What Olivia Newton-John Said About Living With Breast Cancer Not Long Before Her Death

Without a doubt, Olivia Newton-John was one of the most influential faces in pop culture. The Australian actor shot to superstardom by starring in "Grease," but her success transcended the big screen. Her music career was also a massive success, with five of her songs charting on the Billboard Hot 100. This includes the ever-iconic hit "Physical," which stayed atop the charts for 10 consecutive weeks in 1981.

Sadly, Newton-John died at the age of 73 on August 8 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. According to Daily Mail, her passing prompted tributes from many other stars, including her "Grease" paramour, John Travolta. Writing that Newton-John "made all of our lives so much better," the actor declared his love for the late star, adding that her impact was "incredible." He then touchingly signed off as "your Danny," in reference to his "Grease" character.

At the time of her death, her husband, John Easterling, wrote on Facebook: "We ask that everyone please respect the family's privacy during this very difficult time. Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer." Newton-John successfully fought cancer three times before succumbing to the disease, becoming a fierce advocate for other survivors in the process.

Olivia Newton-John opened up about the importance of positive thinking

Amid her final battle with cancer, Olivia Newton-John made it a point to focus on keeping a brave face. The singer maintained that "[y]ou have to believe that you'll be okay" to make it through the struggles of life, especially when you are faced with something as unpredictable as cancer.

However, the singer was well aware that doubts were normal. Newton-John told Australian Women's Weekly (via 7News), "I mean, there are times when you go, 'Oh gosh, what's going to happen?' But at the bottom of all that, you have to believe you'll be okay because your attitude is so important to your healing." According to the "Grease" star, "the body wants to heal naturally," and it's up to you to help it along the way.

However, the secret to her ability to stay upbeat while ailing was simple — she'd been through it all before. Newton-John felt perspective was important. She once explained (via 7News): "There are people out there doing much, much worse than me. I now live in this beautiful place, I have a wonderful husband, I have all the animals that I adore, I have an incredible career, I have nothing really to complain about."

Olivia Newton-John discussed surviving breast cancer

In 1992, Olivia Newton-John's world was rocked when she received terrible news: she had breast cancer (via NBC News). Miraculously, she survived both that first occurrence and another resurgence in 2013. Yet, while some people might have cursed their bad luck, Newton-John counted her blessings instead. After all, she made it clear many times over that the best way to recover is to believe you can recover.

According to The Guardian, the actor developed a habit of singing "I'm healthy, I'm strong" in order "to keep that positive message in [her] head." After her health struggles, she became a strong believer that "if you have a difficult moment, music is always a great healer." In 2020, she opened up about being "three times lucky," adding that "everyday is a blessing."

"You never know when your time is over; we all have a finite amount of time on this planet, and we just need to be grateful for that," she concluded. "It's been a part of my life for so long. I felt something was wrong. It's concerning when it comes back, but I thought: 'I'll get through it again.'" As for how she used that time, Newton-John rededicated herself to activism.

Olivia Newton-John became an advocate for other cancer patients

After her difficult battle with breast cancer, Olivia Newton-John channeled her pain to help others. In 2015, she started the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, dedicated to guiding patients through cancer treatment and finding new ways to combat the disease.

"Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer," John Easterling, Newton-John's husband, wrote after her death. "In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund."

According to Us Weekly, Newton-John's ultimate goal was to "find a world beyond cancer." She further elaborated, "My dream is that one day the ONJ Centre will be only about Wellness, and we will no longer need cancer centers because cancer will be a thing of the past." While she didn't live to see that dream come true, Newton-John's legacy offers the hope that others won't have to go through what she did — and what a dream that is.