When you first found out that you had cancer, how did you deal with it?
When I was first diagnosed in 1992, I was of course shocked and I said to myself, “Why me?” I was lucky to have the love and support of my friends but, back then, it was still “the big C” and very few people spoke about it. In a way, I was forced to tell people; now I look back and consider it a good thing. Someone from the press was going to write a story that I was dying of cancer, and I didn’t want to frighten my friends and family that I had not yet told about my diagnosis.
What is your advice to women with breast cancer — how should they decide whether or not to tell people about it?
I think every woman has to make that choice, but talking to people and getting the love and support of family and friends is key to healing and recovery. We are much stronger than we think we are when we are faced with something like cancer — but it doesn’t hurt to have the support of friends and family.
What were the key elements of your full recovery?
I did everything I could from Western and Eastern treatments. I had surgery and chemotherapy, but I also relied on Eastern treatments, meditation, acupuncture, massage -—anything I could do to help heal the whole person — body, heart and spirit. I am also proud to lend my name to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia. We recently began construction, and I can’t wait until it is completed.
How should women examine themselves according to your opinion?
Unfortunately women are being diagnosed with breast cancer as early as their 20s. I encourage every woman 20 years old and above to perform monthly breast self-exams and see their doctors annually for regular check-ups. I am very proud to have co-designed the ‘Liv Aid’ [a medical device] to help women perform monthly breast self-examinations. The more you are familiar with your own breasts, the easier it is for you to know when there is a change.