An American woman who received a heartbreaking diagnosis just hours before giving birth is now speaking out about her difficult medical journey.
Brooke Taylor, 32, said she had a "maternal instinct" that something was wrong during the final weeks of her pregnancy.
It turns out the mum-to-be was right. On July 22, the same day she gave birth to her first child, Taylor was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Her reaction to the news was cut short, as it was immediately followed by her rushing to the hospital for an emergency C-section.
"I waddled into the bedroom where my husband was and I just let myself cry," Taylor said of the moment a doctor called with her diagnosis. "But I didn't cry for very long because my obstetrician called and said, 'How fast can you get here?'"
Taylor had believed something was wrong for a while, bringing up a lump on her breast multiple times during doctor's visits. She was originally told it might be pregnancy-related, until one very insistent appointment.
"I actually took off my shirt and said, 'I'm not leaving until you feel this,'" Taylor said. "I will never forget the look on her face when she felt the lump. I saw the color drain from her face and she looked at me."
That was 38 weeks into her pregnancy. Taylor was officially diagnosed shortly after, six hours before her daughter, Elsie James, was born without any complications.
"It was a miracle in itself that she was healthy and ready to join the world," Taylor said. "We spent the whole day just being kind of in shock and enjoying our new baby."
The new mum began chemotherapy within weeks, bracing herself for 20 weeks of treatment that would be followed by a double mastectomy and radiation.
Three months into treatment, Taylor now feels like she's settling in and is able to focus on being a mom. For example, she said, she tries to cope with her constant fatigue by sleeping whenever her daughter does.
"Now that we're in month three, I feel like the shock has finally worn off and I'm able to connect with Elsie on the more maternal level," Taylor said. "I'm better able to balance the cancer treatment with motherhood."
Taylor has also used Instagram as a way to share her journey — both as a cancer patient and new mum — in hopes of inspiring others. She said she now hears from 10 to 15 women every day on social media, many of whom have similar stories.