Only seven days after her divorce, Christmas Hutchinson was diagnosed with breast cancer linked to a rare genetic predisposition. Said to be one of the toughest times of her life, mourning the loss of her marriage during treatment, Christmas opted to take life one step at a time. This process ultimately led her to write "The Resilient Mind: A Field Guide to Healthier Way of Life," a book containing fifteen wise and insightful tools of resilience via personal and vulnerable vignettes. In addition to writing and speaking, Christmas dedicates her time to helping women prioritize their physical and mental well-being. To read our latest In Her Words interview with this courageous, brave and benevolent woman, scroll down for the full story.
Name: Christmas Hutchinson
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Current Health Status: Breast Cancer Survivor in remission for 4 years
When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
I was diagnosed in October 2014. I found the lump in my breast randomly and called my doctor immediately. My doctor sent me to get a mammogram and the diagnosis came back as HER+ Stage 2b as there was cancer found in my lymph nodes. It was later discovered that my cancer was linked to a rare gene.
What were your first thoughts when you were diagnosed?
The first thought I had was how was I going to tell my mom that her daughter who lives 3k miles from her has a serious illness.
How did your friends and family take the news?
Everyone was sad and afraid for me because they really didn’t have experience with cancer.
Describe your treatment and how you arrived at that course of action.
My treatment included a lumpectomy and an axillary lymph node dissection. Additionally, I had 8 rounds of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiation. The process took about 10 months.
Were you able to work through treatment?
I did not work through treatment as my job was too demanding and required travel.
Where and how have you found the best care?
I was lucky enough to have a gynecologist who was affiliated with Johns Hopkins, which is where a received all of my care. Since my move to NYC, I am no longer with them, but I'm continuing care at Memorial Sloane Kettering.
Have you received any additional support or alternative therapies?
No, I did not go that route.
What or who have been your biggest supports? Who makes up your cancer tribe?
My sorority sisters were really helpful during the time of my treatment. I was president of our Alumnae chapter while receiving treatment and they were helpful with giving me a continued purpose to fight.
What has been one of the most challenging aspects of the experience for you?
I was mourning the loss of my marriage during the time of treatment.
What is one thing you wish you knew before you were diagnosed?
I can’t think of anything.
Is there a particular mantra or inspiration that helps you?
During my process, given that I was in such a low place in my life, I convinced myself that there would be awesome peaks on the other side of my treatment – I just needed to take one step at a time.
If you could offer a woman, who has been newly diagnosed, some words of wisdom for her journey, what would you tell her?
I would tell her to be brave and focus on what’s in front of her. That’s the key to staying alive and fighting the disease gracefully.
What are you most proud of in your cancer journey?
I am most proud of the fact that I could take my diagnosis and turn it into a beautiful experience. One where I can share my resilience with others through my writing and speaking.
How has breast cancer affected your outlook on life? On illness?
Breast cancer has given me the gift of knowing the fragility of life thus giving me the courage to live my life on my terms and be unapologetically me.
How have you changed?
I realized the beauty in life and I have now committed myself to show other women how to make their health, both physical and mental, a priority.