Cancer has taken a lot from John Travolta; it has struck down two women he loved with all of his heart, and now, another woman precious to him battles it for the third time.
Cancer is one of the worst things to have hit humankind, and today it continues to be one disease humans fear and respect in equal measure.
It has affected many lives over the decades, but today let's look at the impact it has had on two different Hollywood celebrities, John Travolta and his former crush, Olivia Newton-John.
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John on "Grease" | Photo: Getty Images
Newton-John has been battling cancer for longer than some people have been alive, while Travolta has lost two women he loved to the medical condition. How did they manage to hold on? With lots of help and support from each other and loved ones.
NEWTON-JOHN'S HISTORY WITH CANCER
Newton-John, who became a pop culture icon after playing Sandy in 1978's hit movie "Grease," was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. The diagnosis came not long after her father's demise, a former MI5 agent who was part of the Enigma project at Bletchley Park.
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta at the Celebration of Paramount Studio's 90th Anniversary with the release of six all-time musical favorites on September 22, 2002, in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
Despite the grief she must have had to face, the talented singer/actress fought cancer with all her might, and for years, she lived free from it. However, all that changed when it returned in 2013 after her older sister, Rona, passed away.
Newton-John only discovered the recurrence after she got into a car accident. She was still dealing with her grief, but again, she triumphed. When it returned in 2017, Newton-John says she was not as shocked as she was the first two times. She said:
"It's been a part of my life for so long. I felt something was wrong. It's concerning when it comes back, but I thought: I'll get through it again."
With such a history, it's no wonder the Grammy award winner now calls herself a cancer "thriver." She still battles the disease, but every day she feels better thanks to her husband, John Easterling.
Newton-John has credited Easterling for his steadfastness in making sure she feels better and with his help, she has done well despite the condition. Of course, she has also had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
While Travolta secretly dealt with Preston's illness, Newton-John's triumph over the same sickness may have given him hope.
Since she believes there are even better, kinder ways to treat cancer, Newton-John has founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
Cancer has had a hand in shaping Newton-John into the person she has become. However, unlike many who persevere against the ailment, she sees it as "a gift" even though it's one she does not wish on anyone else.
For her, it is her life's journey, and it has given her purpose while teaching her about compassion. She wants people to know it is not a death sentence and refuses to let it overcome her.
NEWTON-JOHN'S RELATIONSHIP WITH TRAVOLTA
When John Travolta was cast as Danny in "Grease," he was already famous, and the same could be said for Newton-John, who already had a burgeoning music career.
In fact, she almost turned down the role because she was afraid that if the movie flopped, it would affect her music career. However, her fears never came to pass.
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta were cast alongside each other as smitten teens Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko. They played the role well, and one of the reasons why it was such a success was because the chemistry between the two was palpable.
What many didn't know was that the chemistry was real. According to a co-star of theirs who worked with them on the movie, John Travolta had the hots for Olivia Newton-John, so his attraction was not faked.
The two had so much fun working on the movie project they wanted to do another one immediately after, but Paramount Pictures were not supportive of the idea.
Even after the filming ended, the cast who had made genuine friendships on set never stopped talking to one another. Travolta and Newton-John held meet-and-greets in the years after, and they remained great friends.
That friendship proved to be a support Travolta needed when he lost two women he loved to cancer. The first woman was his then-girlfriend, Diana Hyland, as she passed away from breast cancer in 1977 when she was 41 and he was 23.
When Newton-John heard about his loss, she issued a statement that revealed how sad she was.
Diana Hyland was an actress famous for her roles in "Burke's Law" (1965) and "Smoky" (1966). She also starred alongside Travolta as his mother in 1976's "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble."
The second woman he lost to the terminal illness was Kelly Preston, his wife who died from breast cancer at the age of 57.
Kelly Preston fought the disease for two years before she succumbed to the illness. On Instagram, Travolta wrote a tribute that revealed that his wife fought courageously "with the love and support of so many," and that her "love and life will always be remembered."
While John Travolta secretly dealt with Preston's illness, Olivia Newton-John's triumph over the same sickness may have given him hope.
In an interview with ET, he praised her for how she was handling her own battle with cancer. "She looks incredible," he said at the time. "She doesn't look any different than [she did] years ago, and I'm very proud of her. I'm very happy about Olivia."
When Olivia Newton-John heard about his loss, she issued a statement that revealed how sad she was about the death of the woman she described as a "radiant, warm and gentle spirit."
With any luck, Olivia Newton-John's foundation's research will be able to pinpoint the benefits plant medicine can provide in the battle against cancer and perhaps other terminal diseases to prevent deaths like Preston's and Hyland's.
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