Tottie Goldsmith says her famous aunt, Olivia Newton John, has “never dome a drug in her life”. Now she’s desperate to take make one legal.
By Luke Dennehy, news.com.au
The niece of Olivia Newton-John has come out strongly in support of the Australian icon as she fights to make medicinal cannabis more available for every day Australians.
Tottie Goldsmith, 56, says it has been remarkable to see the positive effect of medicinal cannabis on her aunt as she fights stage four-breast cancer. It is the third time she has battled the cancer.
“I was with her in Melbourne last year when she was in hospital going through her treatment undercover, I was in there every second day and we even had her birthday in there,” Goldsmith told news.com.au.
“We were sneaking around and she was at her worst. To see her now, I haven’t physically seen her in Los Angeles but on FaceTime and on 60 Minutes, to see her getting better is a relief.
Newton-John, 70, is lobbying the Australian Government to make it easy to have access to medicinal cannabis, something she has been doing to fight the cancer with the help of her husband John Easterling at her ranch in Los Angeles.
Goldsmith said it is inspiring to see Newton-John speaking out so publicly about the issue of medicinal cannabis and is encouraging the whole nation to get behind her.
“Just seeing her speak the truth about what has helped is so poignant, powerful and important,” Goldsmith said.
“My thoughts are that it’s insane it’s not easily available in Australia for patients.
“I’ve spent a lot of time speaking to John Easterling about it, about all the different strains and the different specific things about it.
“I go in to the hospital (the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre) with Liv to see patients and they have anxiety, they are in pain, they have trouble sleeping.
“If we can’t help them with a natural herb, to me that is cruel.
“I think the most important thing is to demystify it and for people to understand, it’s not about getting stoned, it’s about getting comfortable.
“I’m just so proud of her.”
Goldsmith backed up Easterling, who on 60 Minutes said his wife was never part of the drug culture in the music business.
For Newton-John, medicinal cannabis is all about getting healthy again.
“She has never done a drug in her life,” Goldsmith said. “This is not about drugs, it’s about medicine.”
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Never in a million years would I have imagined Liv at the helm of ANYTHING to do with cannabis but I’m so incredibly proud of her leading a change that this amazing plant offers. People who need the benefits of this wonder herb to cope with terrible illnesses simply deserve access to it. Please sign the petition to decriminalize medicinal cannabis at www.change.org 🌿 . . . . #medicinalcannabis #medicinalherbs @therealonj @amazonjohneasterling
There are signs medicinal cannabis is getting easier to access for patients in Australia, perhaps partly due to Newton-John’s recent campaigning.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved more and more patients’ usage of medicinal cannabis.
In a report in Melbourne’s Herald Sun last week Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced companies would be able to apply for “major project status” to make it easier to actually harvest medicinal cannabis.
At the moment there are 69 licences to grow medicinal cannabis in Australia.
It’s tipped eventually it could be billion dollar industry in Australia in coming years.
In Victoria, Reason Party MP Fiona Patten is hoping to go one step further. She hopes to legalise cannabis recreationally, which has already happened across some States in the United States, including Newton-John’s home State of California.
Newton John’s hospital in Melbourne is also conducting trials into medicinal cannabis.
“I saw Olivia before and after her pelvis was fractured, she was in so much pain, it was so hard to watch,” she said.
“To think that a natural herb that our earth produces can help you through that pain and anxiety, then why not?
“I don’t get it. My stomach gets tight when I think about it.”
Newton-John fractured her pelvis while in Melbourne last September.
It was then that she celebrated her 70th birthday in hospital, the hospital she built from scratch. She continues to use medical cannabis every day as she strives to get better and manage her pain.
She had planned to have a huge birthday party in Los Angeles, but that was put on hold.
Before she fractured her pelvis she had months of excruciating pain, “sleep depriving, crying out loud pain,” and with the help of medicinal cannabis, that pain was managed.
“I was on morphine because the pain was that intense,” Newton-John told 60 Minutes.
“I was terrified of starting it, because I know it’s a very hard thing to ween off.
“But I’m now off it, and I weened myself off it with cannabis.”
She told 60 Minutes that she isn’t prescribed a certain amount of cannabis everyday, taking it in drops of oil every night.
She has learnt what is right for her
“You learn by the feel, it’s like anything … I’m very pro cannabis.”
Goldsmith is not surprised how hard Newton-John is fighting, despite having stage four breast cancer.
“She is amazing,” she said. “I think so much of it is the power of thought as well. She really understands the chemicals that are released if we feel fear, and she has a very strong mind and I think that is helping her heal. She is just a beacon, she really is.”
Her whole life, Goldsmith said Newton-John had always put others ahead of herself.
“She has always been a massive empath,” she said. “From her big shows and the meet and greets with fans backstage, it was always inquiring about other people. She’s never been comfortable talking about herself.”
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#Repost @onjcancercentre with @get_repost ・・・ If you know someone with cancer or you are a cancer thriver then why not join Olivia by attending our annual fun run, The Wellness Walk and Research Run on Sunday 6 October. Our early bird offer ends on Wednesday 31 July. Link in bio! #WWRR19 #WinOverCancer #MakeYourStepsCount #cancerresearch
Goldsmith said walking through the hospital in Melbourne it is remarkable to see the impact Newton-John has on patients.
“They get stunned to begin with, then they are in awe of her because she has got this light,” she said.
“Take away her celebrity, she has a warmth and a love that she exudes, because she has been through their journey.”
The first stage of the Olivia Newton John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre opened in Melbourne in 2015, after the Australian icon spent years raising millions for the project.
Last year, at a surprise function in Melbourne, Newton-John made her niece a goodwill ambassador of the hospital she built from scratch.
“No one told me, it was such an incredible moment,” Goldsmith said.
Newton-John will auction off those iconic pants she wore as Sandy in Grease later in the year and she hopes to raise at least $1 million for charity.
Goldsmith believes she will get there.
“She will get a million bucks, but I’m not sure who could ever fit in them,” she joked.
The annual Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre will take place again this year in Melbourne on October 6.
To register or for more information, go to www.wellnesswalkresearchrun.com.au.
Luke Dennehy is a freelance journalist. Continue the conversation via @LukeDennehy