It was one of the happiest times in Amee and David Stein's lives. They had a beautiful baby, Madeline, who was about to turn one, and Amee was five months pregnant with their second child.
The concerns began in October 2010, when Amee, now 38, found a lump in her left breast on three separate occasions, but all had proved harmless. When she found a lump in her right breast just days before Christmas, she had every reason to believe the diagnosis would be similarly benign.
She recalls, "I was pulling into a Mommy and Me class with Madeline when I got the call from my doctor and heard those words: I am very sorry, but you have breast cancer."
Although Amee had hoped to wait until her second child was born to begin treatment, her oncologist told her that, given the aggressive nature of her cancer, she needed to act immediately. At 22 weeks pregnant, she had a mastectomy and began a course of chemotherapy. Her doctor assured her that the chemo wouldn't affect her baby. "But they tell you not to drink wine, so we were still very concerned."
When Olivia was born in April 2001, Amee and David were ecstatic. "Hearing the baby's heartbeat was like hearing music for the first time," says Amee. "Simply indescribably beautiful. And she had a full head of hair, even though I had none."
Today, Amee is in remission, and she shares her story with others in hopes of empowering them. "As cancer survivors, we now travel on journeys filled with the fear of the unknown. What it doesn't have to be is a life lived in fear. We must be educated on our options and guided by that knowledge."