|We are very excited to introduce Tia - a cloth-diapering, babywearing, breast cancer survivor - here to share her journey with us.|
On May 10, 2015, my family was thrown into crisis when I became severely preeclamptic and needed to deliver our third daughter via emergency c-section at 28 weeks. River Miles Quinn was a phenomenon from her first lusty cry. I spent every available minute in the NICU, pumping and learning to care for our baby while my husband worked during the busy season of his job. We attempted to make life for our older girls (ages 8 &15) as normal as possible. Mid-June, my husband was inexplicably let go from his job. With the baby still in the NICU, and trying to get my blood pressure under control, I spent the summer trying to make ends meet with donations and help from friends and family. Eventually, River came home, and on that first day I wrapped her up and wore her in our garden, where the big kids helped weed.
It wasn't until River was nearly four months old that she learned to nurse, due to a minor oral surgery. Nursing my kids was always a challenge in the beginning, but we're a stubborn bunch, and we kept at it. In October, I was offered a job and my husband stayed home with the baby. The big girls were thriving at school...and we were crawling out of debt, slowly but surely.
On River's first birthday, I found a lump in my breast. I was an experienced mom. This was a plugged duct, surely. After a week of my usual remedies and no relief, I called my doctor.
Two weeks later I was in our garden, baby in her wrap, telling the big girls that mama has breast cancer.
I have Stage 2, Triple Negative, invasive ducal carcinoma. It is very aggressive and has a high rate of recurrence without chemotherapy and a radical mastectomy. I would need to do multiple contrast mammograms, several biopsies, a PET scan and a contrast MRI, start chemotherapy and think about a mastectomy and reconstruction.
And wean the baby, that day.
I just turned 40, and am now in the middle of chemotherapy. My hair is gone, I had several setbacks with an anaphylaxis reaction to a chemo drug, bad ports and infections. The worst part, however, is the heartbreak that comes from working so hard to build a breastfeeding relationship with your baby, pumping for months before she could even nurse...finding success in perseverance then being told you have to stop, was devastating! I hoped to nurse River as long as she wanted. It was her comfort, and it was one of the few things I thought no one could take away from me. I was wrong.
Had we not been told not to get pregnant again, the four chemo drugs I have received will most likely render me sterile.
We are still in crisis, but my girls are still thriving. River is nearly caught up to her actual age of 16 months and the big girls continue to amaze me. Through it all, my husband and I, and occasionally the big girls, keep River close. We wear her whenever practical, whenever I'm able. She sees a carrier or a wrap and gets excited to go "up.” This is something we can do as a family, something we're all committed to doing -- staying close. Sometimes after chemo, when grandma goes home and the girls need to do homework, I wrap River up, and we dance until she fell asleep. Exhausted, I kept her wrapped up until papa got home.
We will continue to wear our last baby until she wants to stop.
I will survive this. I have three little girls who need me. Failure is not an option.
I will survive this because I didn't ignore it and because I was aggressive in getting quick treatment. Young women do get breast cancer. Do your self-breast exams. Hug your babies a little tighter.
Tia and River in their Baby K'tan PINK RIBBON Carrier
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