Nurses help new mom facing cancer fight with breast milk donation

Community North nurses Katie Hanover and Abby Black donated breast milk to Kata Carter and her daughter, Rosie.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Katie Hanover and Abby Black are nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit at Community North Hospital. They're also both new moms and jumped when given the chance to help another mom with a difficult diagnosis.

Thursday afternoon, the nurses met Kata Carter and her 10-month-old daughter Rosie. For Kata, it was especially emotional.

"I can't really describe what it means, they helped Rosie grow...and I'm just so thankful for their generosity," Kata said.

You see, when Rosie was just three months old, Kata was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. She had to stop breastfeeding, which was was very important to her. Her two other children were breastfed and as a dietician she said she sees the important nutritional value of breast milk.

"It was kind of giant shock to me and your mind is spinning with everything else," she said, "and on top of that, how am I going to feed my baby?"

Until Katie heard about Kata's need for donor milk through a lactation specialist both women knew.

Kata Carter and Rosie

Katie said, "I was making enough milk for twins after Maggie had delivered."

Plus, after her daughter Maggie was born premature, Katie initially received breast milk from Abby.

"So I jumped on it and dropped off I think 600 ounces the next day. It was a lot," Katie said. "I knew the need of wanting your child to have that breast milk nutrition."

Kata said she was stunned. "Just to have that amount of milk coming in was amazing. It was the first time I thought, 'Well, maybe she could be breastfed.'"

Abby and Katie are just two of the donors who have helped Kata, but the only ones she's met. It was something they were more than happy to do.

"It just goes to show it takes a village to raise a baby. It's the least we could do to help each other," Abby said.

Katie agreed. "It's a lot of work to raise a baby and whatever you can do to help each other, I think paying it forward no matter what it looks like is so important."

And that's something Kata said she too hopes to do.

She told Abby and Katie, "to be able to meet both of you in my greatest time and Rosie's, and to give her what she needs and take that off my plate was gratifying, so I'll be forever grateful."

Following her diagnosis, Kata has undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She will soon begin targeted therapy. She said given her response to the chemotherapy, doctors are hopeful about her prognosis.

On this day, she too is hopeful and grateful - for the kindness of strangers, with whom she now shares a special bond.