Hutto doesn’t let MS get in way of life, work

Published 1:55 am Thursday, September 15, 2016

It wasn’t until her co-workers at Dean’s Cake House pointed it out that Sonya Hutto realized she was dragging her leg.

Sonya Hutto

Sonya Hutto

“I guess I adapted to it,” she said. “I didn’t even realize I was doing it.”

Then, she took a fall or two. The combination sent the then-29-year-old to the doctor in search of a cause.

She was told she might have a tumor, or it could be multiple sclerosis. So it was almost good news when she was diagnosed on May 15, 2013, with MS.

“I didn’t know what else to do, so I just went to work,” Hutto said.

And she’s been keeping on ever since.

MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Among the triggers, Hutto said, is heat. All day, every day, she bakes cakes. But she is not giving in.

“I want to encourage people,” she said. “It doesn’t mean your life is over.”

Your life may be different, she said, but you can still do almost everything.

Aside from dragging her leg a bit, the only other symptom is that her she sometimes has an involuntary jerk in her leg.

“I’ll be standing there flipping cakes, and my leg will go to jumping,” she said. “It has a mind of its own.”

But she’s learned to pause and let it pass.

Part of her inspiration for keeping her life as normal as possible is her 10-year-old son, Ethan. Husband Shane’s support and understanding also inspire her to keep going, she said.

“Ethan plays football,” she said. “On Saturdays, there’s games. I don’t let MS limit me. On game day, I’m not just there, I’m walking to the top of the bleachers.”

“I don’t want him to look at me and think, ‘My mom’s just over there,’ ” she said. “I want to be that mom who will go and do. I want to be there.”

“Going and doing” means driving the bushhog for her husband, or enjoying time in the boat with her family.

“I’m six feet tall,” she said. “So that boat’s way down there. I might have to crawl, practically, but I’m still getting on that boat.”

There is no cure for MS. Hutto, like many others, takes injections every other day.

“So far, it’s been working,” she said, adding there have been no changes in her scans since her original diagnosis.

“If I get really hot, I have to pause for a few minutes,” she said. “But Mrs. Dean is very understanding.”

Hutto said she’s very appreciative of both her boss, Dean Jacobs, and Pauline Phillips.

“Pauline Phillips is an incredible person,” Hutto said. “She checks on me. Sometimes a doctor’s visit makes you emotional. She always calls and checks on me.

“And Dean Jacobs is incredible,” she said. “She is very understanding about the doctors’ appointments I have to go to.”

While some would be disheartened to have even the mild symptoms of MS from which Hutto suffers, she wants to live as an example that illness doesn’t mean your life is over.

“I want to encourage people,” she said.

Through social media, she is in touch with people across the country dealing with the same disease.

“I talk with them by phone and text messages,” she said. “I tell them they will be OK. Just take it one step at a time. Life ain’t over.”

A lot of people give up, because depression goes hand in hand with the disease, she said.

“I’m blessed, I haven’t gone through that,” she said. “MS affects everybody differently. Luckily, I’m doing extremely great.

“I know everybody’s not religious,” she said. “But I think this was given to me, so maybe I can help somebody else.”


Hutto is very open about her disease, and often shares her story. Recently, while waiting on a customer at Dean’s, she had that opportunity.

As she answered his questions about the number of cakes baked daily and seasonally, she mentioned that the heat of the kitchen can affect her condition, MS.

The customer immediately replied that his wife has had the same disease for 39 years.

“She was in the car, so I asked if I could go out and meet her. I told her I wanted to hug her neck. I just burst into tears, and said, ‘I’m praying for you.’ She said, ‘Me, too.’

“It touched me. She’s 39 years and she’s still mobile. She uses a wheelchair when she’s going somewhere they’ll be walking a lot. Other than that, she’s mobile.”

The encounter inspired her, she said.

“It just fills my heart. I want to get that message out there. Life ain’t over. Might have to do it a different way. But it’s not over.”