It is meant to be an exciting time in a family’s life – awaiting the arrival of a newborn baby. But for Kim Elliott, it was one of the scariest.
It was last fall, and relatively early on in her pregnancy, that Elliott noticed one of her breasts had gotten really hard. Wanting to chalk it up to hormones, Elliott checked with other women to see if they had experienced something similar. The answer was yes, but it eventually went away.
Elliott’s lump remained stubborn.
“Something kept nagging me about it,” Elliott said.
So she went in to see her doctor. An ultrasound was performed. It came back negative. Yet something pushed her doctor to encourage Elliott to see a breast surgeon at Huntsville Hospital.
“I didn’t want to go,” Elliott said. “She said it was nothing and the ultrasound came back normal. Why pursue it?”
It was Elliott’s husband, Chad, who encouraged her to follow up. Heading in for another ultrasound, doctors noted a little inflammation, a possible side effect of her pregnancy. Still, they persisted, opting for a biopsy of the area.
Two days later, Oct. 25, 2018, Elliott received the news: she had HER2-positive breast cancer.
“I was just in the twilight zone,” she recalled.
Doctors determined Elliott had an 8 to 10 centimeter mass in her breast and devised a plan – she would have two rounds of chemotherapy and an opportunity to recover prior to delivering her daughter. Evie arrived weeks later, Dec. 19, via C-section, five weeks early.
While Elliott was engaged in her own health battle, one of the most difficult times during her disease was seeing her newborn daughter in the NICU, especially around the holidays. The couple also has another child, Elijah, 3.
“For me that was my hardest time, because I had my heart set on having Christmas at home,” Elliott said.
Today, mom and baby are doing just fine. Elliott underwent a mastectomy, as well as more chemotherapy and radiation after Evie was born. Evie is a strong, healthy and curious baby, made strong by breast milk donated by Chad’s sister and the kindness of strangers in the area.
The family has had to depend on their family, friends and church community a lot over the past year, and has been astounded by their generosity, whether it be delivering meals, grocery shopping, praying, or stepping in to help take care of the kids when Elliott physically could not after her surgery.
“Along this journey we had so many people say, ‘What can we do? What can we do?’” Elliott said. “My answer was, ‘Pray.’ I don’t know what you can do. I don’t know from day-to-day what you can do, but one thing you can do is pray, because that’s what got us through. Faith and amazing people that also had faith.
“As a young mom it’s just faith and a prayer day-by-day. Have I yelled at times? Yes. Have I asked somebody to watch the kids while I take a nap? Yes, a lot.”