(Above: Will Hutchins shown during his acting days with Elvis Presley.)
It’s been eight years since Will Hutchins first met Catholic Health’s Chair of Cancer Services Bhoomi Mehrotra, MD, at St. Francis Hospital.
The retired actor who appeared in films with the likes of Elvis Presley and Jack Nicholson, Hutchins was shaving in December of 2012 when he noticed a lump in his neck. Testing revealed a malignant tumor at the base of his tongue.
The following February, Hutchings began treatment with Dr. Mehrotra.
“The cancer was contained in a lymph node,” Hutchins said. “I was treated with radiation and chemotherapy.”
While the good news was that the disease had not spread, the location of the tumor presented the Glen Head resident with challenges. During radiation treatments, Hutchins had difficulty swallowing and was unable to eat or drink. A feeding tube would be his main source of nourishment for several weeks.
“At the end of Will’s radiation treatments, which lasted about nine weeks, he still had a difficult time swallowing,” Will’s wife, Babs Hutchins, said. “He also needed therapy to learn how to swallow again.”
Today, the 91-year-old is cancer-free and enjoying life on Long Island’s north shore. He remains active and his blog “A Touch of Hutch” appears regularly on the website WesternClippings.com. In a few of his columns, he wrote about his battle against cancer and the excellent care he received from Dr. Mehrotra and the St. Francis team.
“From the first time I met him, I could see in his eyes that he truly cared,” Hutchins said. “He would always take the time to listen and had this marvelous aura about him. Throughout my treatment, he told me step-by-step what would be happening so there would be no surprises.”
Babs Hutchins added, “Dr. Mehrotra is very calming, and he along with his staff are absolutely top-drawer. Everyone was so friendly, and they made us feel like family.”
Over the years, the couple has stayed in contact with Dr. Mehrotra and have been regulars at the annual St. Francis Cancer Survivors Day celebrations. Due to COVID, the event was canceled in 2020 and 2021.
“We have always enjoyed those events and have missed them the past two years,” Hutchins explained. “But God bless all the medical professionals for the work they have done over the past year during the pandemic. They should all get medals.”
For more information on Catholic Health’s oncology services, please visit chsli.org or call (844) 86-CANCER.