ORLANDO, FL (WCMH/NBC News) — In October of 2016, Maria Crider found a lump in her breast. The then 27-year-old tells NBC’s TODAY she thought it was a clogged milk duct because she was breastfeeding her 9-month-old son at the time.
When she went to the doctor to get it checked out, she was hit with a double surprise.
Number one: She was already pregnant again — 11 weeks along with her third boy.
Surprise two: She had stage III triple negative breast cancer.
“Two days after the biopsy, I got a call from the midwife to come in and discuss the findings,” Crider told TODAY. “At that point, I already knew. I felt it in my gut.”
Her doctors told her it was okay to start cancer treatment despite being pregnant. What came next was 16 chemotherapy treatments and 28 radiation sessions.
The entire time, her focus was on her growing son.
“I asked my nurses at every infusion, ‘Are you sure it’s safe? “I asked the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist and the tech, ‘Is everything OK? Does he look good?'” said Crider. “I could deal with the pain, nausea, exhaustion, and overall crummy feeling, but the anxiety for Logan’s well-being and my well-being and prognosis was the worst feeling.”
Then came the big day. She found professional birth photographer Bonnie Hussey who, after hering Crider’s story, came to do a session for free.
“One of the BEST decisions I’ve made. Those photos mean the world to me,” said Crider.
Her son, Logan, was then born. He was healthy.
“I cried so hard when he was born. Ugly tears, but I was relieved that he was perfect, just the way he was meant to be.”
Logan is now 7 months old and is already trying to keep up with his two bigger brothers. Crider is done with her chemo treatments and radiation, but she still faces a long road ahead.
“I have three kids; recovering from this surgery would be impossible without the support of my family and friends,” she said. “My advice for anyone going through this is build your support system: spouse, family, friends. I love my tribe!”