. DUNDEE, Olivia Newton-John, 2020. © Lionsgate /Courtesy Everett Collection

She also shared that her curiosity about the disease was the key factor that prompted her to establish the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre. “I don’t know what I would be without it now,” Newton-John admitted. “I see it as my life’s journey. It gave me purpose and intention and taught me a lot about compassion. It has been a gift. I don’t wish it on anyone else. But for me, it’s been important in my life.”

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