Cancer Care

Virginia Mason Memorial is Austyn Hutton’s Team for Everything

Virginia Mason Memorial is Austyn Hutton’s Team for Everything

image descriptionNorth Star Lodge Cancer Care Center

Austyn Hutton had her first child, son Lyon, at Virginia Mason Memorial (VMM) in 2011. A little over a year later, she had son Blaise there, too. Three years later, Austyn was back at VMM’s Family Birthplace to deliver twins, Lola Jane and Easton Shepherd.

And from there to North Star Lodge, Virginia Mason Memorial’s cancer care center. Austyn, 27-years-old and almost eight months pregnant with twins, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

“Virginia Mason Memorial is my team for everything,” she says. It’s a busy weekday afternoon at the Hutton house. The living room looks like rush hour for kids: They’re everywhere. “I was diagnosed right before the twins were born.”

That would be Feb. 2, 2016, what she calls “The Worst Day of My Life” in her blog about her journey as a “wife, mom, coffee lover and cancer thriver.” It is a no-holds-barred look at Austyn’s life as she works through it, including her struggle with anxiety, depression, anger, lack of energy, her decision to seek therapy and more. 

“I was 30-weeks pregnant with our twins when I found the lump. The following day, I was then sent in for an ultrasound on my breast. Then I was sent in for a biopsy and mammogram.

“I actually found it the same day I was told that our daughter wasn’t growing the way she should be and I would need to lay low. According to my doctor’s orders, I was lying on the couch all day, every day, so more blood would go to Lola’s placenta, giving her a better chance to grow. So, I was basically on bed rest and lay on the couch with my 4-year-old and 2-year-old and watched TV ... for literally hours and hours.

“'It would be totally insane to have breast cancer,' I thought. I have no family history. And I had never heard of someone in their 20s getting breast cancer. I thought what was probably happening was because I was in my third trimester with two babies. Lots of weird stuff can happen to your body, especially your breasts. I figured the results would come back as no big deal and life would go on.

“Trevor, my husband, met me at `Ohana Breast Health Center and we sat together, waiting. Our nurse navigator, the woman who had the horrible job of delivering the news, and would later become so important to me, came and took us back to a private room. We sat down and tried to act like life-changing news wasn’t going to happen.

“She looked at me and said, ‘Your results came back positive.’

“She was loving and incredibly sympathetic. She later told me she cried when she read my results and that this was only the second time she’d had to deliver this news to a pregnant woman in the 20-plus years she’d worked there.”

“Because I go to the cancer center five days a week, I have been really getting to know everyone who works there. I feel like I’m visiting with my friends instead of going to a treatment appointment. I always leave with a smile on my face. The staff at North Star Lodge does an amazing job, treating their patients like friends.”

Ten days before the twins were born, Austyn was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Seven weeks after they were born, she started six months of chemotherapy. Then came a lumpectomy, where cancer was also found in nearby lymph nodes. Stage 2 became Stage 3 and she had a second surgery to remove more lymph nodes, also an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) followed by seven weeks of radiation.

She tells her readers, “In January of 2017, almost a full year after I began treatment, I finished. I then began my life as a cancer survivor.”

Austyn Hutton, cancer thriver, shares her feelings about the care she received at North Star Lodge Cancer Care Center and `Ohana Breast Health Center in her blog:

“Because I go to the cancer center five days a week, I have been really getting to know everyone who works there. I feel like I’m visiting with my friends instead of going to a treatment appointment. I always leave with a smile on my face. The staff at North Star Lodge does an amazing job, treating their patients like friends.

“At the beginning of treatment, we decided that at the end of it all we would throw a giant party and invite anyone and everyone who wants to come. So if you are on our medical team, come! If you babysat our kids, cooked us meals, ran errands for us, come! If you prayed for us, sent us encouraging messages, or have just been following our story, COME — I don’t have cancer anymore!”

Most recently, she wrote: “Since treatment has ended, I get mammograms every six months as part of my routine checkups. They are a fairly quick and painless scan, and I can be in and out of `Ohana in about 20 minutes.”

If Austyn had to choose one takeaway from her experience, it would be this: “Don’t wait until you’re 40. Self-exams should start now.”

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