Lauren Smoke, known to many as Miss Lauren from Bubbles Academy in Chicago, has been battling breast cancer and did so through her entire pregnancy. She recently gave birth to a healthy and handsome baby boy named Nico. Lauren is one strong mama and we honor her as October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
By: Lauren Smoke
I had looked forward to pregnancy for most of my life. I pictured cute maternity dresses, prenatal yoga, baby bump pictures, and eating all the food I desired. My husband and I had just returned from our honeymoon when I took a test and found out that this dream was coming true! I wasted no time and started googling about fetal development and pregnancy symptoms, and basically pulled all-nighters designing the nursery on Pinterest. I was so excited, I didn’t mind any of the first trimester annoyances like having to pee every hour or the sore boobs.
While massaging said sore boobs one night, I was surprised to feel a small hard lump. A sinking feeling set in, and it stayed with me as I made an appointment for an ultrasound and a biopsy. The doctors assured me it was probably nothing to worry about, so I put the lump out of my mind and focused on my baby bump. At 8 weeks I finally had a visit with my OB, and my husband and I got to see our raspberry sized baby for the first time! Our happiness was cut short when two hours later I received the phone call that I had breast cancer. I was prepared for morning sickness. I was prepared for stretch marks. I wasn’t prepared for cancer.
I still shudder when I think about that phone call and the hours and days that followed. I sobbed as I wondered what would happen to the tiny baby I had already grown so attached to. I screamed that it wasn’t fair; that I was a vegetarian, in great shape and had been doing everything right. I exhausted myself trying to figure out what I did to cause this. I was 33, healthy and pregnant. This wasn’t supposed to happen to people like me.
But it did. And I found out in the following days that it happened to lots of young pregnant women. A website called pregnantwithcancer.org displayed stories of dozens of women who were diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy. I connected with a woman from one of my pregnancy apps who was currently going through breast cancer treatment while pregnant. I found a Facebook group full of pregnant cancer- fighting warriors. And from all these other moms, I found hope.
I realized that I wasn’t alone. My cancer mama friends are what got me through some of the hardest moments of my diagnosis. They answered the scary questions that kept me up at night. They gave me the courage I needed to finally shave my head when I couldn’t take the clumps of hair coming out in my brush from the chemotherapy. I believe I might have drowned in darkness that first weekend after my diagnosis if it hadn’t been for the help of these brave women. They gave me hope that my baby and I could fight cancer together and come out stronger on the other side.
While you will never hear me say “cancer is a gift,” it has taught me to focus on the good things in my life. With every tiny kick, my strong, determined baby reminds me of how lucky I am to have him fighting with me. In my first year of marriage, my husband has become my superman. My friends and family have encouraged me and made me laugh when I most needed it. I have been overwhelmed with more love than I could imagine, and I am so grateful. I thank my cancer-fighting mamas every single day, and hope that by sharing my story I can give confidence to other moms battling cancer or whatever seemingly insurmountable obstacles that may be standing in their way. We are all in this together.