Women Donate Thousands of Ounces of Breast Milk for Those Fighting Breast Cancer
This year alone, it is estimated that well over 260,000 American women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer and around 40,000 are expected to die from it. A breast cancer diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming for any woman, especially for mothers of newborns. Having to undergo radiation therapy or chemotherapy means having to stop nursing, as radioactive substances or medications can pass through the breast milk. All mothers wish to protect and take good care of their children. However, for mothers who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are unable to nurse, worries sink in as to how their children will be able to receive the proper nutrients that they need for healthy growth and development.
Losing the ability to breastfeed as a side effect of cancer
Ashli Brehm, a mother of three from Omaha, Nebraska, underwent a double mastectomy in 2016. Today, she is a breast cancer survivor and she is known as the woman who has made an immense difference in Jackie Holscher’s life. Holscher received a diagnosis of stage 2 breast cancer in May, just a couple of weeks after having given birth to her daughter, Genevieve. She breastfed her daughter until it was no longer an option to do so. “Breastfeeding was something that I had done with my other two kids for two years each. I felt devastated that that was being taken away from me. I had to basically mourn a loss of not being able to nurse,” she said. Holscher underwent a double mastectomy in November 2017.
Holscher’s best friend, Meghann, and other women in their local area started to donate their own breast milk, but the supply slowed down rather quickly. “I was able to get through 6 months with feeding her donor milk” said Holscher. When Holscher met Brehm through a mutual friend and confided in her about her situation, Brehm decided that she would do her best to help in any way that she could. So, she decided to share Holscher’s story on her Facebook page, Baby on the Brehm, which already had around 8,000 followers. “I just figured I can ask [on Facebook] and maybe I’ll get her a few hundred ounces. I was so overwhelmed within the first 24 hours by what people were offering and doing, I just was crying. It was like some sort of miracle,” said Brehm. Within one week, Brehm was able to collect 4,500 ounces of donated breast milk.
Brehm picked up the donations of breast milk herself and decided to store them safely in her own home and at Nebraska Medicine, a local medical center. One particular woman from Kansas, who was undergoing treatment for cancer herself, drove for two hours in order to donate 1,300 ounces of her daughter’s breast milk. “I had people offering to send it on dry ice from Canada and people offering freezer space at different drop-off points. It’s overwhelmingly beautiful to me what humans will do for other humans,” said Brehm.
Read on to learn more about this heartfelt initiative and how you can help.
Photo: Inside Edition