BAXLEY, Ga. (WSAV) – Breast cancer knows no boundaries, and for one Baxley family, the statement could not be more true.
Wanda Hutcheson and her two daughters Sandee and Wendy are all breast cancer survivors who battled through the most difficult times in their lives together.
Sandee Oxendine, Appling County Primary School teacher, felt the first sign of breast cancer in October 2015.
“The very first place that I touched I felt a knot,” Oxendine says, “I did wait two or three weeks for it to go away, but I did monitor it.”
Oxendine pushed it to the back of her mind at the time, but an ultrasound and biopsy told the truth she seemed to already know.
“December the third is when I got the actual call that I did have breast cancer,” Oxendine says.
The stage 2 cancer had moved into her lymph nodes, but she kept calm during her battle.
For her, the tears really only came when she thought about her three sons.
“Everybody was like, ‘you know if I were you, I’d be on the floor balled up,’” Oxendine says.
And at times, her journey to becoming cancer-free was exceptionally hard. Oxendine had to be hospitalized after chemo treatments because they made her so sick.
“They wouldn’t give me my last chemo because they said it was doing more harm than good,” she explains.
She also learned from genetic testing that she had the BRCA 2 gene, a chromosome mutation that increases the risk of other cancers. This sparked Oxendine’s decision to have a double mastectomy.
But as difficult as her journey had been, Oxendine also inspired those around her.
Wendy Hutcheson, Oxendine’s sister and best friend, was diagnosed with breast cancer just four months later. She says that it was caught early thanks to Oxendine’s insistence that she have a mammogram.
“It was pretty traumatic,” Hutcheson says, “Not to say that we can’t take that, but it’s hard to have two cancer diagnosis within a short period of time.”
Following in Oxendine’s footsteps, Hutcheson made the decision to have a double mastectomy. According to her doctor, if Hutcheson had waited even another year, she would have been at stage 3 or 4.
“That’s how quickly it moved,” says Hutcheson.
Learning her two daughters had breast cancer was devastating to a mother who battled the disease 7 years prior.
“It’s terrible seeing your children have anything,” says Wanda Foskey, mother of Sandee and Wendy. “It hurts you just as much as when they’re older as it does when they’re young,” Foskey says.
But despite the pain, this family grew stronger.
Sandee, Wendy and Wanda hope no one else in the family will follow in their footsteps, but Wendy is planning genetic testing for her 17-year-old daughter.
The women encourage others to keep fighting this terrible disease by getting mammograms and doing breast exams.
For more information on self-exams, visit the Buddy Check page here.