An Oklahoma woman who received a heartbreaking diagnosis just hours before giving birth is now speaking out about her difficult medical journey.
Brooke Taylor, 32, told "Good Morning America" she had a "maternal instinct" that something was wrong during the final weeks of her pregnancy.
It turns out the mom-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 told "Good Morning America" of the moment a doctor called with her diagnosis. "But I didn't cry for very long because my OBGYN 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 OBGYN appointment.
"I actually took off my shirt and said, ‘I'm not leaving until you feel this,'" Taylor told "Good Morning America." "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 mom began chemotherapy within weeks, bracing herself for 20 weeks of treatment that would be followed by a double mastectomy and radiation.
ORANGE FRIDAY — Game day. Day one. First day of chemo. You tell ‘em I’m coming. And hell’s coming with me. Thank you @lindsayrae19 for this A M A Z I N G @seekandswoon blanket! I’m literally swooning. 🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡
A post shared by brooke clay taylor (@ruralgoneurban) on Aug 9, 2019 at 7:57am PDT
Three months into treatment, Taylor now feels like she's settling in and is able to focus on being a mom. For example, she told "Good Morning America," 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 mom — 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.
In one recent post, Taylor commemorated the end of Breast Cancer Awareness month by sharing a photo of herself during the pregnancy. The 32-year-old told followers she wishes she could "go back" to a time before cancer dictated her decision-making. But she also said she wishes she could "savor the moments with my Sasquatch, as I called her, before knowing my body was trying to take me from her," her post read.
And on the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness month, here’s what I know. I wish I could go back, for just a minute. To live in a world where cancer isn’t the common denominator to every decision, moment, thought. To savor the moments with my Sasquatch, as I called her, before knowing my body was trying to take me from her. I’m glad I didn’t know. I’m glad there were moments of just me and my girl, e, when she kicked the hell out of my ribs and I didn’t have to think about the cancer growing in my Trojan Horse boobs. Breast Cancer Awareness month has been strange for me. I’ve been thrown into a club where I don’t want a membership, yet desperately want to tell anyone who will listen why we don’t wait and watch. While this club is full of strong, inspiring, courageous women, we don’t want any more members. We don’t want you to learn you have cancer and have a baby on the same day. We beg of you: have conversations with your doctor about your family health history, don’t put off the exam, speak up when you know something isn’t right. Deal?
A post shared by brooke clay taylor (@ruralgoneurban) on Oct 31, 2019 at 4:30pm PDT
Taylor also told "Good Morning America" she's trying to see the coincidence as a positive thing, syncing her cancer milestones with those in her daughter's life. One goal is to have "no more appointments or tests" by Elise's first birthday.
"My doctor said the goal is: at Elsie's fifth birthday I'll be able to fire him," Taylor said.