Olivia Newton-John has resumed her tour just three months after revealing she is facing breast cancer for the second time — and the star couldn’t be more grateful for the fans that stood by her.
“I’d like to thank any of you in the audience who have sent me cards and well wishes and prayers,” she told the crowd Thursday at her concert in Evansville, Indiana’s Victory Theatre — one of the rescheduled shows she had after postponing dates in May due to severe back pain she thought at the time was sciatica.
Doctors would soon diagnose the 68-year-old “Xanadu” singer with breast cancer that had metastasized to the sacrum.
It was the second time Newton-John had faced the disease. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and underwent a partial mastectomy, nine months of chemotherapy and a breast reconstruction. After beating the disease, she became an impassioned advocate for breast cancer research and early detection.
Earlier this month, Newton-John told fans she was “feeling great” and would be returning to the road. Thursday’s show at the Victory Theatre was the first in a series of concert dates that will keep her on the road until December.
While no meet and greets are being offered so Newton-John can “focus on performing the best show for everyone,” her site explained, the Grease star did receive one special message from a fan before Thursday’s show — and gave him the surprise of his life in return.
Before singing her 2006 song “Grace and Gratitude,” the star thanked guitarist Andy Timmons for surprising her at the show, her husband John Easterling, and Kentucky resident Byron Witham — a fan who was in the audience.
Turns out, Witham had shown up to the show with a bouquet of flowers for the star that he hoped to present her with on stage after she finished her first song. The arrangement came with a card that read “Dear Olivia, Welcome Back! Love, Byron Witham.”
Unfortunately, attendants at the Victory Theatre told him upon entering that he wouldn’t be able to do that. But an employee told him she would take the flowers to Newton-John instead. She even followed up with the Witham later on to tell them she had passed the bouquet on to the singer’s assistant.
Witham was “extremely happy” to know Newton-John was getting them, as he wrote on a Facebook post explaining what happened. Still, he was “a little miffed” he didn’t get to give them to her himself.
All that went flying out the window when Newton-John mentioned his name. “And I’d like to thank a very kind gentleman in the audience, Byron Witham, for his beautiful flowers — they’re so lovely,” she said, in video Witham added to his post.
It’s unclear what happened after that. The video cuts off — right as Witham drops his phone.
“I nearly died!” he said. “I was filming this without knowing I would even be mentioned. It happens at the end of this video, and you hear me begin to say, ‘Oh My God’….but I dropped my phone! LOL! I cried for the rest of the concert.”