There was no history of breast cancer ever revealing itself in her family’s history.
In fact, she'd tell you she had an excellent immune system, hardly ever seeing a sick day. That's why it came as a surprise when Peggy Hutton was told she had breast cancer.
"Each year I have a mammogram, and each year it becomes a bit of a routine," Peggy said. "For several years I've had to go an extra step and have a diagnostic performed after the standard procedure. They always see something but aren't sure if it's something to be concerned about."
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But this year things changed. After the diagnostic Peggy's doctor compared year's worth of x-rays and thought more examination needed to be taken.
"The doctor said ‘see that right there' pointing to the x-ray," Peggy said. "I'd like to biopsy that. I can't tell you it's cancer, but I can't tell you it isn't."
Erring on the side of caution, Peggy agreed.
"So the doctor placed a titanium marker in the suspected area of the breast and said if there's nothing, you'll see the tag when you have your mammogram. That's good," Peggy said. "But, if there is something wrong, then the marker will pinpoint the problem area making it easy to find."
Following her mammogram in April, Peggy went to see her doctor, receiving the news no one wants to hear.
"You have breast cancer," she was told.
"All of those time going through diagnostic tests and there was nothing, and yet this year there was. I almost didn't go in for my mammogram - after all, it had always been the same – but I did go."
She said news of her results hit her husband Gary hard.
"He was devastated," she said. "It hit him much harder than it hit me. We talked about it and just said we'd get through this, together."
Options, Oh and Vacation
"After I found out I had cancer I was set up with an Oncologist – Dr. Jessica Hals with Texas Oncology – she's amazing," Peggy said. "She showed me several things and set me up for a Positron Emission Tomography – (PET) scan."
The scan was to determine if cancer had gone into the lymphoid.
"Shortly after that, I went to surgeon, Dr. Anita Chow with Baylor. She gave me options like having a lumpectomy, mastectomy and reconstruction," Peggy said. "She knew it was a lot for me to think about and in the meantime was going to schedule an MRI."
But there was an unrelated outside issue. Peggy had scheduled a vacation with her daughter to take a trip to Peru and visit the ruins of Machu Picchu.
"I asked the doctors with each visit if it would be okay to postpone things a short while so I could have this moment with my daughter," Peggy said. "Each one told me to go on vacation – so we did."
Peggy said she came home Labor Day evening and the next day doctors placed a chemotherapy port in her.
"When the doctors looked at my PET scan they discovered cancer had just begun attacking my lymphoid," she said. "I received chemo that day; the doctors said they wanted to contain it."
Peggy said a recent scan showed because of the chemo - cancer had in fact been contained.
"When I have my last round of chemo I will have to wait a month before I have my surgery," Peggy said. "I've decided to have a double mastectomy. When doctors received my last MRI, they discovered a few more spots that had not been detected before. I thought ‘I'm not going through this again.'"
She said following surgery scheduled on Oct. 19th, Dr. Chow recommended six weeks of radiation once she's recovered from the procedure. The reason is due to a spot on her pectoral mussel that can't be treated until the breast tissue is removed.
"I see bills right now mounting," Peggy said. "I wonder how people who are uninsured or underinsured can afford this."
She said for those that give to organizations like Careity, who help people with this very issue, give and give liberally.
"I can almost understand why women, who don't have insurance, don't get treated," she said. "They'd have to hock everything they own and still wouldn't be able to afford it."
The other thing Peggy wants to tell women is, “Get your annual mammogram.”
"It's so important," Peggy said. "It's about early detection; it's made a difference in my life."
Peggy said you can change the things you can change; and things you can't change you just have to live with.
"I believe God has me in His hands," she said. "
“He's going to take care of me and I'll go with that. I don't need pity or sympathy. I just need your prayers that God keeps watching over me and carries me through this."
Lance Winter: 817-390-7274
Peggy’s story is one you’ll read about in a special magazine produced by the Star-Telegram and distributed at the Pink Luncheon.
All proceeds of the Pink Luncheon remain in Parker County. The 12th Annual event will be October 13, from 11:30 am,1 pm at New River Fellowship in Hudson Oaks.
All proceeds benefit the Parker County Health Foundation.
The Parker County Health Foundation is a charitable, non-profit organization that uses its funds to enhance the health and well being of the underserved citizens of Parker County. These funds are made possible by the generous contributions from local businesses and community members through the effort of the Foundation.