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Radiologist fights breast cancer diagnosis alongside her patients

One survivor's relationship with breast cancer started as her job. Now, it's part of her life story.

Lindsay Luttrell is a wife, mom and radiologist who does breast imaging in Oak Ridge. Her breast cancer diagnosis allowed her to relate to her patients on a new level.

October has always been a special month for Luttrell. Since she works with breast imaging, she typically gave talks to hospitals to bring awareness. But, in 2019, after speaking at an awareness event, she started noticing unusual symptoms in herself.

"I don't have any family history of breast cancer, I never thought I would get breast cancer," Luttrell admitted. "But I did my talk and just a few weeks after that I noticed really faint nipple discharge."

Luttrell said the discharge showed up as spots on her bra, shirt and sheets. She was just 34, but knew it could be a sign of the disease.

Her mammogram revealed she was right.

“There was a very small mass in the duct that was causing the breast discharge," Luttrell explained.

It was cancer. She chose to have a bilateral mastectomy not even a month later.

"I was absolutely terrified and in that moment you're diagnosed, you think you're gonna die," Luttrell admitted. "So in that moment I thought 'I'm gonna die.'"

But, she didn't give up and even had a hair party surrounded by her friends and family to give her locks a proper sendoff before starting chemo.

RELATED: Buddy Check 10: Breast cancer survivor embraces diagnosis through 'head-shaving party' and positive attitude

Luttrell sent her hair off to an organization called Chemo Diva. She got her hair back in the form of a partial wig to wear.

"When my hair fell out, it was almost liberating, where I almost said 'this is who I am right now, I am a bald woman and that's okay,'" Luttrell smiled.

She went back to work, helping women who have her same diagnosis, sharing a special bond.    

"Oftentimes the patients wouldn't know about my journey and I would go into the room and the first thing I would say is 'I hear we have the same hairdresser!' because we would both be bald, and they would just light up because that was something that we shared," Luttrell beamed.

Luttrell was even on the same treatment paths as some of her patients. She knows now she will always share a special bond with those who have a breast cancer diagnosis. She is able to empathize unlike ever before.

RELATED: Buddy Check 10: Newport nurse helps others while healing from breast cancer

Her friends created a Komen race team called "Love for Lindsay" to celebrate her journey. Even though it's a virtual event, they're having their own race and cherishing every step on Saturday.

"Now is the time to do all the things and to cherish each moment," Luttrell nodded.

The virtual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is Saturday, October 31. Komen invites registered survivors to join in for the survivor "car parade of pink" at World's Fair Park.

For more information and to register, visit KomenEastTN.org.

RELATED: Race for the Cure goes virtual for 2020