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Sheriff Plans to 'Power Through' Cancer Treatment

Orange County's top cop says she doesn't expect her breast cancer diagnosis to interfere with her duties.

Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens announced today she has been diagnosed with breast cancer, but plans to remain on the job while undergoing treatment over the next six to eight months.

At a news conference this afternoon, Hutchens said she is ``very optimistic'' about her prognosis.

``I had chemo Friday and I was at work Monday,'' she said. ``They're much better at treatment now.''

The sheriff said she will undergo four cycles of chemotherapy three weeks apart before having surgery to remove the tumor, which was a little more than two centimeters when discovered.

``They think they caught it early because there was nothing on the mammogram,'' Hutchens said.

The sheriff said she would sideline herself if she felt she wasn't up to her duties.

``If at any time I felt I could not carry out my duties I would arrange for something else,'' she said. ``The doctors say some people get fatigued, and some people power through it. I'm powering through it.''

Hutchens believes she can remain in touch even during treatment.

``I'm going to be in charge, thanks to iPhones and iPads,'' she said.

Sheriff's officials were notified about the cancer diagnosis through a department memo on Nov. 14.

The sheriff struck a philosophical tone as she at times got emotional discussing her health.

``You know how we say, `Don't sweat the small stuff,' but we do anyway? But when you get this, it's all small stuff,'' Hutchens said.

``I try to look at the positives,'' she said. ``I'm not 30, I'm not a single mom.''

Hutchens said she has no history of cancer in her family and has never smoked, so the diagnosis was a shock.

It stunned sheriff's officials, too.

`It was a shock, a sad moment for us,'' said sheriff's Cmdr. Steve Kea. The sheriff said she will have to cut back on some speaking engagements, mostly on the weekends. Officials under her, such as Assistant Sheriff Lee Trujillo and Kea, said they will happily fill in.

``We don't think there will be any lag,'' Kea said.

Trujillo noted the sheriff has not missed a day of work since her diagnosis.

Hutchens said she made announcement because she believes ``the public
has a right to know.''

Hutchens took over for disgraced former Sheriff Mike Carona, who was convicted of witness tampering on Jan. 16, 2009. Carona surrendered to authorities in January 2011 to begin serving 5 1/2 years in a federal prison in Colorado.

Hutchens was elected sheriff in June 2010 when she won more than 50 percent of the vote against two candidates, avoiding a runoff election in November of that year.

Hutchens took over the office at a time when the sheriff was called on to handle multimillion-dollar budget shortfalls.

The department plugged some of the holes with a multimillion-dollar deal with federal authorities to rent the county's empty beds in its jail in the city of Orange. A state law seeking to address prison overcrowding, however, has presented new budget problems for the sheriff's department.

Trujillo said he expects that the coming challenges in the department will energize his boss, as the hurdles she overcame taking over for Carona did.    ``She came into this organization on the heels of former Sheriff Carona. It was a challenge,'' Trujillo said. ``We were in need of changes throughout the organization. Our brand was tarnished. But she took us in and in a short amount of time has elevated this department.''

- City News Service

Andromeda November 27, 2012 at 02:41 AM
It's strange that the public has a "right to know" about the Sheriff's cancer but we don't have a right to know about the fine details involving the shooting death of decorated Marine sergeant Manny Loggins by an OCSD deputy in front of his 2 young daughters. OCSD won't even release the dash cam video for viewing by the public. So much is kept secret from the public on investigations even after cases have been adjudicated in the courts. Yet we have a right to know if the Sheriff has cancer? Bizarre.
Shirley November 27, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Andromeda, OK you're taking this forum to air your problems with the Sheriff's Dept & Lake Forest. Enjoy it...your 15 minutes will soon be up.
Andromeda November 27, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Shirley, just curious. Are you the arbiter who has been appointed to decide how many minutes posters have left? If so, please advise. I forget to bow down.
Catherine November 27, 2012 at 05:30 AM
Sheriff Hutchens is an amazing woman; strong, honest, dedicated, ethical & professional. All who know her, or of her, wish her well.
MFriedrich November 27, 2012 at 05:40 AM
That is one tough lady. We could use more like her.
Shirley November 27, 2012 at 05:57 AM
Take it all in...our Sheriff has cancer & you want to do a song & dance about things that you're NOT going to get an answer to. You should be ashamed of yourself. So now bow down or whatever you choose...stop your damn whining...how disgusting can you get?
Andromeda November 27, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Listen up good, Shirley. Personally I don't know the Sheriff from Eve. I have no emotional attachment to her whatsoever. All I know is that she leads the County's largest law enforcement agency and was elected to serve the public. Period. And when I notice questionable statements about what the public has a right to know - I will point it out. With that said, we're all sorry she has this illness and we all hope that she experiences a fast and a full recovery. But I am concerned whether she can fulfill her duties and give us her best performance while undergoing treatment. I have known women who've undergone cancer treatments and I could not imagine them leading a large government agency while in that process since their energy was completely zapped out. Normally, that is what leave of absences are for. But then what do I know?
Marianne Viscuso November 29, 2012 at 01:43 AM
It's a difficult thing, I lost my daughter , she was 18 , to a rare brain cancer. I just wish her all the best and a long life and positive thinking! <3 Its sad to see people fighting we all our own views please love one another!

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