In 2003, Olivia Newton-John sent a teenage Delta Goodrem an encouraging letter while the young singer was in hospital, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
At a cover interview and shoot for WHO on May 7, the reigning Voice champion coach, soon to play her idol in the Seven miniseries Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You, shakes her head when she thinks about the years that has passed since that moment.
“My God,” Goodrem whispers. “Fifteen.”
Soon, though, she returns to her steely resolve. “It is still present in the sense that I still work with the hospitals,” she says, noting that she remains an ambassador for the Kinghorn Cancer Centre, which she visited at Christmas and notes there is a new haematology ward opening. “There’s no barrier, then, to have that conversation with people and their families,” she says. “Every day, all day, there is someone who has reached out to connect and it’s consistent. And it breaks your heart, but you try to be a pillar of strength to those in the fight, so in that way, there’s definitely the gift of being hopefully able to reach out and be able to keep some spirits the best you can.”
Reflecting a receive-love-so-give-love ethos, Goodrem says she is merely learning from Newton-John’s example. Staying close to her idol throughout the filming of the Seven biopic, the pair reunited in Sydney on May 6 with Goodrem reporting that Newton-John, who first battled breast cancer in 1992 and is lately fighting off a recurrence, “looks more beautiful than ever. She’s an absolute inspiration to those who are in the fight and the challenges that come her way. She rises above and she makes sure she makes a difference in the world.”
Citing the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne and the 10-year anniversary of her Great Wall Walk, Goodrem marvels, “She is so consistent in making a difference.”
To read more about how Delta carries on her guiding nature as a coach on The Voice and how she prepared to play Olivia in a new telemovie, pick up her cover story in WHO on newsstands today.
‘Olivia Newton-John: Hopelessly Devoted to You’ airs Sun., May 13 and May 20 at 7 PM on Seven. ‘The Voice’ airs Sun., May 13 at 7 PM and Mon., May 14 at 7.30 PM on Nine. The soundtrack ‘Delta Goodrem: I Honestly Love You’ is out May 11.