Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John, Diagnosed at age 44 Treatment: Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radical Mastectomy, Reconstruction

Breast cancer does not discriminate—just ask mother, actress and singer Olivia Newton-John. Here, she shares her story of facing fear and winning.

Q: Did you ever think about breast cancer before your own diagnosis in 1992?

A: A dear friend of mine was diagnosed only three months before I was, and our little circle immediately said, “Oh my God! She’s got cancer!” There’s something about the word itself that’s so scary. So when I got it, I had to come to the realization—and it took awhile—that cancer isn’t necessarily a death sentence. Millions of women go through it and then lead productive, healthy lives. But at the time it felt overwhelming.

Q: So, you and your friend were facing it together.

A: Yes. She’d had surgery and was already going through chemo when I was diagnosed. Then, a few years later, a third girlfriend got it—three women from my immediate group—all in their 40s. A housewife, a flight attendant and me. Unbelievable.

Q: Did you friend’s diagnosis motivate you to conduct self-exams?

A: I’ve always had regular exams, because I’ve had a few [benign] lumps before—you know, cysts—so I went periodically to my surgeon for check-ups. [...] continue the story

How did you tell your children you were diagnosed with cancer?

member9982 (Survivor (2 – 5 years)) – 09 / 16 / 2011

My husband and I told our children together. At the time they were 14, 15 and 19. Although the diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer can be frightning, we tried not to pass that on to them. I was a little evasive about the actual stage and type of breast cancer. I followed my oncologist’s lead and was as positive as I could be. My husband and I both decided that leaning too heavily on them would be a little too much, especially at this age. Of course that’s not to say they didn’t have to pitch in and help! If I would do anything differently, I would only have tried to make a little more time to spend with each of them alone to talk about their reaction. At the time with so many appointments, chemo,and surgery, it was overwhelming.

DebbieWWGN (Survivor (2 – 5 years)) – 09 / 16 / 2011 From the time of my mammogram to actual diagnosis was five months. My husband and I decided to tell our children, ages 15 and 12, nothing until I was certain of the diagnosis and treatment plan. I have [...] continue the story

We each have a battle to fight

When I was fighting cancer I had two teenagers fighting their own battles, drugs. I am in the hospital, they are in rehab. As I am in surgery I am worried about them being out on the street using. I had my husband as a support system, but his Mother brought him up to believe that we are inferior if we get sick. He never went to a support group with me, he did go to my first doctor appointment when I found out that I had cancer, but that was the only appointment that he ever attended. I did the entire cancer experience alone. Please don’t allow any family member to do that. I consider myself a very strong woman, but that was a hard thing to do. I took care of my sister every day for three months after her diagnosis of matasis of breast cancer just three years before, up to the day she died, and here I am going through this alone. All my family lived out of state, my Mother was too elderly to come to my aid, my older sister just not there. I learned through this experience that if ANYONE I know is [...] continue the story

The 5th Season

Through the four seasons, the photographer Ladislas Kadyszewski follows the course of the illness of her friend Christine Leibivict learning to the age of 27 she is suffering from breast cancer. In 2008, the fifth season is open, out of competition, the first international film festival on breast cancer in Toronto.