Nothing is easy about breastfeeding. Yet we’ve all heard the notion it is at a minimum supposed to ward off breast cancer.

RELATED READING :: We Weren’t Ready to Wean…But Cancer Told Us Otherwise

In five years of pregnancy and breast feeding I’ve endured torn nipples and tongue-ties and Hakas and pumps and elimination diets. I’ve taken antibiotics and squeezed bloody clotted milk from infected and clogged milk ducts, and shivered in the middle of the night from mastitis. We learned to latch and learned to wean and did it over again. I looked down and saw my sweet babies’ faces looking back up at me lovingly and my body single-handedly created and sustained life that radiated joy and peace and knew no troubles that my milk couldn’t solve.

The authors two bio-babies are wrapped in a medical swaddle awaiting to have their laser frenectomies to remove their tongue ties. Both of my bio-babies awaiting to have their tongue ties removed with cold laser

When I weaned for the second and last time, there was a lump. I called teledoc who said to see someone in person, who told me to wait it out for a while. Any further studies or imaging would only serve to perpetuate my painful lump by stimulating continued milk production. Time would heal this wound.

But it didn’t.

By Thanksgiving, the lump in my sad boobie still hurt anytime my big babies would rest or wrestle against it and my rockstar husband had had enough of my suffering in silence. Then came weeks of delays and scheduling and lists and miscommunications and phone tag until I finally found myself in the most chic examination gown I had yet to don. The doctor didn’t mince words, but “better than 50/50 odds” still rattles from ear to ear.

The author Angela De Hoyos Hart nurses her son after his 1 year old birthday party, both of them decorated in dragon facepaint.
I nursed my kids everywhere and anywhere until they were almost 2.

For days (that felt like months) I was driven mad by the waiting for the next step. I waited for the biopsy, waited for the results, then surely would come waiting for the next appointment.

I have hard kids.

After a protracted bedtime fight my big boy was finally resting, head on my happy boobie. All I could think about is how if I die from this cancer, no one will love him the way I do. No one will patiently and peacefully face down his bites and screams and kicks with my loving yet steely resolve. Maybe some day a partner will hold his hand and tell him how much they wish to have met his amazing mother, robbed from him in his childhood. 

The author Angela De Hoyos Hart nurses her baby on an airplane, wearing a KN-95 mask during the end of COVID-19 protocols

One year of waiting later, I got the call. No malignancy found. The relief was indescribable. Alongside the (multiple) examples of breast cancer survivors in my life, I’ve also seen a young boy lose his mom to breast cancer.

I hope that we as Mothers can learn to put ourselves first. Don’t fall for American healthcare’s “Wait and See” advice, take a proactive “Check and See” approach instead. We are the best and sometimes only advocates for our and our families’ health and while it can feel impossible to drive in contrary to typical medical advice, never be afraid to push for resolution. Early detection could save your life.


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