At the age of 25, Olivia Hutcherson had it all: New York City at her fingertips, a Top 30 spot on the hit television show So You Think You Can Dance, and a new backup dancer gig with Madonna. Then, on her 26th birthday in 2015, her world turned upside down.
It was after a dance rehearsal that she noticed bleeding coming from her breast. Three mammograms later, it was confirmed that 87 percent of Olivia’s breasts were overtaken by breast cancer. How could this be real? Olivia lived an active lifestyle, didn’t smoke, and had no family history of breast cancer. But it was happening, and the reality of a double mastectomy forced Olivia to move to a new beat. Part of Olivia’s new journey was to freeze her eggs before undergoing chemotherapy. She turned to Dr. Tomer Singer, Medical Director and board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at SGF New York, to ultimately preserve her hope of one day having a biological child.
“One in three female patients who are diagnosed with cancer will go to a fertility center to freeze their eggs before embarking on the process and chemotherapy,” explains Dr. Singer in a Zoom interview he recently hosted with Olivia.
During the honest and emotional interview, Dr. Singer and Olivia discuss life, self-love, and growth following her breast cancer diagnosis.
Q&A with Dr. Singer about Breast Cancer and Egg Freezing
Dr. Singer: Can you describe the first time you learned that you were diagnosed with breast cancer?
Hutcherson: I was a stage zero from what the doctors could tell and then even after doing a mammogram three times, they didn’t find everything. It wasn’t until I had a double mastectomy that doctors were able to find a tumor in both of my breasts. From there, that was when they discovered that I would have to do chemotherapy, which led me to you [Dr. Singer]. And they wanted to ensure that if I did want to have children that I would need to freeze my eggs before I did chemo.
Dr. Singer: When we met, now you’re hearing from me that the process is going to take another 10 to 12 days. How did you feel?
Hutcherson: When I found out that there was going to be another round in the ring, I felt absolutely defeated. I felt like how is it not enough that I already, in my mind, had to have pieces of my body mutilated. And, now I have to have my hair fall out. And then at 26, I have to have my eggs frozen? I wasn’t even thinking about children! I just wanted to go dance for Madonna.
Dr. Singer: What is the most difficult part during those two weeks of injecting yourself with hormones?
Hutcherson: Who wants to inject themselves? This lady at my church said something and it really stuck with me and ministered to my heart. She said, “Olivia, every single time that you inject yourself, you have to speak a blessing over your life, not a cursing.” Every single time I would inject myself, I would say a prayer. It sounds silly but I was like, ‘this is for your child. This is for your baby. God bless the doctors and thank them for being there early in the morning.’ I was constantly speaking a blessing over my life and it switched the narrative.
Dr. Singer: What was the hardest part about your journey through breast cancer?
Hutcherson: The more I went on, the more you recognize that you’re not in control anyway, and the more you let go of that control of your body, the more you gain control of your spirit and mind. It’s like a renewal and a reset. Where you’re losing control in one area, you’re gaining control in another.
Dr. Singer: What would you want to tell young women who are coping with breast cancer?
Hutcherson: I would want to tell them to get a really, really solid support system around them immediately. I would want to tell that that in their fight, part of that fight is surrendering trying to be in control all the time. Because I think that’s half the battle.
Sometimes the strongest thing we can do is surrender. And that doesn’t mean giving up, by the way. A lot of people misconstrue that word. Surrendering doesn’t mean giving up. Surrendering means recognizing you can’t do everything by yourself. And it’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to need each other. It’s ok to need support. And that is the purest form of love: to let others love you.
Dr. Singer: When you went on to start breast cancer treatment after freezing your eggs, did you feel encouraged knowing you preserved your chances of becoming a mom someday?
Hutcherson: 100%. It is such an amazing feeling to know that I did that. Just 4.5 years after being diagnosed the first time I got diagnosed the second time in October 2019. It’s encouraging to know that I have that security after everything that my body has been through with all the treatments, surgeries, and medications. I’m a young woman, I’m only 30. Of course, I want children and a family and now I still have that as an option.
Preserving Fertility Before Starting Cancer Treatments
SGF has a specially trained team that works specifically with people with cancer who seek fertility preservation before beginning cancer treatment. The oncofertility team at SGF helps to guide patients through each step of the treatment process, from finding ways to afford treatment to the actual medical procedure.
If you would like to learn more about SGF’s oncofertility treatment options or to schedule an appointment, please call the New Patient Center at 1-888-761-1967 or click below.