by Yeong Sek Yee & Khadijah Shaari
This is a short story about how Olivia Newton John healed herself from breast cancer. She has been one of our favourite country singers whose songs are very meaningful and will really touch your soul. As we are writing this, we are listening to one of her top hits “I Honestly Love You.” If you have not heard this song for some time, take a breather from reading this article and listen to the song at the following link (and hum the tune to your loved one):
Throughout her singing and acting career Olivia has exuded a positive personality and a soulfulness that have infused each of her projects with warmth and spiritual energy that for many of her fans have become her signature. Her passion for her work has translated into not only her creative projects but also the many advocacy efforts she has undertaken—ranging from environmental causes to health issues—to effect positive change in her own life and in the world around her.
In the summer of 1992, Olivia felt a lump in her right breast. “I had found lumps before,” she says, “but this particular time I wasn’t feeling well, and I didn’t feel good about it.” Her doctor recommended a mammogram, which did not turn up anything unusual, yet Olivia’s instinct told her that what she was feeling was not right. Her doctor listened, and he performed a needle biopsy. Again, the result was benign. Still convinced that something was very wrong, Olivia and her doctor agreed that they would proceed with a surgical biopsy. Their final biopsy did indeed find cancer (Stage 3). Tragically; the diagnosis was confirmed on the weekend her father died of liver cancer.
Following her diagnosis, Olivia underwent a modified radical mastectomy and one year of chemotherapy before her treatment was finished. She endured the side effects of treatment, which included headaches, fevers, and fatigue; and she still remembers with a shudder the anti-nausea “cocktail” she was given at the time. However, it was her decision to integrate complementary therapies into her treatment plan that Olivia says really helped her through.
Working with her oncologist to ensure that none of the alternative treatments would interfere with the standard treatment protocol, Olivia had regular massage therapy as well as regular acupuncture sessions, which were especially helpful in alleviating her nausea. She also practiced yoga, meditated regularly, and consulted a doctor who was an herbalist.
Each of these additional steps that she took to care for her health and her spirit, Olivia says, was integral to her healing. “It had to be more than slash and burn for me,” she says, of integrating a complementary approach.
Olivia’s journey from diagnosis and treatment in 1992 to recovery was a long and winding road. Ironically, that was the title of one of her chart topper” A Long and Winding Road” in 1971. Listen to the song at the following link (and ponder upon the lyrics):
Since her diagnosis and treatment, Olivia has been a crusader for all things alternative and spiritual. The comfort Olivia found in alternative therapies when she had cancer is her reason for establishing the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia. The Centre replaced the cancer wards at the Melbourne-based Austin Hospital and also collaborates with the New York-based Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. In addition to traditional cancer therapies, the Centre offer patients and their families support and cancer education programs, as well as complementary therapies focusing on meditation, relaxation, massage, art and music, nutrition, exercise and aromatherapy.
In a recent interview, Olivia, when asked how she has survived so long since 1992, attributed her successful cancer journey to the following:
- I owe my good health to several things particularly my wonderful doctors! A positive attitude, which is essential to ones ultimate survival, good nutrition both emotionally and in a dietary sense are invaluable.
- I balanced my western chemotherapy and surgery with eastern philosophies and practiced meditation, yoga and prayer.
- I complemented my treatments with herbs; homeopathy and acupuncture to combat my nausea and to help me stay centered and focused.
- Equally important were my conversations with other women who have gone through the same treatment. It helped me to understand what was ahead of me.
- I realize that I am blessed to be alive and every day I acknowledge and affirm that life is a gift–so live in the present! I see it as a gift,”
- Last but not least, the support of my family and good friends was priceless and lots of laughter–the best medicine of all!!!
Olivia Newton-John has very successfully combined both Western and Eastern healing modalities and has survived 20 years already. Obviously the 2 healing methods did not clash at all. This “clashing” talk by our oncologists is certainly a lot of bull. Don’t you think so? We welcome your views.
Below are some YouTube videos on Olivia Newton-John and her breast cancer journey:
1) Olivia Newton John Opens Up About Breast Cancer