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DeRhonda Hutcherson doesn’t dwell on the difficult aspects of her breast cancer treatment. Still, everyone has limits.
“It’s hard going through radiation and chemotherapy and the unknown and losing your hair,” said DeRhonda. “Mine came out on the first treatment— all of it. And I had real long hair. I hadn’t cut it in more than 30 years. It was gray, but it was mine.”
What she prefers to focus on are things like the 8-year-olds in her granddaughter’s Sunday school class who pray for her each week. Or the series of healthcare guardian angels that made her diagnosis and treatment possible.
“The Lord orchestrated this,” DeRhonda said. “I’m so grateful for everyone.”
When she first noticed a lump, DeRhonda put off taking action. She was uninsured after her husband, Terry, lost his job after losing his sight due to illness.
She eventually confided in a co-worker who connected her with Rafael Miranda, a navigator with Methodist Healthcare’s Congregational Health Network (CHN).
Rafael sensed the urgency and arranged for a screening through a Methodist program made possible by grant funds from Susan G. Komen Memphis-MidSouth. He called the day before Thanksgiving and told her she might not hear back immediately because of the holiday.
“West Cancer Center called me 20 minutes later and said they had a cancellation, would I mind running over there,” DeRhonda said. “This has absolutely been miracle after miracle—the hand of God. I can’t help but say that."
She had a mammogram and a biopsy and was scheduled for surgery on Dec. 23, less than a month after she first talked to Rafael.
Rafael recalls, “When she called me I said, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ll take care of it.’ We have a commitment as a hospital—if we find something, we’re going to see if we can treat it.”
“Rafael came to my room before my surgery to meet me,” DeRhonda said, tearing up. “I just thought that was so special.”
Jeremy Sanders, CHN Cancer Navigation Program Specialist, worked with Rafael to ensure DeRhonda accessed the care she needed, when she needed it.
“At Methodist, we firmly believe that a patient’s lack of resources should not determine the level of healthcare they receive. Everyone deserves a fighting chance,” said Jeremy. “Our partnership with Susan G. Komen Memphis-MidSouth has allowed us to expand cancer navigation, provide free mammograms and offer ongoing support to patients like DeRhonda. It is an amazing feeling knowing that, together, we are improving the continuum of care by directing resources to assist women in taking back their lives.”
DeRhonda is hopeful about her prognosis and grateful for all the help she’s received.
“It’s good because everyone acted so quickly to help me—and it was because of Rafael. He got the ball rolling. Otherwise I’d be stressing over, ‘What am I going to do and how am I going to do this?’ I appreciate everyone who is part of this program. They’ll never realize all the lives they are saving.”