Mastitis and a Midwife Saved My Life: My Breast Cancer Diagnosis

My husband and I glamorously rang in 2021 by watching TV in bed as our children slept. Like many people, we were hoping to put the challenges of 2020 behind us, but things were off to a rocky start. I was running a 101 fever and felt like I had the flu. It wasn’t the flu, however, it was the dreaded mastitis. Despite having breastfed my older daughters until they were each two years old, ten months into breastfeeding our baby, this was my first run in with mastitis and things were not pretty. Thankfully, however, I managed to get over it pretty quickly by using every home remedy possible. 

Parenting doesn’t stop even in the midst of intense life events. Our girls have brought us tremendous joy this year.

I truly believe that God used mastitis to save my life. I’ve never been the most body aware person nor am I quick to seek medical attention. However, after my symptoms went away and the painful lumps cleared, I was very aware of how my breasts felt. So when a few weeks later I noticed a lump in my breast wasn’t sensitive to the touch (as clogged ducts usually are) and wasn’t going away, I began to wonder if I should get it checked out. I decided to make an appointment with my midwife at the Birth Center, “just to be safe.”

My midwife, Amanda, and I had a good laugh when my ten-month-old baby leaned down to nurse as she was doing the breast exam. I remember so clearly Amanda saying, “You know, this doesn’t seem like anything, but we always trust a mother’s gut and I want you to get this checked out via ultrasound.” Later in the conversation, I asked her again if she was sure I needed to get it checked out. “Yes,” she replied definitively. I believe God used my midwife to save my life. 

From there, things began to snowball. I was mostly convinced it was just “a cyst” or “lumpy breasts” or something else harmless, but when I went in for the ultrasound things changed quickly. The tech kept going over the same spot again and again, and my heart plummeted when she went to get the radiologist. The Doctor told me that I would need to get a mammogram and would also need to schedule a biopsy. Things weren’t looking good. I so vividly remember sitting in the waiting room texting my husband, my mom, my sister, and my best friend with updates. I cried pretty hard with a deeply empathetic nurse in the consult room. 

The biopsy was scheduled for the next week. My parents came in town to be with us for the biopsy and for our daughter’s sixth birthday that weekend. The day of the biopsy started with my then three year old throwing up in our bed followed by our baby choking and us calling 911! They both ended up being completely fine but my nerves were obviously shot. 

After the ultrasound biopsy, during which the tech held my hand the whole time and a nurse dabbed my forehead with cool clothes, the radiologist confirmed that the lump looked pretty suspicious but we’d have to wait for the report to come back in a few days. The nurse present was truly an angel, encouraging us and praying with us after the Doctor left the room.

The days waiting for the biopsy results were some of the worst days of my life, not only because I got an insane stomach bug on my daughter’s birthday weekend. The anxiety that coursed through my body was like nothing I’d experienced. I remember being at the library with my little girls thinking that I might collapse at any second.

Finally, Tuesday afternoon, Amanda, the midwife, called with the news. My husband and I sat on our bed as she told us that biopsied lumps were cancerous. Honestly, in that moment, I felt a lot of peace. I thought I would’ve been on the floor weeping but I just felt extremely calm. Thankfully, I was able to get in to see a breast specialist that afternoon. We got the full report from her: Stage 1B hormone positive breast cancer requiring five months of chemo followed by surgery and radiation. I cried a lot that day. The following weeks were a blur of insurance calls, more scans and tests, meeting my oncologist, egg retrieval surgery, port placement surgery, weaning my baby in preparation for chemo, telling friends and family, including our little daughters, and making plans. In some ways, mentally, those early days were the hardest.

Last days of breastfeeding before I had to wean our baby because of chemo.
SO MANY Doctor appointments
Getting to visit my parents and sister in Dallas right after my diagnosis was such a blessing.
So many sweet care packages and generous gestures meant the world to me as I processed my diagnosis.

I’m happy to say that I am now cancer free! I’ll be finished with my final cancer treatment, radiation, in mid-November. Cancer has been the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, but God, my family, and my friends have kept me afloat the whole way.

One night before we’d received the final biopsy report, our six-year-old, knowing nothing then of what was going on, prayed this prayer completely out of the blue: “God, thank you for my little family. Thank you for creating the world and that we don’t have to live in darkness. Thank you for what is coming, we don’t know what is ahead, but Jesus, You see it all!” That prayer has brought me comfort over and over again. God spoke a message of peace and presence to us through our little girl and He has continually given us His Peace and Presence through this journey. I praise Him for saving my life.

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