-- When Shakti Dalal had her third child, a daughter named Layla, she was surprised that the newborn girl only seemed to nurse on one side.
"She would nurse and on the other side she would get fussy and wouldn't nurse on that side," Dalal recounted to ABC News. "We kind of made a joke about it, why she was being preferential to one side over the other."
Dalal said she didn't think to be concerned until she found a lump in her underarm at the same time, it was on the same side as where her daughter refused to nurse. While her doctor told her it could just be a clogged milk duct due to her lactating, she was scheduled for a follow-up MRI.
"I went and got it checked out. One check-up turned into a cancer diagnosis," Dalal recounted.
Dalal, who is now in remission, said she wanted to speak out about her own diagnosis to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month. "I wanted to find a way to help people," she said.
At just 39 with no family history of cancer, Dalal said she was in shock when she was first diagnosed.
"We don’t have cancer in my family. I’m very, very healthy," Dalal said. "You question if they got the results mixed up. ... I feel too good to feel like I’m going to die."
Dalal immediately started therapy for Stage 3 breast cancer, including two bouts of intense chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. She had to stop nursing Layla immediately in part to ensure they could properly scan her chest.
"The most favorite things about being a new mother is nursing. I nursed both my boys for over a year," Dalal said. "I had to suck it up and look at the glass half full. I’m going to get this treatment and still be here for her."
Dalal's doctors said that Layla was likely the first person to detect something was wrong because the cancer had already affected how the milk was being produced.
"They influence mammary cells and make the taste not good or sour," Dalal said.
After months of grueling treatment, including a mastectomy and reconstruction, Dalal was declared to be in remission. Now, two-and-a-half years after finishing her treatment, she said she wants to share her story with other women who may feel alone or unsupported as they fight cancer.