Only Olivia Fan Club

Star Plaza, Merrillville, IN

Sept 14, 2002

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Times  Sept 16 2002

  By Philip Potempa

Olivia Newton-John's 30-plus year career of hit songs, movies and concert tours aren't the primary focus when she talks about life accomplishments. It's her 16-year-old daughter Chloe and her 1992 diagnosis with breast cancer, followed by successful treatment, that rank first in her mind.

"Strength and positive attitude make all the difference in the fight against breast cancer," said Newton-John, who turns 54 on Sept. 26. "It's something happening all over the world. And it's programs like this that make a difference."

The singer performed a 90-minute concert Saturday at the Star Plaza Theatre, joined by her seven-member band and the Northwest Indiana Symphony. Following the performance, Newton-John appeared at a fund-raiser reception in the theater's Celebrity Lounge to talk about cancer education and awareness and meet with local survivors.

The post-concert event was actually arranged at Newton-John's request and coordinated and sponsored as a joint effort by the Star Plaza Theatre and the Breast Care Center of St. Anthony Medical Center. Proceeds from the reception benefited the Breast Cancer Center at St. Anthony Medical Center.

"I enjoy meeting and talking with people," said Newton-John, who graciously signed autographs and greeted reception guests. "One of the things I did tonight was to record a (public service announcement) about breast cancer. I hope this center meets its needed fund-raising goals."

Mary Stazinski, 77, of Hobart, was proud to talk with Newton-John since she shared the same medical struggles as the singer. "It was May 20, 1996, that I was diagnosed," Stazinski said. "That's a date you never forget. But I'm still here today, and now anyone I know I remind about how important it is to have a regular cancer check up."  Stazinski, who had her concert ticket autographed, said she believes it's wonderful that more people today share their own personal stories, which will help others in the future. "This used to be a topic people whispered about," she said. "Now, when you have someone like Olivia Newton-John talking about it in newspaper and magazine interviews, young people realize awareness is the most important part of spreading the word."

Newton-John, whose accomplished, well-publicized career is a contrast to her shy, quiet and understated off-stage persona, said she believes strength for everyday life's rough spots "comes from within. No one ever escapes all of life's difficulties," she said. "We all face different things that happen in each of our lives. But we must never give in."

Dr. Marylyn Rosencranz of St. Anthony Medical Center, who has worked in radiology for 20 years, said in addition to outreach efforts by survivors such as Newton-John, advances in technology are making treatment much easier today. We've had immense changes in just the last two decades," Rosencranz said. "With these new developments and the increased information and research available, it's becoming easier to see we are making serious progress."

Becky Grove, manager of the Breast Care Center at St. Anthony Medical Center, said she is proud of the advancements in today's cancer treatments. "Having people who care help us with their efforts and events such as tonight's reception makes all the difference," Grove said. "Olivia Newton-John is one of those people who really cares, and it shows."

With thanks to Lori

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