Ontario mothers give each other breast milk after separate cancers

An Ottawa woman who received breast milk for her nursing newborn while battling cancer is now returning the favour to her one-time donor.

Ottawa mother got milk from Belleville, Ont., woman two years ago, now sends hers the other way

An Ottawa woman has a chance to return the favour to another mom who sent breast milk during her illness. 2:21

An Ottawa woman who received breast milk for her nursing newborn while battling cancer is now returning the favour to her one-time donor.

Meggan Larson sent a freezer full of breast milk to a Belleville, Ont., woman who will be undergoing chemotherapy. That same woman sent her breast milk when Larson was unable to nurse during her chemotherapy two years ago. (CBC)

Meggan Larson said she was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, months after giving birth to her second son Mikka.

Since women undergoing chemotherapy can’t nurse because of the medication involved, and since she only had about 48 hours from the time she was diagnosed to the time treatment started, Larrson turned to the Facebook page "Human Milk for Human Babies."

The page was set up by mothers who donate their breast milk to other mothers in need, which fit the description both Larson and Bridget Burke-Purdy, a complete stranger living about 250 kilometres away in Belleville, Ont.

"My heart went out to her, I thought that just has to be the hardest situation to be in," Burke-Purdy said.

"So I asked moms for whatever milk they had, whatever milk they could pump and I pumped my own milk and we collected it all and brought it up to her in Ottawa."

"She dropped off all this milk for me, she pulled up in a car with all these pro-breast feeding stickers, she's very excited about that sort of thing," Larson said.

"Breast milk really is the most nourishing option to help our children grow, also (Mikka) was seven weeks early and preemies in particular need that breast milk."

Roles reversed

Larson said she's now a healthy mother of three.

However, the roles of her and her donor have reversed.

Breastfeeding advocate Bridget Burke-Purdy now needs breast milk donations following a cancer diagnosis of her own. (CBC/Skype)

Burke-Purdy was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma two years to the day after dropping off a freezer of breast milk for Larson.

Since Burke-Purdy is also pregnant with her third child, Larson is sending a supply of breast milk she had frozen before to Belleville to help.

"We never would have imagined that we would completely switch positions," said Larson.

"There’s no connection like having given each other breast milk for our babies."


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