On a day that would normally be among the very happiest for any parents, Rachel and Sam Zanmiller got some shocking news.
After giving birth to their new baby boy Eli Joseph on March 26, Rachel was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a cancer of the bone marrow and blood.
Doctors initially thought her symptoms might be the result of HELLP syndrome, a disorder that causes high blood pressure (among other serious problems) during the later stages of pregnancy.
But as the Pioneer Press notes, Rachel — herself an ICU nurse — was in the hospital for observation and labor induction when she learned it might be something else. In fact, the paper says, her contractions had already started when a doctor walked into her room to inform her that the blood tests were pointing to AML.
Indeed, a bone marrow biopsy after the birth confirmed the cancer diagnosis.
"It was a shock, but Rachel and Sam were both beyond thankful to have given birth to another beautiful, healthy boy," the family's GoFundMe says.
Now, Rachel is undergoing "aggressive" chemotherapy treatments at the University of Minnesota for "at least a month long stay." She'll be out of work "for at least 6 months," while husband Sam will also be taking some time off work to take care of not just infant Eli, but also the couple's first son, a toddler named Zach.
The GoFundMe, set up by their family, is aimed at helping them with both medical and living expenses during Rachel's cancer fight.
It has already exceeded its $30,000 fundraising goal. As of this writing, over 400 donors have contributed more than $32,000.
According to updates from Sam, baby Eli has been "granted visitation" with Rachel and is able to see her for a few hours each day, "which has been nice and allows her to bond with Eli."
Another update says Rachel had some adverse side effects from the chemotherapy, including fevers which have since subsided. Doctors are working to determine if she'll need a bone marrow transplant; luckily, if she does need one, "they have a donor that has matched!"
"We are so grateful to all our friends and family who have continued to support us and to those who have graciously donated, thank you!" Sam's latest update, from April 8, says.