|were moments when I didn't know what was going
to happen. You cannot face something like that and not consider death.
"I made a decision that I was not going to give in to it. Your mind is a very
powerful thing. You either see the positive and go with that or you let
yourself go into the negative. I was definitely not going to do that. I used a lot
of positive affirmation and really started taking extra care of myself."
Olivia combined Western medicines, such as surgery and chemotherapy, with Eastern
techniques, like meditation, yoga and homeopathy. Friends and family helped too. She was
most concerned, she said, with "getting through and being healthy," not about
her physical appearance. "My self-esteem was not attached to my breast,"
As she recuperated from surgery and chemotherapy among the green hills and citrus trees at
her 150-acre farm near Byron Bay, Australia, Olivia found inspiration. For the first
time, she wrote, co-produced and financed her own album, Gaia: One Woman's Joumey, a
collection of songs about her experience with breast cancer.
"I started waking up in the
night with songs in my head," she said. "I had just finished chemotherapy. I
really had no intention of performing again. I thought I was going to retire. It was a
catharsis for me--the writing and recording and talking about the whole
One song, "Not Gonna Give In To It,"was written after a
chemotherapy treatment. "It was not a pleasant experience, and it was a little
frightening," Olivia said. "And that's really how I felt. But the song came out
as upbeat, not a victim thing. I'm not gonna give in to it." Another song,
"Why Me," written after surgery, is dedicated to her father. "The day I was
diagnosed, he died from cancer," Olivia said. "He never knew about me,
actually. And I'm glad he didn't. He was extremely dignified. He never complained. He
still had a sense of humor. He wanted to go quickly and keep his dignity. And he never
said, 'Why me?' And I didn't
either." Gaia, which means Mother Earth in Greek, was released in 1994 in
Australia, where it went gold, as well as in Europe and Japan. While Olivia has been
unable to find an American record company to distribute it, the album is available here as
an import. "I see Gaia as something that really happened to me," she
said. "It was an amazing experience, and even if nobody hears it, I'm still glad I
did it.""I don't know if I thought this at the time," Olivia told me,
"but later on I thought that maybe this all might have happened for a reason-so that
I could share my experiences and show that, look, it could happen to me, and I gotthrough
it. So can you.
"Once you face your
fear," she said, "nothing is ever as hard as you think. Now I concentrate on
living. I eat well, take care of myself, I don't smoke, I'm not a drinker. So what is it?
I think stress plays a part in it, but I also think that our environment is playing a
great role in the increases in cancers of all kinds." An active environmentalist,
Olivia Newton-John has been busy with a number of projects since recovering from her
illness. She was host of a documentary on the possible environmental causes of breast
cancer and co-author of a children's book with an environmental theme. A country
album, Back With a Heart, was just released in May. Olivia will serve as a goodwill
ambassador for the Olympics in Australia in 2000 and is scheduled to perform at the
'I look at where I live," she said, "and Iappreciate the basic things--spending
time at the beach, watching the sun come up. I've learned to value the day. I'm grateful
to be getting older. I try to keepin touch with the fact that life is a gift- that every
day is a gift."
Suzanne's Olivia Newton-John Page