Making a difference
Days are busy at Hearts, but sometimes we receive an email that stops us in our tracks and makes our work magical. Ruth wrote to describe her experience of having a much-hoped for baby after surviving cancer, and the difference donor milk made:
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 my first question was will I still be able to have children after chemotherapy? Nobody could really give me a straight answer and I drifted through my treatment with a nagging fear that if I did survive I wouldn’t be able to ever start a family.
“Much to my surprise and happiness I fell pregnant when I was 38. During my pregnancy I started to investigate the possibility of using donated breast milk. After a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery I knew my only viable option to feed my baby was to use formula. I felt sad that I wouldn’t be able to provide my baby with breast milk but had read about a woman who had used donated milk after treatment for breast cancer. So I started to make enquiries and after many obstacles and set backs the hospital decided to fund about a weeks’ worth of donor milk.
“The breastfeeding nurse at my hospital then passed my details on to the Heart Milk Bank. As soon as the milk bank made contact with me I felt Iike I was doing the right thing. The Hearts Milk Bank delivered more donor milk which I gladly gave to my baby. It made me feel like cancer hadn’t thwarted mine or my baby’s future.
“I am extremely grateful for all of the support and guidance given by Natalie and the team. It helped me immensely. James has grown fantastically and is a healthy happy baby. He loved all of his milk from other mummies, and we are so grateful to them all. Hearts is a wonderful organisation that supports people who can’t breastfeed for a multitude of reasons. I will always appreciate being able to give James breast milk and the best possible start to life.”