‘I have cancer.’ But how?! I’m 27 years old. I just had a baby! She couldn’t grow up without me. I wouldn’t allow it.’: New mom battles rare, aggressive form of breast cancer

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“One of the most beautiful moments in a woman’s life is usually having her child. It changes who you are, what you are, and how you live. It’s that thing that can’t be described. The problem with that tends to be after.

Your body has changed, it’s no longer the one you had before. You’re tired all the time. When did you last sleep? When you have that six weeks postpartum appointment, it can be good to have someone asking how you’re feeling and if anything is wrong. But mine… mine did not happen the way I expected.

side profile of mother holding baby girl close to her face touching noses
Courtesy of Taylor Norman

After my daughter was born, I started to get lumps in my breast. I tried everything to remove them, assuming they were clogged milk ducts. At my six week appointment, I had her examine them to see. Sure enough, clogged milk ducts and cysts. Very common for a mom, but when I explained one felt different, she reassured me there was nothing wrong. Little did I know, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Weeks went on and that lump continued to grow and eventually became painful. I decided to get a second opinion from a lovely woman who I swear has saved my life. Her reaction was what told me, ‘Oh no. This is not good.’

Instantly, I was sent to the breast clinic to run tests on a lump that was now trying to pop through my skin. Five hours I was there, horribly terrified and alone due to Covid restrictions. Two ultrasounds, two mammograms, and I was home. I tried to stay optimistic, but every ounce of me screamed something was wrong.

I had a sleepless night and woke up to the worst news I could’ve imagined. The day my daughter turned five months is a day I will never forget. Ten days before I was going to turn 28. Invasive ductal carcinoma grade 3.

woman taking a selfie with hair down and a soft smile
Courtesy of Taylor Norman

What did that mean? Handy dandy google was where I went to find my answers. A highly aggressive breast cancer in the milk ducts. I was frozen. I came out of my bedroom crying the hardest I had cried in a long time, just repeating over and over, ‘I have cancer.’ But how?! I’m 27 years old! I just had a baby! I have no family history! Why me?!

With the weeks that followed, I was in a haze of doctors appointments and depression. My tumor was getting bigger and I still wasn’t in treatment. Over a month I waited. I knew I was dying. The tumor had grown to take over half of my breast by this point, and the pain was unbearable.

After that month I finally got the phone call. ‘Taylor, if you’re up for it, we can schedule your first chemo for tomorrow.’ Yes! The time was here. I was scared but I knew this was my first step to having a life with my baby girl. I needed to do this for her. She couldn’t grow up without me. I wouldn’t allow it.

baby girl sitting on couch between two cushions wearing a onesie
Courtesy of Taylor Norman

That day was one of the scariest of my life. Talking with my oncologist, having blood work done, then going to see the room where I would spend so much of the next few months. That room has become a prison. It’s the room where I can’t be with my daughter, where I’m hooked up to IVs, and where the poison is being pumped into my veins making me feel horrible.

‘Don’t worry, Taylor. All the meds we’ve given you will prevent most of the side effects, including nausea. You’ll be fine.’ How wrong they were. Within the week, I was in the ER severely ill and not able to eat. Within two weeks, I was admitted to the hospital for four days due to an infection that caused such a high fever I was out of it for days.

Alone, not allowed to get out of bed without help, being sponge bathed in my bed like and elderly person, I was done. By day three, I started to turn for the better. But, that was the day I lost my hair.

I made the most of it and said when I got out, I’d chop it off. Two days later, that’s exactly what happened. It was an amazing moment. I call it my turning point. I was surrounded by friends and family and I couldn’t have been happier. As a hairstylist, I had seen many women go through what I was going through, and I channeled their energy to get through this.

breast cancer warrior showing hair loss due to chemo
Courtesy of Taylor Norman

Though that was one of the last good days I had for awhile, it was one of my favorites in my journey. The second dose of chemo came around and it shut my body down. I was sick every day, couldn’t eat for almost three weeks, started becoming tachycardic, and lost 15-20 lbs.

I was a shell of the woman who had had a baby seven months prior. I called and called and called my oncology team until I had all but given up. There was nothing they could do. We had to wait it out and make a new plan. That new plan would be the one to save my life.

We instantly changed chemo and took out some extra meds. We also discovered my heart was working overtime due to my thyroid being effected by the chemo. Six meds a day, chemo once a week, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Slowly, I have become the mom I always thought I would be – the woman who is a goof and loves to crack jokes, the one who loves doughnuts a little too much. Not only am I a warrior, I am part of the less than 5% of breast cancer cases. I call myself a unicorn because I am so rare. This will not beat me.

woman with breast cancer takes selfie in a robe
Courtesy of Taylor Norman

I will be able to finish this journey, get surgery, and call myself a survivor. That day will come and when my daughter gets older, she will know how hard I fought to be here for her. She is my reason to live. She is what I prayed for, and though this is not the journey I thought I’d be going through as a first time mom, it has taught me how truly blessed I am with the village of people I never realized I had.

Not only that but I have chosen to make the most out of my journey by making videos to help others going through the same thing. I feel the reason I was dealt this hand was to help people, and that is what I try to do every day through my videos and by making sure to answer any and all questions my fellow breast cancer patients have.

I felt alone during a nice chunk of my journey, so I have chosen to make sure no one feels that way during theirs. This is my story, my journey, and my time to make a change.”

breast cancer fighter takes smiling selfie in pink shirt
Courtesy of Taylor Newman

This story was submitted to Love What Matters  by Taylor Norman. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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