Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Source: Montgomery Newspapers
By Mike Morsch
As a breast cancer survivor, Olivia Newton-John learned that supporting one’s mind and spirit was just as important as supporting one’s body. And once she determined that she had beaten the cancer, the award-winning musician, actress and advocate decided she would share her experience with the rest of the world.
Folks from this area will get a chance to hear that message in person when Newton-John headlines a two-day event that focuses on health, wellness and environmental conservation called “Olivia: Voices For Healing . . . Our Planet . . . Ourselves” March 26 and 27 at West Chester University.
The event is a benefit for the ACEER Foundation (Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research), the College of Health Sciences Annual Integrative Health Conference and Masters of Public Health (MPH) with Integrative Health Track and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre Appeal.
“I’m not an expert, I’m not a cancer doctor. I’m just a woman who has been through the experience and here I am 18 years later and I’m OK,” said Newton-John in a recent telephone interview from her home in West Palm Beach, Fla. “As women, I think we tend to not take care of ourselves because we put everybody else first. So I have little pointers for women in that area of things they can do to make sure they do that.”
Newton-John will give the keynote address with co-presenter Dr. Jonathan Cebon, director of oncology at Austin Health in Melbourne, Australia, at West Chester University’s 11th Integrative Health Conference on Friday evening.
But it’s Saturday evening, when the event culminates with a gala dinner and concert, that will be of particular interest to fans of Newton-John’s music. That’s because she plans to perform in concert for the first time her entire album “Grace and Gratitude.”
“I’ve never performed it as a concert before,” said Newton-John. “It’s all original material [that she co-wrote with Amy Sky]. I’ve done maybe two or three songs off the album in my shows, but I have never done it as a whole concert. So it’s a whole different way for me to go. The songs are really important to me because they connected me to my husband.”
That would be John Easterling, her second husband, founder and president of the Amazon Herb Company, a natural remedy firm. The two had been friends for years before they married.
“He came to a show of mine that I had invited him to and heard these songs and felt they were so human that he wanted to take me to the Amazon,” said Newton-John. “He invited me to go down there and that’s what kind of connected us. So it’s kind of full circle.”
Newton-John and Easterling have been supporters of ACEER for years. The president of the nonprofit organization, which has worked for rainforest conservation and community education in the Peruvian Amazon, is Roger Mustalish, who has an office at West Chester University. It was through Newton-John and Easterling’s connection with Mustalish that the health, wellness and environmental conservation event came about.
“It’s a big shock to any woman — or man — when they find out they have breast cancer,” said Newton-John. “I found that I mixed the Western therapies and the Eastern therapies and that really helped me greatly. I went through chemotherapy and surgery, but I also used herbs, acupuncture, meditation and visualization, all the things that would help my spirit as well.”
With a career that has spanned four decades, Newton-John, 61, has sold more than 50 million albums, is a four-time Grammy Award winner who has had five No. 1 hits, including “Physical” in 1981. By then, she already had attained superstardom for her co-starring role with John Travolta in the 1978 film version of “Grease.”
Proceeds from the event will help further the conservation mission of the ACEER Foundation, both in the United States and abroad; will support the annual Integrative Conference and West Chester University’s MPH Integrative Programs; and will help build the first integrative cancer treatment and wellness center in Australia.
“Not everyone is as healthy as I am and I am very fortunate,” said Newton-John. “Cancer is not necessarily a death sentence and you can survive it. I just feel incredibly grateful and positive about it that I can help others and create this wonderful cancer and wellness center. The wellness kinds of balances the word ‘cancer’ that scares so many people.”