Originally posted here on Facebook.
Today my son and I overcame a huge obstacle in my breast cancer journey. Today he breastfed for the first time after chemotherapy. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 28 weeks pregnant. My cancer was stage 2, grade 3, and triple negative (very aggressive). So, the doctors decided to start chemotherapy while I was pregnant. After 5 cycles of chemo, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. I was told I couldn’t breastfeed for weeks after chemo, so I was not allowed to feed him when he was born, and at first I was even told I wouldn’t be able to pump. The lactation consultant at the hospital wouldn’t even come in to see me. I kept asking questions and found a lactation consultant who was willing to do the research on my chemo meds, and find out how long it would take for each med to leave my milk. We later learned that I could breastfeed 10 days after a dose of chemotherapy. I also found out it was safe to pump. So, for 2 1/2 months I pumped and dumped to keep my milk supply, then when I started a chemotherapy with doses every other week instead of weekly, I got to breastfeed 4 days each cycle. Now, finally, after 4 months of pumping 6 times a day, I am able to breastfeed my son. We still face challenges. Radiation will likely dry up my milk on the effected side, but I feel victorious today. This was like taking the power over my body back. I’m the one in control of this one thing. This is something only I can do for my child, and if something happens to me, this is protection and health I can give him that will last the rest of his life.
Please share my story. I wasn’t able to find any information on breastfeeding with chemotherapy on-line. While every situation is different, I hope this will find some women who have been told they can’t breastfeed, and encourage them to keep looking for answers. Find an expert, and if you have the will, you will find a way.
2 pregnancies 1 birth
Age of child: 5month
We have all heard the phrases beauty comes from with in and beauty is in the eye of the beholder but such phrases come up short and feel shallow when we are talking about ourselves, our body image. I have struggled with certain aspects of my body like most of the women on this site, but I have been blessed with the opportunities to overcome/look past/accept the parts of me that aren’t perfect. Not to drag on here but in high school my friends were all much smaller and prettier than me, which I was well aware of and so were all the boys who would befriend me in hopes of me putting in a good word for them. But to be honest I loved that I had so many guy friends that I could go to for advice or to talk to for an honest opinion. I loved that my friends were so pretty and I admired them. Sometimes I would get down on myself that I had crooked teeth or that at 16 my thighs had dark thick stretch marks, but luckily I had these guy friends that I could talk to about it and you know they always would tell me the same thing …that it doesn’t matter that I was an awesome person and fun and if someone was so superficial as to not want to be with me because of what I saw as flaws then it was their loss and to not worry about. And you know I took this to heart and I found ways to love myself. Before I got pregnant I was working out 2 hours a day 4-5 days a week, I was in no way ripped but I loved my body and had so much energy. When we didn’t get pregnant right away I thought it might be due to the stress I was putting on my body by exercising so I decided to stop until I got pregnant with the intention that I would go back to light exercises once it happened. That never happened I slept through my first trimester, second trimester was amazing and I started doing occasional hikes and walks but nothing crazy and I had gained 10 maybe 15 pounds by this point didn’t look pregnant and had no stretch marks. Then the third trimester hit and I gained 40-45 pound!(that’s 40 pounds in 3 months my Dr was shocked) My stomach erupted in stretch marks (they didn’t hit until I was 8 months along) and my whole body felt swollen and sluggish. My heart was always beating very hard and I had a hard time catching my breath if I did too much. So I became obsessed with looking for pictures of women in a similar situation, I saved every possible exercise regime, I drooled over post pregnancy flat bellys, and I researched every possible remedy for stretch mark reduction. Then I had my beautiful boy via c section (planned) he was 9lbs 1oz and then in the first month I had dropped 30lbs. I felt great about the prospect of getting my body back. But that went out the window with the struggles of breastfeeding. It was very important to me to breastfeed and I put all of my time and energy into making sure we developed a good breastfeeding relationship. Which led to my now exclusively left side breastfed body. There are times that I’m embarrassed at the fact that one breast is at least 2 times the size of the other. I sometimes try to hide it when we are going out with our friends. But for the most part when I see it I’m proud. I’m proud that I am able to sustain a healthy happy boy only needing one breast to do the job. I’m proud because it shows my dedication as a mom and that I’m not superficial I can go out in public with my body the way it is. I have stretch marks, a slightly saggy stomach, lopsided breasts, and my hair is falling out faster than its growing back in but I’m a devoted mother, a caring wife, a fun loving friend, an understanding sister and a forgiving daughter. I do love myself and though my old clothes don’t look as good on me, when I see myself naked in the mirror I think I’m beautiful. We go through many stages in life and some are better than others but we will continue to change throughout our lives and our mindset is what’s going to affect whether those future changes are positive or not.
I know my body will continue to change and that there are others out there who have gone through more dramatic changes than I have but I challenge you to be proactive and to find at least one thing you love about yourself and one thing you love about your body (I have great shoulders that I think are very sensual). Look at your new body as a reflection of the past you’ve lived and embrace the changes as they continue to appear. I’m posting my pre, pregnant, and post body because I researched like crazy when I was pregnant trying to find people with a similar body type. I don’t do any special diet and as for exercise I walk about a mile at least once a week (this only started happening a couple weeks ago).
Number of pregnancies/births: 4/3
How far postpartum: Kids are 5,3,2
I’ve posted to this site 2 or 3 times now, and I am choosing to do so again because once again I have a new perspective. I felt for a long time, until recently actually that my self worth was based on my body. Not just the way I look naked, but also with clothes on. I felt that if clothes didn’t fit properly or if I had to go up a size then my life experiences were not as fun. They weren’t as fun because I was distracted with myself. I used to look at pictures during my last pregnancy and say “oh god, I was so big”. I look back now and look at how big I was smiling or how my other 2 girls kissed my belly. I felt that stretch marks and extra weight was something to be ashamed of, something to hide from the person who has seen my body in the most intimate ways. I’ve said in the past that my husband had viewed porn a lot and yes it did bother me, partly because I felt betrayed but mostly because I was jealous of the way he was attracted to those women. I have a new outlook on that, among other reasons he was viewing porn so often because I wasn’t showing him what he needed/wanted to see. My husband has told me many times that I am beautiful, pretty, sexy and whatever else you could say to give a compliment. I didn’t believe that until I was able to see the beauty myself. Somewhere along the lines I realized that stretch marks are not ugly, extra weight can be lost or not because I like my new curves. I do not look like a model by any means but I am happier than I ever have been and more comfortable with my body than I ever have been. I wanted a tattoo on my stomach to cover stretch marks but I didn’t go through with it because I wanted to look at them a little longer, I panicked when I knew they would no longer be visible. My body is forever changed in that way and that is because I chose to have children. I want to be able to look down when I’m in my 50’s and remember my days being pregnant and my daughters’ births into this world. I have stretch marks like crazy on my breasts and that really used to bother me but now I just look at them as memories. I breastfed each daughter for 1 year and those marks remind me of the long nights cuddled up with the girls next to me or that I was the only one that had that bond with them. When I was 16 I got pregnant and was forced into an abortion and I was left with one tiny stretchmark on the left breast in the middle of my cleavage and I would be so sad if I couldn’t see that mark anymore. I am grateful to my body for producing such beautiful children and supporting me all along the way of the many changes. I find myself beautiful now because I am used to the new me and I have adjusted and I wouldn’t think less of anyone else for looking the way I do. Love yourself first and foremost and everything else will fall into place.