Why Olivia Newton-John's damehood holds extra significance

Arise, Dame Olivia!

By Judy Kean
Her shelves are full of awards, but Olivia Newton-John's latest accolade has extra significance.
The Grease star received a damehood in the British New Year Honours, and says she's delighted with the recognition.
"I am extremely excited, honoured and grateful beyond words to be included with such an esteemed group of women who have received this distinguished award before me," says Dame Olivia (71), who thanked the Queen "for graciously approving me as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire".
"As a girl born in Cambridge, I am very proud of my British ancestry and so appreciative to be recognised in this way by the United Kingdom."
Olivia, a granddaughter of German Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born, moved to Australia when she was six after her father Wilfred, a former MI5 officer, became a professor of German at the University of Melbourne.
As a teen, she won a TV talent quest, with a trip to England as the prize.
She launched her career there, finding success in the early 1970s with songs such as Banks of the Ohio, Let Me Be There and I Honestly Love You, but it was playing Sandy opposite John Travolta in 1978's Grease that catapulted her to superstardom.
She quickly capitalised with back-to-back hits Magic, Xanadu and Physical, and also starred in the Xanadu movie.
She was honoured not just for services to the entertainment industry, but also for her tireless work as a cancer campaigner.
After developing breast cancer in 1992, she set up the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne and has raised millions of dollars for research and awareness.
She was clear of the disease for many years but in 2013, after a car accident, doctors found cancer in her shoulder.
In 2017, the singer revealed the cancer had again returned, this time in her spine, and was stage four.
"I'm still here!" Cancer sufferer Olivia refuses to discuss her life expectancy.
In an interview last year, Olivia said she didn't want to know what her life expectancy was.
"When you're given a cancer diagnosis or a scary illness diagnosis, you are suddenly given a possibility of a time limit. If you believe the statistics, you're going to make them happen."
She added, "I'm so lucky that I've been through this three times and I'm still here. Every day is a gift now."

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