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Strangers step up to help 'heartbroken' mom with cancer who can't breastfeed

Lauren Miller finds comfort in knowing that her daughter 'is getting what I hoped to give her, but couldn't.'
/ Source: TODAY

When Lauren Miller was pregnant with her second child, she began experiencing excruciating hip pain. “I could hardly walk,” Miller told TODAY Parents. Her doctors chalked it up to pregnancy aches. As for Miller’s low platelet count, her Ob-Gyn was certain she was suffering from a condition called gestational thrombocytopenia. “They put me on a steroid and said my levels would go back to normal after I gave birth,” the Tucson, Arizona-based mom recalled. But that was not the case.

In December, just 20 days after welcoming her daughter, Scarlett, Miller was diagnosed with Philadelphia Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. “We had barely just left the hospital and I was back,” Miller told TODAY Parents. The 29-year-old started aggressive chemotherapy, which meant she could no longer breastfeed Scarlett. “I was heartbroken,” Miller revealed. “I remember sitting there sobbing. I loved nursing her."

Lauren Miller and her daughter Scarlett.
Lauren Miller and her daughter Scarlett.Courtesy of Lauren Miller

Though Miller would not be able to reach her goal of breastfeeding for a year, her sister, Brooke Hasselman, found a way to ensure that Scarlett would stay on breast milk. Without Miller knowing, Hasselman asked a local moms Facebook group for help.

Kayla Randall was one of the first to respond. “I volunteered to donate breast milk, but as I was pumping, it dawned on me that I could do even more,” she told TODAY Parents. So, Randall contacted Hasselman and offered to handle all the logistics such as pickups and storage. “Lauren’s family is dealing with enough,” Randall explained. “I wanted to take something off their plate.”

breast milk sisterhood
Kayla Randall with Lauren Miller and Scarlett. Courtesy of Kayla Randall

The donation train started in December. Randall, who is mom of 8-month-old son Cordell, meets milk donors in public places. She currently has about 30 regulars. “They will often give me a disclaimer like, ‘I’m taking this medication,’ or ‘just wanted you to know I’m drinking a cup of coffee a day,’” she told TODAY Parents. “There is a lot of trust involved, but so far, Scarlett has not had any bad reactions.”

At the moment, Miller is waiting on the results of a biopsy to find out if she is eligible for a bone marrow transplant. “My sister, Brooke, is my 100 percent match,” Miller told TODAY Parents. “I feel like the luckiest person in the world.”

Though “being sick sucks,” Miller can’t help but smile when Randall — who is now a close friend — stops by with her monthly delivery.

“It just shows you how moms take care of each other and how we come through for one another,” Miller said. “I have no words to describe what it means to me. They have brought me so much comfort. Scarlett is getting what I hoped to give her, but couldn’t.”