CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – For Molly Lutton, the day started like any other. But, then she found it – a lump in her breast.
The days, weeks, and months that followed were a whirlwind of emotions, medical appointments, surgeries, and even an appearance on The Today Show.
But, for Molly, the most important thing is that she had a team of specialists helping her every step of the way, and she is now, thankfully, cancer free and encouraging other women to take care of themselves by sharing her story.
"Not knowing is scarier than knowing," she said. "Be good to your body and get a mammogram. You'll surprise yourself what you can get through. You might wake up and think you can't get through another day, but that strength will be there and you can get through anything."
Molly was pregnant with her fourth child at the time, and unsure of how the possibility of breast cancer would affect the pregnancy.
She asked her husband, Dr. Jeffrey Lutton of Summit Orthopedic Group – Chambersburg, what she should do. They decided to bring it up at their next obstetrician appointment that month.
An ultrasound of the breast came back inconclusive. Molly asked her obstetrician Dr. Angelique Ridore, of Summit Women's Group – Chambersburg, "Where do we go from here?"
Dr. Ridore wasn't comfortable letting it go. Molly needed to see a specialist and have a biopsy.
"She was just awesome. Dr. Ridore made sure I wasn't falling through the cracks," said Molly, whose mother died of breast cancer in Dec. 2013.
The next day, her biggest fear was confirmed, at 31 weeks pregnant, Molly had breast cancer.
"I'll never forget when the doctor called. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner and I had a feeling that it was bad. But, it's amazing how in a minute your life is turned upside down," she said.
"I kept thinking 'This can't be happening. Why is it happening?' I was petrified and worried about the baby. I was afraid. How can I have four kids and be sick. I thought 'I don't want to die. Why would I get a baby and then die?'"
Molly needed a mastectomy as soon as possible, but she hadn't told anyone aside from her husband about the biopsy. So, she began making phone calls.
"Within two days, we were just surrounded by love and support," she said. "Dr. Ridore was amazing. Chambersburg was wonderful to us. Neighbors brought by meals, friends helped with laundry. It was an amazing support system."
But what would she tell her children? The oldest was only 7 years old at the time.
"We had to tell them that something was going on, but I was hesitant to use the word cancer. We said that Mom was sick and needed surgery. We tried to emphasize that after all the medications, I would be OK."
Molly was lucky during her mastectomy – doctors were able to remove the whole tumor and her lymph nodes were clear.
Then came the planning – would she complete chemotherapy or not? Doing treatments would add another 12 percent to her 10-year survival rate. If so, would she deliver first then do chemotherapy or do treatment while pregnant.
Dr. Kevin Lorentsen of Summit Cancer & Hematology Services helped her work through all the options. They decided she would deliver at 36 weeks then start chemotherapy.
In early May, Dr. Ridore helped Molly deliver a healthy baby boy, Jacob. But then, unexpectedly, Molly started to hemorrhage, which required surgery and a hysterectomy.
She recovered and on May 29, she started her chemotherapy treatment. On Sept. 8, she completed her last session.
The journey didn't end there though. In late September, Molly was reading about Joan Lunden, the former Good Morning America correspondent who is now battling breast cancer and posed without her wig on the cover of People magazine.
"Her point was that most women don't get mammograms because they're scared of what they might find. She wanted to prove that it's not a big deal and if you do find something, it's definitely scary, but you can take control of the situation," Molly said.
At the bottom of the article was an advertisement inviting breast cancer fighters and survivors to join the Today Show's #PinkPower segment on Oct. 1.
Molly applied and went to New York City with her best friend and her son, Jacob. She got to be on stage that day with about 50 other women in various stages of cancer and recovery.
"We were all there in support of [Joan]. It was a sea of bald heads wearing pink shirts. It was a moving moment to be surrounded by all these women just like you and who have a story," she said.
Throughout the whole experience, Molly said there weren't enough words to thank her husband, Jeff, her loving friends and family, Dr. Ridore, Dr. Lorentsen and the nurses and staff at the John L. & Cora I. Grove Cancer Center.
"I don't think I could have gotten through it without them."
Summit Health offers four convenient locations for mammograms in Franklin County and Shippensburg. Visit SummitHealth.org/mammo for locations and telephone numbers.
More information on Summit Cancer and Hematology Services is available online at www.SummitHealth.org/Cancer or by calling (717) 262-HOPE.
Summit Health is a non-profit network of hospitals and physician practices dedicated to building a healthier community.
As Franklin County's leading healthcare provider, Summit Health offers family care, specialists, lab and imaging services, a fitness center, two walk-in care centers, and two award-winning hospitals.