A Missouri mother-of-four is asking for breast milk donations for her daughter as she undergoes chemotherapy.
Rhiannon Lindley, of Springfield, was diagnosed with leukemia when her youngest, Adelaide, was four months old.
Immediately after her diagnosis, she went on a ‘very intense chemotherapy regimen’ and was unable to breastfeed her infant daughter, according to the blog Love What Matters.
Family and friends both collected and donated breast milk from all over Missouri – and even Ohio – to help feed Adelaide.
However, almost one year later, donations are running low and Lindley, 27, has taken to social media asking anyone who can to help.
Rhiannon Lindley, 27, of Springfield, Missouri, was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in January 2018. Pictured: Lindley with her daughter Adelaide
At the time, her youngest daughter Adelaide was just four months old. Lindley was forced to stop breastfeeding so she could begin a ‘very intense chemotherapy regimen’. Pictured: Lindley, left, and with Adelaide, right
In late 2017, Lindley had been experiencing bruising, bone pain, migraines and fatigue, she wrote on Love What Matters.
However, the mother-of-four assumed it was just the result of having given birth in September of that year and working 80 hours a week as a nurse.
When she visited the ER in January 2018, Lindley expected she would learn she was anemic, which is when there is not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissue.
Instead, she was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
‘To say it was [devastating] doesn’t fully do justice to how all of our worlds were turned upside down,’ she wrote.
ALL is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature white blood cells called lymphocytes.
They crowd out normal white blood cells, causing the body to have a harder time fighting infections.
Symptoms include shortness of breath, easy bruising, frequent bleeding and chronic infections.
Cancerous cells cannot be passed through breast milk to a baby, but chemotherapy drugs can be. They interfere with the normal division of cells, which could harm a growing infant. Pictured: Lindley breastfeeding Adelaide before her diagnosis
Friends and family quickly began collecting and donating breast milk for Lindley. But, almost a year later, donations were running low. Pictured: Lindley feeding Adelaide with donated milk
‘Acute’ means the disease as a chance of quickly spreading throughout the body meaning that early treatment is vital, including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 6,000 adults were diagnosed with ALL in 2018 and about 1,500 died from it.
Lindley wrote on the blog post about how she was hospitalized for a month to undergo an intense round of chemotherapy.
This is when she first began asking for breast milk donations.
Although cancerous cells cannot be passed through breast milk to a baby, chemotherapy drugs can be.
According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the drugs interfere with the normal division of cells, which could harm a growing infant.
Breast milk contains antibodies, other proteins and immune cells that help prevent microorganisms from penetrating body tissue. Additionally, studies have shown that breastfed babies are less likely to catch viruses.
Donations poured in from family, friends and strangers. They sustained Adelaide for nearly a year – but now, they’re running low.
‘I am looking for breast milk donations for my daughter, Adelaide. We are almost completely out of milk for her. She has been drinking donor milk since my leukemia diagnosis and subsequent start of chemotherapy,’ Lindley wrote in a Facebook post on January 8.
‘I understand that she is over a year [old] now but she very much still loves her milk, it brings her great comfort, and it is beneficial to her immune system and in turn helps keep me from getting infections and hospitalized so often.’
She took to social media to ask for more donations. The post went viral and was shared 8,500 times. Pictured: Lindley holding Adelaide and with her three other children
Lindley has since received several dozen breast milk donations (pictured). She is in remission, but needs to undergo chemotherapy for three more years to kill any hidden cancer cells
The post quickly went viral and was shared more than 8,500 times.
Just one day later, Lindley wrote in a follow-up post that she received several dozen donations.
‘My milk search post has been spread an insane amount. Thank you to everyone who shared and donated to Adelaide,’ she wrote.
In November 2018, Lindley entered remission. She still needs to be on chemotherapy for three years to make sure all remaining cancer cells are killed.
‘I am continuing my fight daily in hopes I’m able to watch all of my children grow up and grow old myself with my husband,’ she wrote in a post.
Family friends have also created a GoFundMe account to help cover the cost of Lindley’s medical bills.
So far, more than $4,500 has been raised out of a $15,000 goal.