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Four months ago, the actress and singer learned that her breast cancer had returned after 25 years in remission and that the cancer has spread to her lower back. Newton-John originally thought that she had sciatica, and she recalled in the interview that “it was painful to walk.”
When her doctor informed her that the cancer had returned and spread, Newton-John couldn’t believe it.
“I never would have associated it, because in my mind it was over. I had finished with it,” she said on Today of her battle with cancer.
The Grease star stated that she doesn’t like to read into prognostic statistics because she finds them depressing. “I’m not going to be one of those statistics,” she said. “I’m going to be fine. … I think you can live with cancer, like you can live with other things if you take care of yourself.”
When asked if she’s scared, Newton-John responded, “Of course you have fear. That’s only natural.” She admitted to having dark moments, but her “positive outlook is a decision,” she said, and she tends to look at the situation as “a glass half full.”
Mind and body wellness has been an important part of Newton-John’s chemotherapy process. Her personal experience has inspired the addition of massages, meditation, yoga, music therapy and art activities being offered to patients and their families at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Center in Melbourne, Australia, where the interview was conducted. Newton-John credited her experience with cancer as inspiring her “to help other people who are going through it.”
Newton-John believes the use of medicinal cannabis is getting her through the pain. While the drug has a certain stigma, she hopes to change that. “People have this vision from the ‘60s of people just sitting around, you know, getting stoned. It’s not about that. This plant is a healing plant,” she said.
The star’s positive attitude allows her to find a silver lining in her situation. “I think [cancer] taught me that I’m stronger than I thought I was,” she said.
She also revealed that she prefers to be called a cancer thriver rather than a cancer survivor.
“‘Survivor’ sounds like someone clinging onto a lifeboat,” she explained. “A thriver’s someone that’s already off the boat and on land.”
Watch the full interview below.
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