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Hello! Exclusive: ‘Olivia Newton-John gave me the strength to continue as a breast cancer thriver’

Mutual friend Sir Barry Gibb introduced them

As a fellow breast cancer thriver, Olivia Newton-John gave her friend and country singer Kelly Lang the strength to "continue on".

Introduced through their mutual friend Sir Barry Gibb – they both had an instant bond as mothers, singers, writers and a shared connection to breast cancer that Olivia called thrivers. Kelly, a 17-year breast cancer thriver, had to put a "brave face" on when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36, with two young girls to look after.

Now in our Breast Cancer Awareness Month special, the musician has lovingly talked about how her friend Olivia inspired her with her "big heart" and was like a "big sister" to her.

She told HELLO!: "Having been a breast cancer patient myself, she gave me the strength to continue on. She gave me inspiration, where she got it I don’t know. I think her heart was so big to help others through something she had to go through.

"She used her platform to be of help to others, of course her Cancer Research and Wellness Hospital was a direct bond of love for her. She was selfless, that was the reason she was so enormously loved."

In her own words, Olivia said they had an "unspoken connection" and affectionately called Kelly her best friend. She wrote in the forward to Kelly’s book I’m Not Going Anywhere in 2021: "We realised we were fellow thrivers and have been best friends ever since. There is an unspoken connection between women who share this experience, and Kelly and I have that bond."

Olivia and Kelly
They become close friends over the years

Their friendship began when they first met at Sir Barry’s Love Hope Ball in Florida in 2007 and again at Barry’s house the next day. Looking back, Kelly said of their first meeting: "Olivia was just being her beautiful self. We really connected on such a beautiful level, we had so many things in common: We’re both mothers, we’re both singers, we’re both writers, obviously we had a connection to breast cancer she calls thrivers and I love to adapt that terminology."

It was the start of their beautiful friendship for more than a decade until Olivia sadly passed away at her ranch in California earlier this year in August. She added: "Olivia had a vibe of her about a big sister, she wanted to make sure not only myself, but everybody was taken care of first.

"Every time I had any kind of doctor’s visit, I didn’t think it was a big deal, but she was calling me to see what the doctor said, you know, she’s just a very unique one-of-a-kind angel. I don’t even call her a human; she was an angel."

Kelly is excited to have sung a duet with the Grease actress that is coming out soon on Olivia’s Greatest Hits Deluxe Edition due out later in October. Olivia, of course, was an inspiration to her when it comes to music.

Sir Barry Gibb and Olivia Newton-John
Sir Barry introduced Olivia and Kelly to each other and they became close

"She would give me notes on every song I had written," she said. "She had the authority for me to trust her. I had such admiration."

Olivia would also make the most incredible gestures for her friends. "She will send you things. For my birthday this year, she sent me a beautiful orchid," Kelly said. "When she loves you, you know it."

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