DESTIN —It was the day after Mother's Day last year when 37-year-old pregnant mamá Jennifer Escamilla received a diagnoses she was convinced would never come.

During intimate conversations with her husband over the years, Jennifer would express deep relief that she would never have to battle breast cancer. She had no family history of the disease and had three children prior to her 2018 pregnancy.

Breast cancer, she believed, wouldn't be part of her story.

While nursing her third child and pregnant with her fourth, however, Jennifer saw an indentation in her breast where her toddler's nose was nestling. She immediately called her doctor and got scheduled for a round of testing.

The doctors received her diagnosis May 11, 2018, but decided to hold the news back for three days so she could spend one last diagnosis-free Mother's Day with her girls.

The following Monday, however, they called her into the office.

"The doctor had tears in her eyes when she said, 'Jennifer, you have breast cancer,'" Jennifer said. "I didn't cry. I was pregnant. I had three other girls at home. She asked me why I wasn't crying and I said it was because I had to survive. I wanted to know what to do next."

The doctor explained Jennifer's breast cancer had metastasized into her lymph nodes. Her survival rate was set at 80%.

At 22 weeks pregnant, Jennifer began extensive chemotherapy. She would be required to stop chemotherapy approximately six weeks before and after her delivery.

The plan, according to doctors, was to deliver her baby early to be cared for in ICU so Jennifer can start chemo again, have surgery and begin radiation treatment.

Jennifer, though, had other plans.

"I wanted to breastfeed my baby," Jennifer said. "If the baby went into NICU then I would never get to breastfeed her. That couldn't happen. My doctor was mad. He was really mad. But I had my baby at 36 weeks and was able to nurse her for six weeks afterward."

Jennifer continued to pump and dump her milk in hopes to start breastfeeding again after radiation.

The difficult part of her diagnosis, Jennifer would soon learn, came after her pregnancy. The mother of four maintained a full-time job as a server for a local restaurant while still caring for her newborn and three young daughters. 

The effect radiation had on her body following the surgery to remove the tumor, however, was severe.

"I remember one time back in January I was laying on the living room floor trying to take care of my baby while I was throwing up into a bucket," Jennifer said. "I had to call my husband and tell him to come home because I couldn't even hold her. It was terrifying."

Just last week, Jennifer was hit with even more upsetting news. She and her husband always dreamed of having a large family. Six, or eight children.

The final part of her treatment plan, to her dismay, would send her into early menopause. Her dream of more biological children possessing her husband's dark skin and her long brown hair that fell off during her first chemotherapy treatment was gone.

That day, Jennifer cried.

"I'll have to do those shots every month for the next 10 years of my life," Jennifer said. "My doctor tried to prepare me for the fact that the shots would mean no more children. It would mean hot flashes. I would experience menopause early. It still wasn't easy and I have a hard time with it."

The day after the injection, Jennifer and her husband took their four children to a local park. There, she pushed one of her older daughters on the swing set. She watched as her chunky baby smiled and played in the evening sun.

Jennifer said she was grateful to spend another Mother's Day with her daughters. She was excited to wake up early, go to church and thank God for the life she's continuing to live.

She looked forward to her favorite Sunday pastime, spending the afternoon in her vegetable garden, teaching her girls about the environment and healthy living.

Jennifer, she said, was ready for just another simple, ordinary day of being "Mamá."

"I had always told my husband that if I did get any form of cancer, I would never do chemotherapy," Jennifer said. "Looking back now, it was probably God who made sure I was pregnant so I would have to do it.

"I'm just blessed to be alive."