Most people know Olivia Newton-John for her voice and her role opposite John Travolta in Grease. But since her Hollywood days, Olivia has connected with some of the more important things in life—like staying alive. A breast cancer survivor, Olivia Newton-John has spent much of her time in recent years supporting the cause.
“I am committed and excited about educating and encouraging women to take a positive role in their breast health,” the UK-born, Australian-raised singer says on her website. Though she’s won several awards for her incredible musical talent, performance is taking a back seat to philanthropy these days.
In the 90s, Olivia was diagnosed with and overcame breast cancer. After that battle, she produced GAIA, an album both self-penned and produced. It reflected upon her personal experiences with cancer and was the beginning of her openness with the public about her bout with cancer. Since then, she has been one of the most transparent celebrities promoting public awareness, education, and early detection.
Olivia Newton-John eventually partnered with Austin Health to create the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre (ONJCWC) in Melbourne, Australia. The ONJCWC includes facilities for treatment, education, training, and research and opened in June of 2012.
In order to fundraise for the center, “Olivia led a team of fellow cancer survivors, celebrities and Olympians on a trek along the Great Wall of China,” which raised over $2 million. She has fundraised on a global scale and has been recognized by the American Red Cross, the Environmental Media Association, the Women’s Guild of Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center, the Rainforest Alliance and Concept Cure for her philanthropic involvement.
Most recently, Olivia Newton-John launched the Liv Aid, which is a breast self-examination aid that helps women complete self-exams correctly. In doing so, she helps to catch more cases of breast cancer early and encourage women to take an active role in their breast health.
“I think when you go through an experience like cancer, it makes you really aware of vulnerability and your humanity,” she says. “And I think, as you get older, it’s a natural part of life to want to give back and help. And I’ve been so blessed in my life, and I’m so grateful for all I do have, giving back is just natural. It seems natural, don’t you think?”