This Mom Credits Her Newborn With Helping Her Detect Breast Cancer After Her Doctors Missed It

"It's because of him that I'm now being treated."

While there are many benefits to breastfeeding, few moms can credit the practice with saving their life. But mom Sarah Boyle believes that having her baby breastfeed may have done just that. It was during the practice that Boyle was able to discover that she had breast cancer, despite doctors telling her the lump in her right breast was just a cyst.

The 26-year-old mom from Staffordshire, England discovered the lump in 2013, but at the time, doctors diagnosed it as benign and told her not to worry. Over the next three years, she continued to have it scanned, but the results came back that it was nothing serious. Doctors attributed the change in size to hormones.


When Boyle gave birth to her son Teddy in 2016, she noticed that after a few months of breastfeeding, he would get very upset and even push her away. The new mom soon realized that Teddy only did this when she fed him from her right breast, where her lump was.

Boyle went back to the doctors who suspected the lump might be from a plugged duct due to breastfeeding. However, she refused to accept the answer given how distressed her son was and insisted on a biopsy.

When the results came back, she was diagnosed with Grade 2 triple negative breast cancer.

Boyle is now halfway through treatment with plans to have a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. While the results of the test were upsetting, she credits Teddy for helping to save her life.

She told the BBC, "Nobody can say for certain whether it was Teddy, but I know that if it wasn't for him then this time next year it could've been completely different if I'd listened to doctors, but instead I listened to Teddy."

She adds, "[It's] because of him that I'm now being treated."

There is speculation about whether a baby can "pick up" on breast cancer. Catherine Priestley, a clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care told the BBC about a "small number of women" who had found their babies stopped feeding from their breasts prior to being diagnosed. 

Essential Baby Australia writes about a few other moms who have shared similar stories, and Boyle explains how a mom from France recently wrote to her saying she went through a very similar experience.

However, Dr Jasmine Just, a health information officer at Cancer Research UK, says there is "no good evidence that difficulties breastfeeding are likely to be caused by breast cancer, or that the disease changes breast milk so that a baby might not want to feed."

For this reason, breastfeeding women should not rely on this method as a reliable way to detect breast cancer. Women should always be aware of how to perform self-exams, and know the warning signs and symptoms to look out for. 

Regardless of what the evidence says, however, Boyle knows she would not have sought further examination if it weren't for the perceived warning signs from her infant. Fortunately, she is now on the road to recovery.

(H/T: Babble)


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