Pregnant with her second child, Jamie Thomas was caring for her toddler and looking forward to growing her family when she was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of breast cancer. Facing four rounds of chemotherapy before the birth of her child, a double mastectomy and more chemo a month after the birth, she reached out to Jill at Babyrabies.com with one wish: donor milk for her newborn daughter. Jamie knew she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed and wanted to give her baby donor milk to counteract any ill effects of the chemo in utero, and give her baby the best chance for a healthy start to life. Our hearts went out to Jamie and her family; her adorable son Jack and wonderful husband Bob.
An outpouring of support for Jamie in the hundreds of comments on Jill’s page, loads of willingness to donate milk (yay!), and scores of people who wanted to help in other ways, followed. We offered to set up a cash donation fund through Best for Babes, so that people who wanted to, could donate money to help cover costs associated with getting Amelia-Rae donor milk, and for Jamie’s uncovered medical expenses, childcare help, or whatever she needed to better care for her baby and herself, while she recovered from surgery and underwent more chemo. By setting up the fund through Best for Babes (a 501(c)(3) non-profit), donors can receive a tax deduction and know that their gift is going directly to help Jamie and other mothers and babies in need. We are happy to report that Amelia-Rae has been thriving on breastmilk and that Jamie has come through her ordeal.
A Hope To Help Others — like Baby Charlotte Rose
Jamie had another wish: that that this fund would grow and help other babies and mothers in need of donor milk and better care. It means a great deal to Jamie that she turn her awful experience into a positive for another family.
Here’s what we want the Miracle Milk(TM) Fund to do, with your help:
1) Ensure that medically compromised and premature infants whose mothers can’t or decide not to breastfeed have improved access to donor milk. After mother’s own milk, donor milk from a HMBANA milk bank is the next best option. Unfortunately, only 1.5 million of the 8 million ounces needed by premature and compromised babies is donated every year, and the short-term cost is prohibitive for parents who cannot get insurance coverage.
2) Make more banked donor milk available to premature or medically compromised babies of all ages like Charlotte Rose, a non-breastfed 11 month who suffered a traumatic brain injury and who is recovering from near-death with the help of human milk! Read Charlotte’s miraculous story here, and the update here.
3) Educate health care professionals about the power of human milk to promote health and healing in medically compromised babies of all ages -- like Charlotte Rose.
3) Educate health care professionals about lactation management, breast care, and cancer warning signs while breastfeeding, so that abnormalities can be found earlier. When Jamie told us that she had persistent mastitis in the same spot while breastfeeding her first child, our hearts sank. Most IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) know these symptoms can potentially be a warning sign for breast cancer, but too many Ob/Gyns who are not educated about the lactating breast do not. Although it’s impossible to tell in hindsight, Jamie could possibly have been helped earlier, and there are too many moms like her –including Best for Babes Co-Founder Danielle Rigg*. The number of pregnant or lactating women with breast cancer is on the rise and these women are not being adequately served.
4) Enroll Breast Cancer Organizations (BCOs) to link arms with us, and use their funds, reach and clout to demand more research, better care, prevention education, early diagnosis education, and treatment for this vulnerable group of moms. We want BCOs to help us to raise awareness of the unique power of breastfeeding and human milk to protect against breast cancer in mothers AND in girl babies –human milk may reduce a girl baby’s lifetime risk of getting breast cancer by 25%**
5) Take care of other pregnant or new mothers like Jamie.
To donate to this unique fund, click the button on the right. We are going to root for and cheer and fight for Jamie, her family, and other moms and babies who deserve donor milk and better care and hope you will too!
All donations to the Miracle Milk® Fund go directly to providing resources for families like Jamie’s and Charlotte Rose’s.
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Note: Mastitis does NOT cause cancer, and MOST cases of mastitis are harmless. If, however, you have recurring mastitis that is difficult to treat and occurs repeatedly in the same spot, it could be an indication of abnormal cell growth. Please see an IBCLC, and don’t hesitate to get more than one opinion. You can find one by zip code at www.ilca.org.
*Best for Babes Co-Founder Danielle Rigg is a cancer survivor who experienced the same symptoms as Jamie, at the same age–37–before her first mammogram, but was lucky to be diagnosed early and not be pregnant (but unlucky enough to have a double mastectomy).
**Freudenheim J.L., et al. Exposure to breastmilk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer. Epidemiology. 1994 May; 5(3): 324-31.
A very special thanks to our C.A.R.E.-WHO Alliance members, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Pumpease, and Fairhaven Health for generously matching individual donations to the fund.
And thanks also to Daniel Martinez and John Baker of SimplyRaise.com for donating their time to making giving to the Miracle Milk(TM) Fund as easy as possible!