West Australian mum Kate Grainger tells of shocking cancer diagnosis after detecting unusual breast milk colour

A West Australian teacher is urging all women to be vigilant in checking their breasts for abnormalities after an unusual symptom during her third pregnancy led to a shock diagnosis.

Kate Grainger was weeks away from giving birth to her third child when she noticed her first lot of breast milk was a discoloured pinkish shade.

The 31-year-old, who at the time had two children aged under three, brushed off the sign thinking it had to do with her pregnancy, 7 News Life reports.

Ms Grainger and her husband Joel, 35, continued with their preparation to welcome their third child, which involved travelling 1400km southwest of their regional home to be closer to medical facilities.

At about 35-weeks, the soon-to-be mother-of-three visited her Bunbury-based obstetrician, where she mentioned her colostrum, which would usually be a creamy tone, had an unusual colour.

The pregnant mum was instantly referred to have an ultrasound of her breast taken, with results returning the life-changing news Ms Grainger had a walnut-sized mass in one of her breasts.

The scan also revealed a swollen lymph node and dilated ducts throughout the affected breast, with the mum later undergoing a number of biopsies and scans to determine the state of her health.

Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with rare grade three triple negative breast cancer – a cancer that does not present with any of the three receptors commonly found on breast cancer cells.

“Around 15 per cent of early breast cancers are triple negative,” the Breast Cancer Network Australia said on its website.

While it’s usually very responsive to chemotherapy, it can be more aggressive with a quicker tumour growth rate according to Breastcancer.org.

The news devastated the couple, with Ms Grainger telling 7 News Life she wanted to be sedated due to how upset she was.

Eventually, the parents worked up the courage to deliver the life-shattering news to their family, with Ms Grainger sharing her diagnosis to Facebook.

“I am currently 37 weeks pregnant with our little babe,” she said under a post explaining she had a life update.

“What is meant to be a peaceful time preparing for the upcoming birth, has suddenly changed.”

Ms Grainger explained her diagnosis, revealing the cancer had aggressively spread to one lymph node.

“We are meeting with the specialist team … to learn more and come up with a plan to get bub here safely and to find out the full extent as to what is happening right now,” she said.

She concluded her post with the message: “check your boobs”.

Days after her diagnosis, Ms Grainger was scheduled to give birth via caesarean, or C-section. She welcomed her son Heath on February 25.

In the week that followed, Ms Grainger’s husband wheeled his wife between the maternity ward and cancer ward for further tests and scans, the couple’s friend Holly Smith said on a GoFundMe page set up for the family.

In the first week of March, Ms Grainger underwent her first round of a 12-week chemotherapy treatment. She also has to undergo a double mastectomy followed by potentially another round of chemo treatment in the months that come.

On March 8, the mother-of-three made the decision to donate her long blonde hair after cutting it down to a bob, noting it would be “all gone within a couple of weeks”.

“Over the last few years, I’ve donated my hair a few times to make wigs for people who have cancer and alopecia,” she said in a Facebook post.

“Today was my last donation for a while.”

On March 23, Ms Smith posted an update to the family’s GoFundMe page sharing the Grainger family had managed to secure some short-term accommodation, noting they were still 1400 km away from their Newman home.

“Chemo is a bit average, but taking each day with minimal side effects is an absolute win. Kate’s had some headscarves delivered, so she‘s feeling a lot better about losing her hair soon,” she said.

“Baby Heath is doing well, just a sore tummy while he adjusts to formula. It’s still weird not breastfeeding for Kate.”

The update added a quote from Ms Grainger which reads: “It’s kind of like muscle memory and occasionally I catch my body (and heart) being really confused while I give him a bottle. But Heaths a big 3.5kg now!”

As for the couple’s two other children, Iris, 2, and Leo, 3, Ms Smith said the youngsters are taking “everything in their stride”.

“We all know Leo loves routine, so he’s done exceptionally well adjusting to the big changes in the last month. (Iris) will happily tell anyone and everyone that ‘Mum has bugs in her boobie!’,” she said.

As Ms Grainger continues to undergo treatment, Ms Smith is encouraging everyone to support her friend’s family as they rebuild the next year of their lives away from home.

“The Grainger’s have been inundated with messages of love and offerings of help – however with their home base being in Newman there are a number of logistical challenges,” Ms Smith said.

“We have set up this GoFundMe to provide support for the ongoing costs of Kate’s accommodation, flights, meals and care as she goes through her vigorous treatment in the coming months.”

The family is $2,000 away from meeting their $70,000 goal, with 804 people having already donated.

Ms Grainger said she is grateful for everyone’s donations and messages of support.

“Keep checking those boobs and kissing your babies,” her latest Facebook post read.

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