ABC News(NEW YORK) — Olivia Hutcherson’s life as a professional dancer in New York City took an unprecedented turn on the night of her 26th birthday in 2015.
Hutcherson, now 27, saw blood on the inside of her blouse at the end of the night.
“The following day, I went into the doctor’s office and they told me that it was nothing to worry about but I felt like something was wrong,” Hutcherson told ABC News’ Amy Robach in an interview that aired Friday on Good Morning America. “I went back to the doctor just three days later.”
Hutcherson said she requested a mammogram but was initially discouraged against one by her medical team because she was 26, had never smoked and had no family history of breast cancer.
“I wasn’t leaving until I got it,” Hutcherson said.
Three mammograms later, Hutcherson was diagnosed with DCIS, the earliest stage of breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy just three weeks later. Doctors found a tumor in Hutcherson’s right breast during the double mastectomy that required chemotherapy.
Hutcherson, who is currently cancer-free, said she had “no idea” she could get breast cancer at the age of 26. Statistics show she is not alone in facing the disease at an early age.
An estimated 12,000 women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year, according to The American Cancer Society.
Robach was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 after undergoing her first-ever mammogram live on Good Morning America in 2013. Jennifer Finkelstein, of New York City, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at age 32.
“It was five weeks before my wedding,” Finkelstein recalled of her diagnosis. “I underwent a single mastectomy and chemotherapy weeks later instead of a honeymoon.”
Finkelstein, now cancer-free, turned what she called the “most isolating” experience of her life into a way to help others. She launched the 5 Under 40 organization that provides medical, emotional and beauty services to women under 40 who are fighting breast cancer.
Hutcherson is one of the women that Finkelstein’s organization has helped.
“They helped me with the wig, they helped me with the head shaving, and there’s always somebody on the other end of the line to get you through the moment,” Hutcherson said.
In addition to the double mastectomy, Hutcherson also froze her eggs after her cancer diagnosis. She recalled to Robach what it was like to date while undergoing treatment.
“I’m, like, out on a date with my wig — I’ll never forget — and this guy was like, ‘Babe, you have the most beautiful hair,’” she said. “And I’m like, huh, that’s awkward.”
Now more than one year after her diagnosis, Hutcherson has ditched her wig and returned to the dance studio with a new motto: “Liv Strong.”
“A warrior princess is who I see,” Hutcherson said of looking at herself today. “I see this strong soul, and that’s really powerful.”
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