The West Australian teacher told how she noticed a pinkish discolouration in her first lot of breast milk just weeks before giving birth. Initially brushing her symptoms off as pregnancy side effects, Kate Grainger is now urging other women to check their breasts for the alarming warning sign.
Kate was 35 weeks into her pregnancy when she alerted her obstetrician that her colostrum had an unusual colour.
The 31-year-old, who had two children at the time, initially believed the symptom was a harmless symptom of gestation.
It wasn’t until the expectant mother was referred to have an ultrasound that scans revealed a mass in one of her breasts.
Results also showed a swollen lymph node and dilated ducts throughout the affected organ.
Further biopsies confirmed the walnut-sized mass was a rare grade three triple-negative cancer.
Triple-negative breast cancer affects about 13 in 100,000 women across the globe each year, representing about 15 percent of all invasive breast cancer.
It is one of three types of breast cancer, yet one of the most challenging to treat due to its aggressive nature.
WebMD explains: “It’s more likely to have spread beyond your breast at the time it’s found.”
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What’s more, there’s a higher chance it will come back within the first three years after treatment.
Distraught by the news, Kate and her husband eventually took to social media to deliver the update to their loved ones.
“I am currently 37 weeks pregnant with our little babe,” Kate wrote in a Facebook Post.
“We are meeting with the specialist team… to learn more and come up with a plan to get bub here safely and to find out the full extent of what is happening right now.”
Just days after the diagnosis, Kate underwent a cesarean to deliver her son Heath, born on February 25th.
The mother of three started her first course of chemotherapy the following month, followed by a double mastectomy – a procedure involving the removal of breast tissue.
A GoFundMe page has since been set up to provide support for Kate’s accommodation, flights, meals and care. It has received 916 donations to date.
Why is triple-negative breast cancer deadly?
In essence, triple-negative breast cancer is cancer that doesn’t have receptors for oestrogen and progesterone.
Without these receptors, hormone treatment and other targeted cancer drugs rarely work.
Aside from unusual discharge or fluid from either of your nipples, health bodies have flagged several warning signs to look out for.
The NHS cautions that a “new lump, swelling, thickening, or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that was not there before”, is equally important to get checked by a doctor.
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