Alison Anstaett was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer at the young age of 29. A BRCA gene mutation runs in her family, making it likely that
She underwent a double mastectomy and 16 rounds of chemotherapy and is now a survivor. But after such a grueling treatment regimen, she was not expected to be able to have any more children. Doctors told her that there was less than a 10-percent chance that she’d be able to conceive a sibling for her daughter.
“They told me with the type of chemo that I went through that it would probably kill all my eggs,” said Anstaett.
But miracles sometimes happen in these most hopeless of situations. Anstaett and her husband were able to conceive a baby boy, who is due around Christmas.
However, Anstaett needed another miracle. She didn’t know how she would be able to feed her son, since her double mastectomy rendered her unable to produce breastmilk for him. She turned to moms’ groups on Facebook in the hopes of finding someone who could donate milk for him, particularly the colostrum his little body would desperately need in the first few days of life.
“I’m a breast cancer survivor and had a double mastectomy,” Anstaett wrote on the Human Milk 4 Human Babies – Kansas page on Facebook. “therefore, I’m looking for donor milk for my baby boy, due December 27th. I’m located near Kansas City. I appreciate the help!”
And on the East on Feets ~ Kansas page: “Looking to stock up my freezer soon and hoping someone is due around the same time and may be willing to donate some colostrum for the first week too. All help is appreciated!”
“I just kind of put it out there and was like, ‘Hey, can anybody help me?’ And you wouldn’t believe how many people reached out to me,” Anstaett said.
Anstaett was never expecting a response like the one she got. Women from far and wide reached out to her, offering their milk supply to feed her baby. Many of them were moms who had lost their babies to stillbirth or as preemies in the NICU. Anstaett has even managed to develop special friendships with some of these women, whose stories of heartache and hope have touched her deeply.
Sara Devoto is one such mom, who donated milk after the death of her infant son, whose name was also Logan.
“I just felt like it was meant to be for some other baby,” she said.
Anstaett screens donors before accepting breast milk donations, which can last anywhere from 6 months to a year in the deep freezer. She now has about a three months’ supply for her unborn son, and the donations continue to pour in.
Anstaett said she’s eternally grateful for the support, which means the world to her as a young mom unable to breastfeed her child.
Check out the video below to learn more about Anstaett’s painful but hopeful journey and the touching stories of the women who donated the lifegiving gift of breastmilk to her son.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?