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The Power of Resilience: Valuable Lessons on Navigating triple-Negative Breast Cancer and Personal Loss

Michelle Hutchings-Medina, Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Thriver, Speaker, Coach, Consultant


In this episode of Navigating Cancer TOGETHER, I had the privilege of having a candid discussion with Michelle Hutchings-Medina, a former oncology professional turned keynote speaker and certified professional coach. Resilience is a central theme highlighted throughout the episode. Michelle shared her journey of resilience after experiencing the loss of her husband to suicide and being diagnosed with stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer. Despite these challenges, Michelle exemplifies resilience by not only surviving but also thriving in the aftermath of the unimaginable.


Resilience in the Face of Adversity


Michelle's journey began in May of 2018 when she tragically lost her husband to suicide. As someone who had dedicated her career to working in the oncology field, the loss of her husband was a devastating blow that left her in a state of despair and anguish. Despite the immense grief she was experiencing, Michelle continued to persevere and find moments of light at the end of the tunnel.


Just a year and a half later, Michelle's life took another unexpected turn when she discovered a massive lump in her breast in the early hours of the morning. As someone with a deep understanding of cancer and its implications, Michelle knew immediately that this discovery could potentially be life-changing. A few weeks later, she received the official diagnosis of stage three triple-negative breast cancer, with positive lymph nodes indicating the severity of her condition.


In the face of such adversity, Michelle's resilience shone through as she navigated through the challenges of her cancer diagnosis. Despite the overwhelming emotions and physical toll of her treatment, Michelle remained steadfast in her determination to not only survive but thrive.


Ask for Help and Stay Informed


"Ask for help, stay informed" is a mantra that Michelle exemplifies throughout her cancer journey. She emphasizes the importance of being informed about one's diagnosis and treatment options, as well as the need to reach out and ask for help when needed. Michelle's background in oncology and healthcare enabled her to navigate her cancer journey with a level of understanding and knowledge that empowered her to make informed decisions about her treatment.


One of the key takeaways from Michelle's story is the importance of being proactive in seeking information and support. By staying informed about her diagnosis and treatment options, Michelle was able to advocate for herself and make decisions that were in line with her values and goals. This proactive approach also allowed her to engage with healthcare professionals in a meaningful way, asking questions and seeking clarification when needed.


Michelle's emphasis on asking for help highlights the importance of reaching out to others for support during difficult times. Cancer can be a challenging and overwhelming experience, and having a strong support system in place is crucial for coping with the emotional and physical toll of the disease. By being open to asking for help and seeking support from loved ones, friends, and healthcare professionals, individuals can better navigate the challenges of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.



"The first thing I did was I took the S off my chest. I could not be I couldn't be miss fix it anymore." - Michell Hutchings-Medina

Michelle Hutchings-Medina, triple-negative breast cancer thriver, speaker, coach, consultant


Prioritize Self-Care


Michelle's journey highlights the significance of prioritizing self-care in the face of adversity. As a cancer survivor and advocate, she emphasizes the importance of taking care of one's health and well-being, not only for oneself but also for future generations. Michelle's message of resilience goes beyond just surviving a diagnosis; it is about thriving and taking proactive steps to mitigate risks, get screened regularly, and communicate openly with loved ones about health concerns.


By being proactive about screenings and early detection, individuals can potentially avoid a late-stage cancer diagnosis and increase their chances of successful treatment. Michelle's emphasis on the importance of communication with family members about health concerns is crucial, as it not only fosters a support system but also ensures that everyone is informed and able to take necessary precautions.


Furthermore, Michelle's work as a coach and speaker focuses on empowering women, particularly Black/African American women, to prioritize their health and well-being. Her message around resilience is a call to action for women to not only take care of themselves but also to break the cycle of higher mortality rates among women of color.


The Importance of Clinical Trial Participation


Participating in clinical trials is crucial for advancing medical research, improving treatment options, and ultimately saving lives. Michelle's experience highlights the importance of being informed, proactive, and open to new possibilities when faced with a cancer diagnosis. By actively seeking out clinical trials, asking questions, and staying committed to the process, individuals can contribute to the development of personalized treatments, better understand their genetic makeup, and potentially help future generations facing similar challenges.


One of the key takeaways from Michelle's story is the significance of representation in clinical trials. Historically, minority populations, including Black/African Americans, have been underrepresented in medical research, leading to gaps in knowledge about how certain treatments may impact different demographics. By actively participating in clinical trials, individuals from diverse backgrounds can help bridge these gaps, ensure that treatments are effective for all populations, and contribute to a more equitable healthcare system.


Michelle's positive experience with a clinical trial underscores the potential benefits of stepping outside of the standard of care and exploring alternative treatment options. By being open to new possibilities, individuals can access cutting-edge therapies, contribute to the advancement of medical science, and potentially improve their outcomes. Additionally, participating in clinical trials can provide a sense of empowerment, purpose, and agency in the face of a cancer diagnosis, allowing individuals to take an active role in their healthcare journey.


As you can see, Michelle has a lot of valuable and helpful information to share. Listen to the full episode of Navigating Cancer TOGETHER with Michelle for more valuable lessons on navigating cancer, the loss of a loved one, and more!


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Resources

National Cancer Institute,https://www.cancer.gov


National Institutes of Health, https://www.nih.gov




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