PITTSBURG — With moving and taking care of family, Pittsburg Resident Kristy Hutchison put her mammograms on hold.
But, when she finally went, the doctors gave her bad news — cancer.
In April, Hutchison finally went for a routine mammogram and the doctors noticed some asymmetry in her breasts.
The doctors asked her to come back for a second mammogram. On May 2 she had a biopsy and found out she had cancer two days later.
“It was a whirlwind,” she said. “It happened really quickly, first they found some asymmetry and then I had another mammogram and ultrasound, a biopsy, and a couple days later I was diagnosed with cancer.”
When she went in for the second mammogram and ultrasound, Hutchison said she was sure she didn’t have cancer.
In the past, she said she was told breastfeeding would lower the chances of breast cancer, so she felt confident that she didn’t because she breastfed six children for a total of eight years of her life.
“You think, ‘I did all the things to lower the risk,’’ she said. “When it comes to cancer, you either have it or you don’t.”
Hutchison said her family and friends have been helpful as she goes through each milestone week-by-week and celebrate the progress.
“Every week we take picture with what number [of chemotherapy] it is,” she said. “Progressive recording of how I started and what it’s been like along the way.”
Hutchison said her experience has been humbling.
“You realize you can’t do everything you used to,” she said. “Instead of being upset I’m thankful I get another day … I don’t let it get me down — it’s temporary.”
Hutchison said she is thankful for Via Christi Cancer Center, which is right down the street from her home.
“When I was diagnosed, God put me across from the hospital for a reason,” she said. “I was meant to go there.
“They have been wonderful. I am very blessed to have such a great resource in our town.”
She said most of all she has time to visit with her children up to 10 minutes before her chemotherapy treatment.
“It means so much to me,” she said. “I don’t have to plan a trip that is two or so hours away.”
She said she’s amazed at what medications the center can provide to patients like her, which helped prevent the side effects of treatments.
“It is amazing what they can give you so you don’t suffer like they used to — for depression and pain,” Hutchison said. “I haven’t been sick at all, the premeds really worked.”
Hutchison said she urges people to not put off their routine mammograms and do the self examinations.
She has two more weeks of chemotherapy to go and in November will have a mastectomy.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.