‘Staying positive is really important’: Olivia Newton-John on love, life with cancer and the future

By Sarah Curran

Olivia Newton-John's life has had its trials, certainly more than most. She has been living with stage 4 breast cancer, and recently released a memoir, Don't Stop Believin'. Olivia sat down with HELLO! Canada to talk about her career, her relationship with her daughter and why now is the right time to tell her story.

Born in England in 1948, Olivia moved to Australia with her family at the age of five, where she won a TV talent contest on a popular TV show, Sing, Sing, Sing. Before long, she was appearing on local TV shows, performing as a duo – with her friend, Pat Carroll – and, by 1971, had released her first solo album, If Not for You.

Now? Her journey includes a five-decade career with 100 million albums sold, various accolades (like four GRAMMYs!) and hit songs, encounters with the Pope (whom she performed for) and the Queen (who presented her with an OBE), and co-starring in Grease with John Travolta. It’s a singular life that the star is documenting in her new memoir, Don’t Stop Believin’ – the title track of her 1976 album and a reflection of her sunny outlook.

But Olivia’s life has had its trials, far more than most. The star has been living with stage 4 breast cancer, which returned for a third time in 2017. She was first diagnosed in 1992 and also privately overcame a bout in 2013. She spent her 70th birthday (last September) in hospital – at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre, which she helped build.

Here are some highlights from Olivia's interview w

Olivia, what inspired you to write your memoir at this point in time? They were going to make a movie of my life and I wasn’t sure what they would say or what would happen in it because I wasn’t involved in it. So I thought, “Maybe I’ll just write my own story, so that if there’s anything in there that’s wrong, at least I have my own version in my book.”

Don’t Stop Believin’ is dedicated to your daughter, Chloe. You’re clearly very close? Oh yeah, she’s my little angel. She’s my one and only child. I call her “the lucky egg.” We’re mother and daughter, and of course we’ve gone through things in our lives together like mothers-daughters do, which is only natural – but we’re really, really close and I adore her.

Did she inherit a passion for music from you? She’s very talented! She has a beautiful voice but she’s very musical. She wrote her own album, which is really good.

In your memoir, you talk about how you wanted to work with animals as a child. If not for show business, do you think you’d be a vet? Yes, I always loved animals. I would have loved to have been a vet, but I wasn’t good at math so I decided that I’d probably fail medical school. Lucky, I can sing, that’s all I can say!

Olivia and her longtime producer, John Farrar, attended a black tie gala in LA last year. Photo: © Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

You’ve had an incredible journey. Looking back, are there moments you’re most proud of? The birth of my daughter was the highlight of my life. In my career, it would have been singing at the Olympic Games in Sydney, representing Australia. It was just a magnificent moment in my life.

Does the power of positivity play a big role in your life? Oh, absolutely – that is it! Staying positive and seeing good things ahead of you is really important to me and for anyone who’s going through cancer or any difficult illness.

Pick up issue 652 of HELLO! Canada for more! Find it on newsstands now.

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