Jill Nelson plays with one of her triplets
SAUGATUCK - Every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. It can strike at any age - but when it's a young mother, it makes battling the disease even more difficult. A Saugatuck mother was diagnosed with breast cancer after giving birth to triplets.
Ben, Andrew, Emily and Kate. That's just the start of what is a hectic day in the life of Jill Nelson.
With 11-month-old triplets and a three and a half-year-old, there can be some pretty trying times.
"We're up at 7:00am with bottles and cereal and they're back down at 9:30 for naps," says Jill Nelson. "This is a busy stage now that they are all moving, but it can get kind of crazy."
Because you no sooner get everyone fed, changed and contented and it's time to do it again.
Keeping up with four kids under the age of five would be challenging enough, but to undergo chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer at the same time takes a large amount of courage.
Jill's diagnosis caught her by surprise. She thought the lump in her breast was a complication from breast feeding, but when it didn't go away, she had a mammogram, which led to further testing. A biopsy that confirmed she had breast cancer - a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Within a month of the diagnosis she had a double masectomy and just when she recovered from surgery, she started her chemotherapy.
"There are days that when I'm feeling well that I can do it with just me and my husband, but with me being sick it just would be totally impossible," says Jill. "After the surgery I couldn't lift anything over five pounds, so that's another reason why it's impossible to do this without help because I couldn't lift any of the babies or hold them to feed them or do anything for about a month."
"I have some really down days where I basically can't do anything and the people that are here are standing in for me and doing what I can't do, which is holding babies, changing babies and doing all the things that they require."
So the Nelson's had to hire a full-time baby-sitter, along with Jill's sister who will stay through the remaining four months of Jill's chemotherapy treatments.
I think it will be a tough summer," says Jill, "but it's a life-saving summer."
And when she looks at her children, she says she knows she can find the strength to get through it.
A friend of Jill's entered her in a contest for mothers with breast cancer and Jill's story earned $1,500 worth of prizes for her and the triplets. The prizes arrived after her first day of chemotherapy.
For more information on breast cancer treatments, check out the Friends for Life Blog.