"I was taken very seriously and was diagnosed on the first time, but a lot of women are told it's just an infection, or it's something from breastfeeding," the woman said.
Being a mother is no easy feat and Christine Kump, of Channahon, Illinois, had just found out she was pregnant again, sometime in November 2020. One day, she found a lump in her breast but dismissed it as nothing serious, assuming it to be leftover scar tissue because she had had a lump in the same place when she breastfed her firstborn. "When you Google it, it says it could be breast cancer, but most likely scar tissue," Kump, 34, told Good Morning America. "I thought there's no way I have breast cancer."
She was only 34 years, and much below the recommended age to even get screened for breast cancer!
Since Kump conceived her second via IVF, she thought the soreness she felt in her breast was due to the treatment she underwent. However, the soreness didn't go away and it was soon accompanied by a burning sensation. So, she decided to consult a doctor.
"The doctor sent me to do an ultrasound but she wasn't super concerned," said Kump. "A few weeks later I went for the ultrasound and then they had me do a biopsy, which I did on Christmas Eve." On December 29, 2020, Kump got a call from her doctor, who told her she had Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer. "I was worried that I wasn't going to make it through the pregnancy," said Kump, who was eight weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed.
"I was thinking I was going to have to write letters to my [3-year-old] daughter Susie for all of her milestones because I wasn't going to be there." Since Kump had a history of cancer in her family, and since her cancer was so advanced, Kump had no option but to start chemotherapy once she entered her second trimester of pregnancy. This was safer for her and the baby because the baby's organs are more developed by then.
In May 2021, when she was in the middle of her chemotherapy treatments, she went into early labor. She welcomed her daughter, Vivian, on May 30, 2021, about three months before her due date which was supposed to be in August. "She decided to show up super early," Kump said of her daughter, who faced complications due to premature birth. "She was intubated for six days and then was on oxygen until she could breathe on her own."
Vivian had to spend nearly two months in the NICU, and only Kump and her husband were allowed to meet her. Kump continued on with chemotherapy after giving birth and completed 16 rounds in all. Her last round was in August, just a bit after bringing Vivian home. In September, Kump underwent a bilateral mastectomy. She will also have to undergo six rounds of radiation, and then undergo a hysterectomy in January 2022, since she is also at a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
Kump says she wanted to share her story because she wants women to listen to their bodies, and also raise awareness of breast cancer during pregnancy.
"I was taken very seriously and was diagnosed on the first time, but a lot of women are told it's just an infection, or it's something from breastfeeding," said Kump. "If you think something is a little off, call your doctor, and if you don't like the response you get from one provider, get a second opinion. It's so important that we advocate for ourselves."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Good Morning America (Mom diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy)