SANTA ANA ( — Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced that she has breast cancer and will continue to work, even as she undergoes chemotherapy treatment.

At a news conference Monday, Hutchens said she was diagnosed earlier this month and doctors said her cancer was curable.

“I really believe it was caught early,” Hutchens said. “Here’s an important message for women — and for men, men also get breast cancer — I had a mammogram six months ago and they found nothing, everything was fine. I found this through self-examination. I went to the doctor immediately and I had it diagnosed.”

Hutchens said she has no family history of cancer and does not smoke.

She has already undergone her first round of chemotherapy. The treatment is expected to last six to eight months.

Given that chemotherapy causes hair loss, the sheriff went on to joke that she’ll probably look good in a wig.

Hutchens said she would step back on speaking engagements but would still be able to lead.

“I’m going to be in charge, thanks to iPads, iPhones… I haven’t not been in charge since this, and I don’t plan on it. I will tell you this, I will tell the public this: If, at any time, I felt that I could not carry out my duties I would make other arrangements,” Hutchens said.

Several of her colleagues voiced their support at the news conference.

“She has proven to be a courageous leader for us, a strong leader in our organization, and we’re here to offer 100 percent support for her,” O.C. Assistant Sheriff Lee Trujillo said.

“The first thing that came to my mind is here’s just another opportunity for her to mentor women, not just in this county but all over. She’s a fighter and she’s going to do very well,” Commander Linda Solorza of the O.C. Sheriff’s Department said.

Hutchens was elected Orange County’s first female sheriff in 2008. She leads 3,600 sworn and professional staff members. Her department has jurisdiction over 12 contract cities and unincorporated areas, where nearly three-quarters of a million residents live.

“The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated, I’ll tell you that,” said Hutchens, who seemed optimistic Monday, even going on to say that she plans on running for a second term as sheriff in 2014.


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