Olivia Summer Hutcherson is one of BDC’s very own. She took her first class at 16 after moving to NYC from Atlanta, GA and instantly fell in love with the music pumping from every floor, the huge variety of classes, and electric energy flowing through every studio wall. At 23, she began BDC’s Work Study Program and was able to work in the studio in exchange for additional training in Ballet, Jazz, Musical Theater, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, House, Whacking, and even Voice. She later went on to assist BDC’s Children and Teen Program’s Latin Jazz classes as well as assist Shirlene Quigley. Olivia always considered BDC a second home but now recognizes them as a second family.
Just three months ago, Olivia was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on her 26th birthday. It came as a total surprise as she had no family history, was not a smoker, is in great physical condition, and fell way under the age bracket of this being “the norm”. She experienced a few mild symptoms but what really alarmed her and came up as a red flag was discharge of blood from her left nipple. She immediately went to see her doctor and just hours later the journey of a lifetime was launched.
Shortly after her initial visit, which included an ultrasound and biopsy, she was sent to do a mammogram for a more in-depth look. The tissue in most young women is very dense, so it took three separate tries to get the images. Once a clear picture was retrieved, the radiologist told Olivia that 87% of her left side had what was called DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ).
One of the top doctors in America, Sheldon Feldman, MD who is stationed out of Columbia University Breast Center stepped in to take over. He and his team of colleagues advised an aggressive plan for Olivia. They strongly suggested doing a double-mastectomy to make sure there was no room for error. Following the surgery, Olivia was in agonizing pain. She could not lay down or sit up fully, she was unable to move her arms, was hooked to an IV for days, went through withdrawals from the medicine, and experienced nightly fevers and shivers. A couple of weeks later she returned to the hospital for a follow-up visit to remove the drains and get a pathology report. She was in for even more difficult news.
The doctors found a tumor the size of a penny on the right side while in the operating room that was invasive. They were able to remove it, but it’s discovery meant that Olivia would now face a new and multifaceted treatment strategy. Oncologist Melissa Accordino decided chemotherapy was the best option. She also recommended that Olivia freeze her eggs in order to ensure that she has the option of having children in the future. Finally, a ten year treatment plan was advised to decrease the likelihood of cancer returning.
Olivia has said that the process is mentally challenging, highly emotional, physically invasive, and more layered than anyone could ever imagine. She has remained positive and is grateful for all of the support she has received from family, friends, strangers, and Broadway Dance Center. She now has a new outlook on people and life. She understands what is truly important, and that is love. The way we treat others is a direct reflection of our own light.
Join us as we support Breast Cancer Research and Olivia this October. Visit our website to see all of our fundraising activities and how you can get involved.