It takes a village.
That motto rang true for an Iowa mom whose recent breast cancer diagnosis left her unable to breastfeed her third child as she had done with her two previous children.
Jackie Holscher, 33, was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in May, just weeks after she gave birth to her daughter, Genevieve.
Holscher breastfed until her diagnosis and was saddened when she realized she would not be able to any longer.
She immediately enlisted the help of her best friend, Meghann, who started pumping for Holscher. Holscher also began receiving donations from local moms with the help of another friend, Brandy.
“I was able to through 6 months with feeding her donor milk,” Holscher said.
As Holscher's November mastectomy approached, she met up with Ashli Brehm, who she'd met while receiving treatment, and expressed her fears about not having enough breast milk for Genevieve.
“We were talking about fears of my milk running shy and how I was trying to find more milk from friends. Meghann’s supply had started to slow down,” Holscher said.
That’s when Brehm, who is also a breast cancer survivor, took to her blog to ask for breast milk donations for Holscher. She couldn’t have expected the response she received.
“Within a day I had thousands of ounces offered between comments, the post and private messages and emails,” Brehm said. “I expected a couple of hundred, but I was shocked. I was crying. The human spirit never ceases to amaze me.”
Brehm said people were offering to send the milk on dry ice and offering their freezer spaces as well.
Holscher said the donations have taken a huge burden off her shoulders.
“The financial burden of having to buy formula when you weren’t planning for it in a time when you are having to give up a lot of things is hard. This just made it more manageable,” Holscher said.
Holscher has collected 4,500 ounces milk since the post went up. They have currently stopped collecting because their freezers are full.
“I was passionate about being able to breastfeed. By doing donor milk, it felt like it was a way for me to provide the way that I wanted to," Holscher said.
"It felt like cancer didn’t take everything. It didn’t win in that aspect. The tremendous amount of support we have received and just the generosity of women, I am blown away. God just continuously provides for us," she added.