On Aug. 8, fans around the world were saddened by the news that Olivia Newton-John had died at the age of 73. An official cause of death for the beloved singer and actor wasn’t given, but she had been battling breast cancer for years. While Newton-John is known for hits such as “Physical” and “I Honestly Love You” and movies including Grease and Xanadu, she was also an advocate for others with breast cancer and even founded her own foundation.
During one recent interview, the late Newton-John’s care for others battling the disease was on full display. And in the wake of the news of her death, a clip of the star connecting with and showing compassion for Today anchor Hoda Kotb has been circulating on social media and mentioned in her obituaries. Kotb, who herself is a breast cancer survivor, spoke to Newton-John in October 2021, and when Newton-John turned the tables and asked her a simple question, it brought Kotb to tears. Read on to find out more about the touching moment.
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Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time in 1992, and then again twice more. When the cancer returned in 2017, it had spread to her back and was considered stage 4 metastatic cancer.
The singer and actor founded the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund to fund research and treatments, specifically into plant medicine.
“I feel really positive and very excited about bringing this foundation and a lot of knowledge to people, and funding research to find out lots of answers—to find kinder treatments for cancer,” she shared with Good Morning America in 2020. “The inspiration has been a long one because I’ve been on this cancer journey for 28 years. I’m a thriver of three times going through this process.”
Kotb was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and underwent a mastectomy as treatment. She’s now been cancer-free for years and has continued to speak out and advocate for others who receive the same diagnosis.
In October 2021, Kotb interviewed Newton-John and opened up about her perspective on having cancer.
“A long time ago, I was diagnosed with cancer,” Kotb said on Today. “And I was incredibly healthy and I remember them finding a lump, and I said, ‘Oh, you must be mistaken.’ And I remember realizing in that moment—I’m an optimist, too. I didn’t want to know any of the testing. I didn’t want to get into the weeds. Being naive sometimes is a blessing.”
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After Kotb shared her thoughts, Newton-John said, “I agree with you. And I’m really sorry you went through that. I didn’t know that about you.” Then, she asked questions that really moved Kotb: “Are you well now? You feeling good?”
Kotb teared up and responded, “Yes, I am feeling good. By the way, I’m just going to pause for a second. Another wonderful thing about you is what you just did there. Thank you … Thank you for asking.”
Newton-John said, “We’re sisters. Anyone that has gone through this journey with cancer, it’s unknown destinations and surprises and turns.”
After the news of Newton-John’s death broke on Monday, Kotb posted about the entertainer on social media and looked back on the meaningful moment they shared.
“I am heartbroken,” Kotb wrote on Instagram. “Olivia Newton John touched so many people..including me. She radiated hope and love… I’ll never forget my interview with her….– but she kept asking questions about me. As i steered the conversation back to her… she turned it back again. That never happens. She was always all about shining the light on someone else. Now that light is all yours Olivia. Rest In Peace.”