“Medicine and joy”; Dancer Olivia Hutcherson inspires students with optimism after breast cancer diagnosis – CBS New York
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NEW JERSEY (CBSNew York) – A bright young dancer struggles to regain her health after a devastating cancer diagnosis.
Now, she inspires young students with her optimism and talent, reported CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
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“It’s a low followed by another high, and I’m just grateful to be here, honestly,” said Olivia Hutcherson.
After years of dancing alongside the hottest celebrities, Hutcherson now works with smaller stars.
“The day I shaved my head, they kissed my head. Yes, these are drugs, ”Hutcherson said.
They are the brightest part of his day. A grim diagnosis six years ago on her 26th birthday could have broken her spirit.
“The first time I heard the fourth step I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I just remember feeling like, my God, I don’t want to die,” Hutcherson said.
Hutcherson, 32, vowed she would survive. But breast cancer sidelined her promising professional dancing career.
“I just remember lying on my bed, thinking that if I’m not my hair and I’m not my body and I’m not my title, because I couldn’t dance I remember thinking, ‘What am I?’ “said Hutcherson.
Finding out wasn’t easy for the Ridgefield, New Jersey native. It took a lot of soul-searching to smile again.
We went with Hutcherson to his 25th chemotherapy treatment at the John Theuer Cancer Center in Hackensack.
“I realized that there was a spirit inside of me and it was a time where I had to pause and nurture that side of myself and I had never done this before in my life. “said Hutcherson.
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“Olivia has stage four breast cancer, but she is alive. She follows her religious life. She follows her professional life and nothing will stop her from enjoying her life, nothing, ”said Dr. Stan Waintraub, chief of hematology at the John Theurer Cancer Center.
“What are the things that you wanted before that don’t seem so important anymore?” Layton asked Hutcherson.
“Before, I wanted to dance for celebrities and I wanted to go on tour around the world,” she said.
Today, Hutcherson is dedicated to overcoming disease and finding joy in teaching children to dance. A holiday recital presented a special moment of hope.
“Oh my God, I love working in this studio. The kids are just amazing. They are the greatest source of medicine and joy,” Hutcherson said.
She was an inspiration to her students, for her talent – of course – but more for the way she taught them to persevere in the face of life’s challenges.
Gabriela Rodriguez is one of Hutcherson’s oldest students.
“I am constantly in awe of her,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t believe that not only does she have so much physical strength, but that she has so much internal strength.”
One of Hutcherson’s youngest students is 9-year-old Camila Izaguirre, who opened the show and is also battling cancer.
“I also have short hair and we’re both the same,” Camila said. “We were both beautiful as flowers.”
In a life that Hutcherson has learned is so fragile, these are his biggest fans. The stage might be a little smaller now, but Hutcherson knows that’s exactly where it’s supposed to be.
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Jessica Layton of CBS2 contributed to this report.
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