The day Brooke and Damon Taylor welcomed their greatest blessing into this world, Brooke’s doctor also delivered the news she’d been dreading.
“He said, 'Well, kiddo... It's cancer,'” Brooke said.
At 32 years old, Brooke was diagnosed with invasive, Stage 3 ductile breast cancer. The call from her oncologist came at 8 a.m. on July 22, followed quickly by a call from her OB.
“He said, 'Hey, wanna have a baby today,'” said Brooke, with a surprised look on her face.
By 2 p.m., Elsie James had arrived – a 6-pound, 2-ounce, healthy baby girl.
Brooke and Damon didn't know whether they were having a boy or a girl, so learning that Elsie was a girl was supposed to be the big surprise that day.
“The best part was learning, on that really scary day, that she was a girl,” Brooke said.
But the celebration of their firstborn child was clouded by questions of what the future might hold.
“You're holding a newborn, and you're just thinking, 'What are we going to do? How is this even going to work out? Am I gonna be holding her a year from now,'” said Brooke.
Brooke had seven days to recover from her C-section and learn how to be a mom, she said.
Then the real work began: fighting cancer with radiation and chemo. Brooke keeps the medical staff on their toes.
“Very early on, one of the nurses said, ‘It says in your chart you have a great sense of humor.’ I was like, ‘Oh, so we’re charting that now? Great. Good,’” Brooke laughed.
She spends a lot of the time on the road, driving from Gore to Tulsa for treatments and doctor appointments, all while trying to balance being a first-time mom.
“You want to soak up every tiny moment of cooing or the first time she rolls over, but I'm also in this weird buffering where I want it to go by faster because I want chemo to be done, But every chemo that goes by, she's a week older, which I can't have both,” said Brooke.
She noticed a lump in her breast in May and showed her doctor.
“We'll just watch and see. You're about to have a baby; everything's changing,” she said.
But by the time she hit 38 weeks pregnant, the lump had grown noticeably larger.
“It was very, very clear that something was not right,” Brooke said. “I actually took my shirt off in the appointment and said, 'You have to feel this,' and I saw the look on my physician's face, and I knew something was very not right.”
“We never wait and watch to see if something's going to grow or not,” she said. “You either sleep better at night or you make a plan to take care your own health and be your own advocate. There's no reason, zero reason, to wait and watch and see.”
And Brooke said owning her story and sharing it for the world to see already seems to be making a difference.
“Daily I receive a message from someone who's scheduled a mammogram, or they've had a conversation with their doctor, or they've decided to (get) genetic testing,” said Brooke.
Brooke doesn’t have a family history of breast cancer but learned she carries a breast cancer gene, known as BRCA 1.
Next year, Brooke will have a double mastectomy, radiation, and reconstruction.