After 25 years in remission, Olivia Newton-John learned her breast cancer had returned and spread to her lower back in May. Today's Natalie Morales sat down with the Grease star in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia to discuss how she's fighting cancer a second time around.
The early signs of the cancer's return weren't entirely clear to Newton-John. The actress and singer had been performing at the time and thought that the pain she experienced while walking was due to sciatica.
"I would kind of grit my teeth and take a couple of asprin and go on," she told Morales.
Unfortunately, she was wrong.
"I guess I was sort of surprised," she said in regards to learning the news. "and I never would have associated because, in my mind, it was over. I had finished with it."
Newton-John has been relying on both photon radiation and natural remedies like herbal supplements and meditation to fight the cancer. She also said that she's used medical cannabis to deal with the severe pain she feels when walking.
"People have this vision from the ‘60s of people just sitting around, you know, getting stoned, and I think it's not about that," she told Morales. "This plant is a healing plant. I think we need to change the vision of what it is because it helped me greatly and it helped with pain and information."
Of course, she also has the support of her husband John Easterling and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi.
"My husband was there with me. He's been my rock," she said. "He's just an incredible person. He's totally confident that I'm fine and I'm going to last a long time."
Newton-John told Morales that she doesn't look at the prognosis or statistics around her cancer because "I think that can be really depressing, and I'm not going to be one of those statistics. I'm going to be fine."
However, she acknowledged that the cancer is something that she will "probably deal with" the rest of her life.
"I think you can live with cancer like you can live with other things if you take care of yourself," she said.
However, Newton-John is using her cancer experiences to help others. She supports the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Center—a public hospital that offers cancer treatment and conducts research and clinical trials.
"Without that experience, I wouldn't have grown and had the desire or the passion to help other people who are going through it and the compassion to understand what it's like when you're going through cancer," she said. "So, it's been an amazing journey. Having it happen again, I thought to myself I've done it before. You know, I got through this before and I can do it again."
When asked what she's learned from her experience, Newton-John said, "I think it taught me I'm stronger than I thought I was. Because even though you have a team around you and people are helping you, really in the end, it's up to you. Believe you can do it and to go through it."
She also told Morales that she considers herself a cancer thriver versus a cancer survivor.
"A survivor sounds like someone clinging onto a lifeboat ," she said. "To me a thriver is someone that's already off the boat and on land."
Watch the video for the full interview.
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