In 2018, Amanda Elliot and her husband, Scott, had been married for less than two years when they found out Amanda was pregnant with their baby daughter, Evlyn . Just one month after finding out Amanda was pregnant, Scott was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma. As one could imagine, being pregnant while one’s partner has cancer, is tough in itself. However, just a few months into Scott’s treatment, Amanda felt a lump on her breast which she noticed was growing significantly in a short period.
“When I initially felt it, the Lord told me that when everything was said and done, my little girl and I would be okay,” said Amanda.
In the early stages, Elliot’s OBGYN at the time had dismissed her concerns, likening them to symptoms of pregnancy. Amanda said she knew she needed to keep looking for answers when her OBGYN at one point told her there was nothing diagnostically that could be done due to Amanda’s pregnancy.
Amanda used to work in journalism and had worked on several stories for breast cancer awareness.
“For two days I could not quit seeing the face of a woman I had written a story about, When I interviewed her, she had stage 4 cancer,” said Amanda.
The woman’s doctors had told Amanda that she might make it to see the article published, but that it would be a miracle if she made it to Christmas.
“She lived for seven more years before she died,” added Amanda.
The survivor inspired Amanda to not stop looking for answers.
“I was educated and I knew that you can give a pregnant woman a mammogram and an ultrasound. There’s always something that can be done to get some answers,” she said.
Amanda said that once she switched to UAMS, the puzzle pieces began to fall into place.
Amanda said her treatment was a delicate balancing act and her doctors felt like the best case scenario for her daughter and herself was for Amanda to begin chemo treatment immediately. When she went to the doctor, by the end of the day, they had a port in her arm and she was starting chemo because the lump was growing so fast. Amanda had triple-negative breast cancer, a more aggressive form of the disease that spreads faster and has a higher rate of recurrence.
Just before Christmas, Scott had a scan that revealed all the masses of the cancer were gone. He was cancer free.
Amanda said that from Scott’s story, her son was able to see that people do not always die from cancer. She knew she was going to go bald and she knew her son, Wilder, would see it. She was also still finding out what her treatment would be like, given the complexities of her situation.
Shortly after, as Amanda inched closer and closer to the birth of her daughter, she had to stop receiving scans and chemo until her daughter was born.
The time frame ended up being nine weeks between she stopped chemo and when she was able to start again.
On March 22, 2019, Amanda gave birth to her daughter, Evlyn, a perfectly healthy baby weighing more than eight pounds.
“She came out absolutely perfect,” said Amanda.
Now, Amanda was on to the final stretch. After giving birth, Amanda was able to receive scans and chemo treatment again. However, when her body was scanned, the tumor was smaller than it was at the time she started chemo.
“They scanned my body and my doctor told me on Good Friday (2019) there was no evidence of cancer in my body outside of the original tumor in my breast, which was extremely small at that point,” she said.
Amanda would go on to have a bilateral mastectomy to remove the tumor with reconstruction, the surgery was a success.
“When you go through something really challenging, you feel like it just happened but you also feel like it was 100 years ago,” said Amanda.
Unfortunately, soon after Amanda’s battle ended, her mother’s began. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2020. Amanda knew what her mom was about to go through.
“When she was diagnosed, I had already seen my husband go through it which was so awful and hard. I also knew how hard it was for me to go through it,” said Amanda.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, her mom had to go through the treatments all by herself, but she kept fighting and is also now cancer free.
Amanda said she didn’t feel like she went through this for her just to keep it to herself.
“It’s funny because I don’t think of myself as a breast cancer survivor, and I’ve never really done a lot of advocating or anything like that but I feel like the Lord calls everybody to do different things,” she said.
“But I know he has called me to share my individual story and to encourage people there are not any circumstances beyond God’s control or what he can help you navigate,” said Amanda.
Her daughter, Evlyn, is now 3 years old.
“We tell her all the time you are a miracle. She is our miracle baby,” said Amanda.
Amanda wants to encourage women or anybody who has cancer to never stop fighting.
“Cancer is not a death sentence and I trusted that the Lord was either going to fix it or bring people that could so we prayed. We would pray over the chemo bags to help our bodies. There were times I was so physically depleted I would just listen to Bible verses. I would hit play and just listen to it. It was extremely hard but it was one of those things that I knew would have a purpose and that god was allowing me to reach people,” said Amanda.