Newton-John to visit Moffitt cancer patients

Breast cancer patients at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center will receive some inspiration and encouragement today from singer/actor Olivia Newton-John.

While in town for a concert at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Newton-John will visit Moffitt to take a tour of the center with several physicians, in addition to meeting with a selected group of patients who are undergoing cancer treatment, said Patricia Goldsmith, vice president of institutional development, public affairs and marketing at Moffitt.

Newton-John is also a breast cancer survivor. In the 1990s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after overcoming her battle with cancer, she co-founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre in conjunction with Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre in Australia.

Many of those who have been closely affected by breast cancer and helped by her organization have said Newton-John is a positive inspiration for them, Goldsmith said.

A portion of the ticket sales from Newton-John’s upcoming performance will also be donated to Moffitt in order to support cancer research.

Presently, Moffitt does not know what percentage of ticket sales it will receive.

“We are very excited to have a public figure and such a beloved (artist) come to the Moffitt Cancer Center to see patients and hopefully give them some hope and inspiration, which is important when you’re battling cancer,” Goldsmith said.

On her visit, Newton-John will be touring the facilities and holding a reception that will allow physicians and patients to meet the famous singer. For those selected patients that cannot go to the reception because of medical reasons, Newton-John will personally visit them, Goldsmith said.

She added that the select patients who will be visited by Newton-John are chosen based on three criteria. Possible patients are those suffering from breast cancer who are fans of the singer/actor or would like to meet her and who might be cheered up from meeting her.

Goldsmith said she wants one specific patient at Moffitt to be visited by Newton-John because she wrote a song for one of her albums. The patient is currently undergoing a bone-marrow transplant at Moffitt. Goldsmith did not know the name of the patient or the song, but hopes he or she gets a visit.

Newton-John’s visit was made possible through the generosity of one of Moffitt’s foundation board members, Suzette Berkman and her husband Monroe Berkman. Both Newton-John and Monroe work closely with the Florida Orchestra.

Newton-John is not the only public figure to visit Moffitt. There has been a recent trend of public figures who have visited people battling cancer. Several months ago country music singer Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill visited McGraw’s father Tug, who was being treated at Moffitt.

“As the organization continues to grow and become more prominent, we are very fortunate that we have a number of individuals that tend to visit us,” Goldsmith said.