In a rare interview, Olivia Newton-John shared a surprising detail about her breast cancer diagnosis: Her initial testing didn’t catch the disease. The Grease star was officially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992.
“I knew immediately that something was wrong. I had a mammogram and the mammogram was benign and then I had a needle biopsy that was also benign,” Olivia said in the video. “And I don’t say this to scare women, but you just have to trust your instincts.”
“I felt something was wrong, and when I was with my surgeon, we decided that he would do a surgical biopsy,” she continued. After the procedure, Olivia’s doctor revealed she had cancer in her right breast, which would need to be removed.
The actress underwent a mastectomy and nine months of chemotherapy. “All of this was overwhelming. It was a feeling of dread and terror of the unknown,” she said of her diagnosis.
But a friend was there to lift her out of that mindset, and she ultimately “made a decision that I was going to be OK,” she explained. “My daughter was the most important thing in my life and I had to be OK for her. You have to follow your own heart and your own instincts when it comes to your own cancer treatment and cancer journey.”
In addition to her medical treatments, she also incorporated meditation, acupuncture, and massage therapy into her recovery plan. “I got through it pretty well, apart from chemo brain, which is pretty much when you get fuzzy in the head,” she said.
Olivia’s cancer went into remission until 2013 when it metastasised outside of her breasts. In 2017, she learned it had progressed to stage 4 breast cancer that had spread to her spine.
But she remained positive about her prognosis. “Prognosis? I don’t discuss prognosis,” she told American journalist, Gayle King in an interview. “Because, in my opinion, if they give you a percentage or, you know, ‘This many women get this and they live this long,’ you can create that and make it happen. It’s almost like, I think I know what the statistics are. But I put them away. I’m gonna live longer than that. I’ve made that decision.”
She also launched the Olivia Newton-John Foundation this week to support others who are battling breast cancer and to give them the “tools and information they need to have a kinder, happier, and healthier existence.”