"It was all at once. Everything just came at me," she said. "You can’t help but feel despair at some point. It’s overwhelming."
"It was depressing at the time, but you can’t dwell on the past," said Olivia Newton-John about the failure of her clothing company in 1991. But her chain filing for bankruptcy was only the beginning of a series of tragic events that would take place in her life. It was the following year that would test her mettle through the heartbreaking experiences she saw in her personal life.
Newton-John was married to her co-star Matt Lattanzi when in 1991, she lost her 5-year-old goddaughter, Colette Chuda to cancer, according to People. Colette ws the daughter of the actress's close friend, Nancy Chuda and Newton-John deeply cared for the little girl.
"My hands shook and I couldn't stop crying," Newton-John revealed in her memoir Don't Stop Believin', according to a Woman's Day report published on MSN. "How could we live without our Colette? My heart took a long time to mend."
The year after that, the Australian-bred singer lost her father to liver cancer. Her father, Brinley was 78 at the time and had divorced Newton-John's mother when she was 11 years old. After seeing what cancer can do to her loved ones, Newton-John found out just two weeks after her father's death that she herself had cancer. As she was grieving her father's death, she was told by her doctors that she had cancer in her right breast at the age of 43.
"It was all at once. Everything just came at me," she told People. "You can’t help but feel despair at some point. It’s overwhelming."
At first, she was terrified of cancer treatment, having seen first-hand what chemotherapy can do to a person's body. "My fear was that I would die, because I had seen the horrors of [chemo] with Colette," she said. But she recalled her friend, Nancy telling her, "If you’re positive, everyone will be positive."
And so she relied on laughter and positivity to get her through her treatment. "She had a sense of humor even when they were putting the needle in her veins," her older sister Rona shared. "I was amazed at the inner strength Livvy had."
Newton-John, who is completely devoted to her daughter, Chloe, also decided after her diagnosis that she would keep her cancer a secret from her daughter who was still in school at the time. According to the MSN report, Chloe found out through a bully in school about her mother's life-threatening condition. Chloe said about the incident, "Some little brat ran up to me and said, 'Ha ha, your mum's got cancer and she's going to die.' It's like a screenshot in my head I'll never forget. I went home and said to my mum, 'Why didn't you tell me? I could've taken care of you!'"
Today, as she battles cancer for the third time in her life, the Grease star finds her daughter to be one of her greatest supporters.
The chain of heartbreaking events in Newton-John's life in the early 1990s also included the end of her 11-year-marriage to Matt Lattanzi. She remained fairly private about their divorce in 1993, which took place as she was going through treatment.
Two years after her diagnosis, which included a partial mastectomy and chemotherapy, Newton-John went into remission, according to the Daily Mail. But that wasn't the end of her battle against cancer.
In 2013, her sister Rona joined the group of close loved ones she lost to cancer almost on her mother's birthday. "My beautiful sister Rona sadly passed on May 24th in Los Angeles. It was May 25th in Australia - which was our mother Irene's birthday. Rona died of a very aggressive brain tumor and mercifully suffered no pain," Newton-John wrote on Facebook.
The year of 2013 was also the year cancer returned in her own body. Then, in 2017, she was diagnosed with cancer for the third time and it had progressed to stage 4, according to AARP. However, Newton-John still remains as happy and bubbly as ever. Despite all the hardships that she has been through in life, she lives every day with gratitude after seeing up close the effects of cancer in her own life and the lives of others. Her husband, John Easterling and her daughter, Chloe make the journey a lot easier for her.
The actress started the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre where not only are patients provided with care and medical treatment, but also clinical trials are conducted to come up with breakthroughs in cancer therapies.
Talking about staying positive, Newton-John said, according to Belfast Telegraph, "I've had my moments, and my tears and all that, but I have a wonderful husband in John and a daughter in Chloe who support me through those things. There are moments, I'm human. If I allowed myself to go there, I could easily create that big fear. But my husband's always there, and he's there to support me. I believe I will win over it. That's my goal, to see cancer cured in my lifetime."