Breastfeeding Saved My Life: New Mom Discovers She Has Stage 3 CANCER After Having Problems Producing Milk

A New Jersey woman was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer after mistaking her symptoms for breastfeeding problems.

Lauren da Silva, 39, was pumping breast milk for her son Lucas when she noticed a lump in her right breast in April 2021.

Mrs da Silva has hidden it in a blocked milk duct – when breast milk cannot flow properly to the nipple – which was common for her.

However, when she couldn’t unclog the duct by breastfeeding or pumping, she sought medical attention. Her doctor believed the lump was just a sign of tissue changes due to breastfeeding, and an ultrasound was clear.

But about two months later, β€œmy right breast exploded,” Ms. da Silva said Women’s health.

Lauren da Silva, 39, had just found out she was pregnant with her second son, Ryan (pictured here), when she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer

Ms da Silva underwent twelve rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, had both ovaries removed and five rounds of radiation

Ms da Silva underwent twelve rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, had both ovaries removed and five rounds of radiation

Her breast had grown to about twice the size of her left breast and was starting to cause pain. Around the same time, she discovered she was pregnant with her second child.

β€œI was terrified,” said Ms da Silva, a nurse. “Not only was I pregnant, but I already had a son.”

‘I knew in my gut that I had signs of breast cancer.’

Ms da Silva was diagnosed with stage three hormone-positive HER2-positive breast cancer, which she called β€œthe worst news of my life.” She was 22 weeks pregnant with another son.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in both the US and the world.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates there will be more than 300,000 new cases this year, along with 43,700 deaths.

Overall, the chance of a woman developing breast cancer is 13 percent, meaning one in eight women will be diagnosed.

Mortality rates fell by 43 percent between 1989 and 2020, following successful public health awareness campaigns, better screening and new medications.

And nine out of ten patients are expected to survive after five years.

Symptoms include a lump in the breast or armpit, thickening or swelling of the breast, breast irritation, redness or flaking around the breast, nipple discharge such as blood, change in the size or shape of the breasts, and breast pain .

HER2 is a protein that causes breast cancer cells to grow rapidly, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). In HER2-positive breast cancer, the patient has higher HER2 levels than normal.

The ACS estimates that 15 to 20 percent of breast tumors are HER2 positive.

These cancers tend to spread more quickly than HER2-negative cancers, although they can be treated with medications that specifically target the HER2 protein.

The cancer is treatable if it has not spread. According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, localized HER2-positive breast cancer (that has not spread from the primary site) has a 100 percent survival rate.

Those with regional cases, meaning the cancer has spread to nearby locations, have a 90 percent survival rate.

However, this chance decreases significantly for distant cancer, with a five-year survival rate of 32 percent.

Hormone positive breast cancer means that these are hormone receptors on the breast cancer cells, which means that hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can cause them to grow.

Ms da Silva underwent four rounds of chemotherapy before going into labor at 33 weeks. Despite cancer treatment and premature birth, her son Ryan came out ‘perfect’.

She completed a total of twelve rounds of chemotherapy, as well as several rounds of immunotherapy to target the HER2 protein.

Ms da Silva then underwent a double mastectomy, during which both breasts were removed, and several cancerous lymph nodes were removed.

In addition, both ovaries were removed and she was given hormone blocking drugs.

β€œAt 39, I’m already in menopause, which sucks,” she said.

Ms da Silva is now cancer-free. Now the mother-of-two, whose own mother died of breast cancer in her 40s, is now advocating that women pay attention to the symptoms and seek medical help if something seems wrong.

‘Looking back on my experience, I wish I had been more aggressive after that first ultrasound. There was something,” she said.

β€œI just hope that more women will listen to their bodies when they hear a story like mine. Always check this.’