One Nebraska woman recently gave another family the gift of a lifetime. Jaclyn Kenney, a nurse at Nebraska Medical Center, donated more than 1,000 oz. of breast milk to cancer patient Ashley Chesnut and her 5-month-old boy.
Chesnut, 30, had been recently diagnosed with lymphoma and was devastated that she had to stop breastfeeding her son, Easton. In fact, she first discovered her condition while breastfeeding, when she felt a sharp pain in her chest. “It was like hitting a freight train,” she told KMTV Omaha. “It was so sharp. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t talk.”
After a diagnoses of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Chesnut was told by her medical team that she would have to stop lactating in order to start treatment. “Breastfeeding to me is a privilege, because for one reason or another, not all women can do it,” Chesnut told People magazine. “I loved this special time with each of my kids, and I felt like it was being stolen away from me and there was nothing I could do to stop it.”
But one day, Kenney, a 23-year-old nurse at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, noticed Chesnut’s son at the hospital and asked about the baby. She heard Chesnut’s story and thought she would offer some milk, since she’d been overproducing. “I stopped in her room and asked if she would be interested in the breast milk, and she immediately broke into tears stating that I absolutely made her day after getting the news she could no longer breastfeed.”
Coincidentally, Kenney’s daughter, Halle, is just one day older than Chesnut’s son and both babies have an intolerance to dairy. So Kenney’s milk was perfect for Easton. The breast milk she donated—after milk testing and a health screening—will last the family about a month. And Kenney said she’s open to sharing more, according to Nebraska Medicine’s website.
Chesnut will be in treatment through April and has been told her prognosis is good.