Why I Wanted to Create the Baby Formula Grant

October 5, 2023

I was 21 years old when I found out I carried the BRCA1 gene mutation, giving me a lifetime risk of developing breast cancer upwards of 80%. Once I turned 25, I started undergoing breast cancer screening with MRIs, mammograms, and ultrasounds every 6 months. While this became a part of my routine, I knew at some point I would likely undergo risk-reducing surgery to lessen the anxiety associated with each of these appointments. 

Shortly before my 31st birthday, during my final year of Obstetrics and Gynecology residency training, I went in for what I thought was my standard screening MRI appointment. This time, however, a suspicious lesion and biopsy-proven disease led me to undergo further invasive testing, specialist visits, difficult discussions, and the challenging decision to undergo a no-longer prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.  

I always knew I wanted to have a family. Given my genetic predisposition, my husband and I decided early on to pursue fertility treatment with preimplantation genetic testing to prevent transmission of my BRCA mutation. I had envisioned a stepwise process of having my children, feeding them in what many consider the “traditional” way and undergoing preventative surgery thereafter. Life, however, had other plans.

When I got pregnant with my first son about a year and a half after my surgery, the realization of not being able to breastfeed became more tangible. Despite my initial excitement surrounding pregnancy, I couldn’t control feelings of apprehension. I found myself at baby and maternity stores trying to explain why I wouldn’t need a breast pump or nursing wear. This further trickled into conversations on both the labor and postpartum floor. Once I gave my son his first bottle of formula, however, he took it right away. Almost two and half years later and he is doing great. Just a few months ago we were fortunate to continue this journey by welcoming our second son who is also thriving on baby formula.  

Becoming a parent can be stressful, let alone in this context. Formula feeding my children was not my initial choice, but I am so grateful that I was able to be proactive with my health, knowing that I have done everything I can to be around for my children. I hope to empower other people impacted by breast cancer to do the same and to make the experience of formula feeding more accessible through the Baby Formula Grant with Rethink. 

Learn more about the Baby Formula Grant, here.

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