National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Balloons for Audrey

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Recently a sweet mother one of my local groups sent out an email that changed me.

Audrey was asking for breast milk donations because she recently found her breast cancer has returned and she wanted to secure a supply of milk for her nursing baby girl.

I was so touched, seeing the love that Audrey has towards her baby girl and the extent that she would go through to continue to feed her breast milk… it made me desperately wish that I was still nursing and could help.

As many of you know, I was absolutely smitten with breastfeeding… I never wanted it to end.  It was just such a special time and felt so *right* to me.  I am a huge fan of breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding (called *extended* in our society, but “normal breastfeeding” might be a better term worldwide!) and beyond the health benefits for the child, I just truly loved it.

Alas, as my kids are 8 and 10, so my nursing years are far far behind me… now it just feels like a magical dream that I was lucky enough to dream, long ago.

 

But this young mama’s email stayed with me.  For days, I thought about her.  No longer nursing, I wasn’t sure what I could do, but I wanted to do something.

I emailed Audrey and she shared this with me:

“My name is Audrey and I want to share my story with you.

Five years ago we got the best news parents could possibly get, we were pregnant!!!! 

We had a 7-year-old and had been trying to have another and finally did.   I was 13 weeks pregnant when I decided one night to give myself a breast exam.  I had never done this before but felt compelled to do it. 

Well, I found a lump, but didn’t think too much of it because breast cancer doesn’t run in my family. 

At my next appointment I pointed it out and my Mid Wife said I needed to get it checked out.  Long story short… it was breast cancer, and my rollercoaster ride began.  The prenatal practice I was using called me to say they couldn’t see me anymore because I was high risk.   I had wanted a midwife and a peaceful birth experience and now suddenly I am high risk and having to go to MUSC Hospital… all I could think of was the TV show, Greys Anatomy… not what I wanted.

I managed to do some research and find Sharon Bond, the Mid Wife instructor at MUSC. Sharon reviewed my case and took me in.  I also got a wonderful Doula, Mandy.
 

Being pregnant with breast cancer, the first thing my surgeon told me was that I should abort the pregnancy because I had a lot of treatment to deal with and the baby may not make it.  I am a very strong-willed person and stubborn, my answer to that was simply “NO,”  I was not going to be the one to end the life of my unborn child.

So I had a lumpectomy then 5 rounds of Chemo all of which I handle like a pro, I would not let chemo bring me down, I never got sick continued to work as much as I could and took care of my family.

At around 37 weeks the placenta stopped feeding the baby so we needed to induce.  I had a healthy baby girl and the joke was: “your baby has more hair than you do!”

Determined to breastfeed I begged the doctors to allow me 5 weeks before we started chemo again.  I already had moms lined up to help me continue to feed my baby the mamas milk and wet nurse her to keep her familiar with the breast.  My best friend Becky was one of them and a new friend, Reva, I met through our pediatrician, was another.

I had other moms pumping for me, and the birth center in Manning putting together a cooler full of milk and bringing it to me.

I had a mom in Columbia we would go to twice a month and pick up milk from, it was just amazing the amount of people who formed together to help me and my baby, Ava Gace.

During Chemo I pumped and dumped everyday and all day long just to keep my milk supply because I was going to feed my baby again.  Finally the day came when I was done with chemo and had to start radiation.  I was told it would dry up my milk and I just said “no that can’t happen.”

I nursed her through radiation and on till she was 2.  I ended up pregnant again even after they told me I wouldn’t be able to have any more babies.  I had a healthy baby boy who nursed till 2+ then again I got pregnant.  The joke now was “chemo sure made you fertile!”

My youngest, Ana Jade, is 3 months old and breastfeeding currently.  During a recent routine mammogram they found something.  I had a biopsy… and the cancer is back.

I will soon have to stop to start treatment but once again I was able to reach out to people and start receiving mamma’s milk to get her through my treatments.  I feel so lucky to have this support of mammas around me and that they are willing to share such a precious thing. 

I pray everyday that I will have enough to get her through this and that once again I will be able to nurse her again.

 

 

Wow.  Audrey just absolutely inspires me.  And aren’t her children just the most adorable kids ever?  Ever!

But what could I do?  I talked it over with my family.  We wanted to do something fun and positive and uplifting and supportive.  Something that would be easy and fun for people to join in on, and ultimately fill Audrey up with the joy of knowing that there were tons of folks out there who are sending their positive thoughts and prayers too.

Then… inspiration struck!  It’s not breast milk, but in honor of October being National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in honor of this very special, wonderful mother who touched my heart, I’d like to host a fun event!  It is LITERALLY the most “uplifting” think I could think of… balloons!

 

 

Here is what’s going up.  I am filling up my home, literally, with balloons for Audrey.

I hope to fill it with dozens, hundreds even!  My blog will be a visual virtual party where you can follow along with seeing all the balloons released in my home and watch them as they float down, one by one, over the next month or two.

The details:

We are going to release one mylar balloon per person who wants to support this event… we’ll write your name on the balloon and release them all at once in our living room.  Our living room has high vaulted ceilings and will be so magical full of balloons of love.

Each balloon will have a name… if you order five balloons, you’ll have five balloons with your name and five chances of winning.

The very last balloon to come down will win $100 worth of free gifts: a $50 gift certificate to my Heartsong shop (which can be put towards ANYTHING!  Home decor, holiday gifts, Health eCourses… anything at all!) and a $50 gift certificate to my husband’s on-line supplement shop, Organic Medicine Now, full of great all natural vitamins and supplements.  You can pick anything in his shop: antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, tonics, tinctures… perfect timing as we enter the fall cold and flu season!

But the real prize is sending love and support to such a fabulous woman.

Audrey will get every cent we raise through this raffle, minus the cost of the balloons.  We are asking for $5 per balloon to be released… half will cover the cost of the balloon and half will go straight to Audrey to help with medical expenses and such.

Help spread the love!  Pass this post along and ask your friends to add a balloon to the Koniver household craziness in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Then make certain you do a breast self exam today.  Do it.   And listen, if you just want to purchase a balloon to make my house that much more crazy and balloon-filled so you can laugh at me as I live among masses of falling balloons for a few weeks, I won’t hold it against ya.

 

Check back on my blog every week for pictures of the big release and for follow-up pics of the balloons and they slowly come down over the fall months ahead.  Once only a single balloon remains, I will announce the winner here!

You can sign up for automatic email alerts of new blog posts by entering your email address in the yellow sign up box on the left.

 

Thank you so much for supporting a beautiful mother and spreading awareness to as many woman as possible — make it a habit to do a breast self exam constantly.  I don’t try to *remember* once a month… I find that too difficult.  Just do a simple exam every week or so as you bathe… it won’t add but 2 minutes to your shower routine and the soap will help make the exam easier to notice subtle changes as you hand glides along with the bubbles.

Be sure to address anything you find that concerns you with your personal physician.

If you want to sign up for automatic email alerts that remind you to do your self exams, check out this website.

Purchase 1, 2, 5 or more balloons for Audrey right here.    xoxo, Laura