Olivia Newton-John’s Death Is a Reminder of the Need for Affordable, Accessible Breast Cancer Treatments and Care in Wisconsin

By Christina Lorey

August 11, 2022

Komen Wisconsin will host its biggest fundraising events of the year starting this month. The organization is not only focused on research, but on supporting women, both financially and emotionally.

Olivia Newton-John was frequently asked how she stayed genuinely optimistic despite three cancer diagnoses. 

“I look at my cancer journey as a gift,” she famously said. “It made me slow down and realize the important things in life and taught me not to sweat the small stuff.”

Although the pop music legend lost her five-year fight with metastatic cancer Monday, millions of other women continue theirs. Newton-John left a legacy of cancer research support—work that will continue to take place and continue to require resources.

Breast Cancer By the Numbers

  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). 
  • In Wisconsin, breast is now the second most common form of cancer (behind prostate), and the fifth most deadly. 
  • 33% of Wisconsin women are behind on their mammograms. 
  • The ACS recommends all women get a yearly mammogram starting at 45.
  • Non-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic Black women are at the highest risk for breast cancer, although Black women are 50% more likely to die because of healthcare inequities.
  • Men can also get breast cancer, although their risk is much lower. An estimated 500 will die from the disease this year.
  • Today, there are more than 4 million breast cancer survivors, more than any other cancer group.

How to Help

As the numbers show, anyone fighting or supporting someone with breast cancer is not alone. Susan G. Komen, the largest national breast cancer organization, offers services in all 72 Wisconsin counties.

Its mission is two-fold: to create a world where no one dies from breast cancer, through research, education, and early screening, and to support those currently fighting, both financially and emotionally.

Wisconsin has several “More Than Pink” walks coming up, some as soon as this month. The events, sponsored by Susan G. Komen, raise money to help women pay for the little things they may not think of—rides to and from appointments, childcare during those appointments, and more.

“I think many of us take life for granted, and a diagnosis such as cancer can really make people look at their life and ask, ‘Am I living in a way that is most fulfilling to me?’” Nikki Panico, Executive Director of Komen Wisconsin, explained.

Nikki found herself asking that question after she learned she had breast cancer at age 39, the same year both her mother and sister died of the disease within one month of each other. 

“It’s easy to get caught up in both the ‘business’ and the ‘busy-ness’ of life,” she continued. “Adding a meaningful purpose requires sacrifices, but it’s always better if your suffering has some meaning to it. So if you perceive that it’s teaching you something or changing you in some positive way, there is a reason to keep going.”

Best of all, all money raised through Komen’s More Than Pink walks stays local: helping your neighbors, your family members, and, maybe, you.

Click here to find your nearest walk and join or donate to a team today!

How to Get Help

If you or someone you know is currently fighting breast cancer, take advantage of Susan G. Komen’s network. Wisconsin’s chapter has screening and diagnostic programs and information on financial assistance  . To access them, call 1-877-465-6636 or email [email protected].

Olivia Newton-John’s Death Is a Reminder of the Need for Affordable, Accessible Breast Cancer Treatments and Care in Wisconsin


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.



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