Olivia Newton-John’s daughter Chloe Lattanzi opens up about watching her mum battle cancer

''I said, 'Why didn't you tell me? I could have taken care of you.'''
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Olivia Newton-John’s only daughter Chloe Lattanzi has opened up about her mother’s battle with breast cancer and the heartwrenching impact it has had on her life.

Olivia was first diagnosed in 1992 when Chloe was six. While the four-times Grammy winner went into remission after eight months of treatment, the illness returned in 2013, then again for a third time in 2017. It is classified as stage four breast cancer and at the beginning of 2019 the family had to go through the horrific experience of shutting down rumours that the Grease star had just weeks to live.

In a rare and emotional 60 minutes interview, in which journalist Liz Hayes speaks to both mother and daughter, each reveals how she is dealing personally with Olivia’s illness. They also both reveal that they don’t talk about it often together.

Olivia says, “She’s my daughter, she’s part of me and I know she gets affected.”

Chloe clarifies, “We don’t need to talk about it… If she’s having a day where she needs to talk about it, I’m there to listen and to always reassure. I’ll never bring it up unless she wants to.”

But she also shares that she wishes she’d been talked to about it more as a child.

Chloe first learned her mother had cancer from another student at school.

“I was upset with her because I wanted to take care of her. I said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me? I could have taken care of you.’

“Not talking about it made it more powerful, because it created a much bigger monster than it really was… I think explaining it to me would have given me more of a sense of control. I feel for my mum though because, god, imagine having to tell your daughter; she didn’t want me to have to stress.”

Olivia Newton-John and her husband John Easterling at the Wellness Walk and Research Run in 2018 in Melbourne. The annual event raises vital funds to support cancer research and wellness programmes at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Victoria. Image: Getty

When Olivia’s illness returned in 2013 Chloe felt shock, anger and denial.

“I’ve always just seen my mum overcome, but I would wake up in night sweats and have panic attacks, I pushed it, I didn’t deal with it.”

Despite Olivia trying her hardest to keep her illness out of the public eye, even wearing a disguise while she was being treated at her own hospital, the public found out and Chloe hated the fact everyone knew.

“I didn’t really like that everyone knew. It annoyed me.

“It’s a really private, painful, draining… I just felt protective and I didn’t like these strangers giving me advice or telling me what mum should or shouldn’t… I was just pissed. I was mad because if anyone doesn’t deserve to go through cancer it’s my mum.

“I felt like my mum and my family needed to be protected and even though you can hide from people you can still feel that energy. I didn’t want them to write stories and her be reminded that she’s sick. I didn’t want people to say she’s looking sick; I didn’t want anyone instilling fear in her.”

A 14-year-old Chloe with her mum at the 27th Annual American Music Awards. Image: Getty

It has been no secret that Chloe, 33, has faced her own struggles with drug and alcohol addiction and the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, over the years.

She calls them her own “cancers”.

“We all have our cancers. You know, mine is my battle with addiction. I have to keep myself sober the rest of my life and that’s a fight and it takes work.

“I’m not trying to make her struggle sound small. I’m trying to say, I think it makes it easier to deal with when you go, ‘Oh yeah, everyone has a cancer’.”

She believes seeing her mum in so much pain has helped her overcome her own.

“Her illness helped heal my illness. I knew I needed to be… I wanted to be bright and happy and available and around for my mum when she was struggling with this…”

You felt you had to be your best for your mum?, Lisa asked her.

“Yeah, this is finite, this is a really black and white thing… There’s no more running away from your pain. Deal with it, she needs you,” Chloe replied.

“I feel like I’ve just become a much better person.”

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