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Olivia Newton-John opens up about deathbed rumors and 'winning over' cancer

The singer, actress and activist sat down with Natalie Morales to share her inspiring outlook in the face of her recent health troubles. "You can be a victim, or you can be a winner and enjoy your life."
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/ Source: TODAY

Olivia Newton-John's new memoir, "Don't Stop Believin'," hits bookstores next week, and in it, she opens up about her extraordinary life, as well as her continuing battle with breast cancer.

But fans of the 70-year-old entertainment icon don't have to wait until it's out to learn more about what's been through, because she recently sat down with TODAY's Natalie Morales for an exclusive and revealing talk about it all.

Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John sat down for a revealing interview with TODAY's Natalie Morales.TODAY

In the book, Newton-John discusses the fact that her last cancer diagnosis, which her fans long believed was her second, was actually her third. She decided to keep that detail secret for some time — for a good reason.

"Because of the speculation," she explained in the interview. "I just decided I wanted to go through it myself. I don't know, it was just a decision that I'd keep it to myself that time."

And it's easy to see why she wanted to avoid the speculation. After all, when her last diagnosis became public knowledge, it sparked a flurry of reports claiming she was on her deathbed.

"They were telling me I was dying, and I thought, 'Well, I don't feel like it. I feel pretty good!'" she recalled. "But, you know, rumors start and then it gets out of control."

So Newton-John regained control by releasing a video announcing (and borrowing from Mark Twain): "Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

"I decided, no, I'm going to come out and talk about it because I have many friends and family all around the world, and I can't call everyone," she said of her public response. "So I needed to let them know that I'm OK."

And despite her ongoing struggle with cancer, that's how she sees herself, as doing OK — or even better.

She doesn't see herself as fighting cancer. As she's stated in the past, she's "thriving" against the disease, and now she has a new way of referring to it.

"Winning over," she said. "I think, you know, what you think creates your reality. So it's a decision. You have to make that decision. You can be a victim, or you can be a winner and enjoy your life."

The "Grease" star believes that positive outlook is an important part of making the most of whatever time she has. In fact, after everything she's been through, she considers anything she gets to be "extra time.

"We're all going to die," she noted. "I mean, that's probably the hardest thing to accept as a human being, that we know that. So I kind of consider I've had a gift of extra time. I've lost people younger than me, so I'm very grateful. I'm 70, and I've had the most amazing life."

That's why she greets each day with a sense of joy.

"I had extra time, so whatever that is, I'm grateful for it," she said, adding, "I'll just enjoy every day — that's all you can do."