Valarie, who lives in Minnesota, had been undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer 28 weeks into her pregnancy. Although, happily, she delivered a healthy son, she initially found it difficult to find a lactation consultant who would help her to safely continue treatment and breastfeed her new baby.
However, after eventually seeking out a consultant who provided the information and support she needed, Valarie was able to breastfeed her baby for the first time, and the picture she took to commemorate the occasion has now been shared more than 13,000 times.
Image: Facebook/Valarie Molstre
Underneath the image, which she posted on Facebook, Valarie wrote:
'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.'
She has since received dozens of supportive comments from wellwishers around the globe. 'Thanks for sharing your story, val. You're one of the strongest people I know,' said one, whilst another wrote, 'You are my hero! You need a cape!'
We're so pleased that she found a consultant that was willing to help her, and the advice that she's offering to other mums in her situation will surely prove invaluable. Valarie, you are one strong lady!