Six weeks after Sandra Hutchens announced she had breast cancer, the first female sheriff in Orange County Tuesday that she has undergone three rounds of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy is set for mid-February and the tumor she found on her own is getting smaller.
"The news that, yes, it's getting softer, it's shrinking. Wow, that was good news," Hutchens said.
Hutchens vowed to continue working despite the diagnosis.
"Nobody wants to sit home and let your mind go to that dark place, which it will if you just sit home and just think about it," she said.
A mammogram six months prior to her diagnosis found nothing, she said during her formal announcement on Nov. 26. Hutchens found the two-centimeter lump herself, and said doctors believe it was found early and is treatable.
She said she feels lucky to be responding so well to the treatments that zap her energy and her appetite. She also shared that she’s wearing a wig.
"It's not something you look forward to, losing your hair," Hutchens said, "but in the whole scheme of things, I have to say, it's not the worst thing in the world."
The sheriff said she's not used to being the one in need. Strangers have sent blankets, hats and get-well cards.
"I'm used to being the one who helps the vulnerable," Hutchens said. "I don't like the feeling, but you have to give in to it because you don't have any control."
What she can control are the choices about her treatments. After the surgery, there will be more chemotherapy and radiation.
"I'm feeling really well, and I like to say, other than the cancer, I'm a pretty healthy girl," Hutchens said.
Hutchens also encouraged more women to get mammograms and pay attention to their bodies.
"I know why people don't do it. They don't want the bad news," Hutchens said. "Better to get the bad news while you can still do something about it."