Joanne Carr, 37, breastfed her son, Dougie, since the day he was born without any problems, but after 14 months he started refusing to feed from her right side.
It prompted the mum-of-two to check her breast, where she found a pea-sized lump in her milk duct, which doctors later diagnosed as cancerous.
Joanne says she’d never have discovered the tumour if Dougie had not rejected her boob, which was likely a sign that something was blocking the duct or mis-shaping her breast.
Now cancer-free, Joanne, from Liverpool, has hailed her son as her “guardian angel” who saved her life.
“The doctor said it’s very strange what Dougie did,” she says.
“He must have known somehow. He was looking out for me.
“I know I wouldn’t have checked if it wasn’t for him.”
Joanne, a nurse, gave birth to Dougie, now 5, in April 2014 at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
Everything was normal up until June 2015, when aged 14 months, Dougie’s feeding habits suddenly changed and he stopped feeding from his mum’s right breast.
“He just wasn’t interested anymore,” Joanne explains.
“He fed on the other one fine. I thought I might have a blocked duct or something. It was very strange.”
Concerned, Joanne decided to check her breast for signs of any problems and found a small lump - immediately booking herself in to see the GP.
She was given antibiotics and told to come back if it didn't go away - on her return, she was referred to specialists at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.
“I was really worried by this point,” she says.
“My gut feeling was that something wasn’t right. I started to think the lump wasn’t normal.
Following scans and a cell biopsy, Joanne was told she had an aggressive form of breast cancer known as invasive ductal cancer.
It's a common type of breast cancer which spreads to the milk ducts - the 'pipes' which carry milk from the milk-producing lobules to the nipple.
Though doctors didn’t speculate on why it stopped Dougie feeding, Joanne says the 2cm lump was really close to her nipple, so she suspects Dougie felt it pressing against his mouth when he was feeding.
"I was diagnosed there and then," she continued.
"They took me into a room and told me I had cancer. They said it was aggressive but treatable.
Joanne had eight rounds of chemotherapy until March last year, and lost all of her hair.
But the lump shrank and surgeons removed residual cancer cells in March 2018.
Joanne was given the all-clear in April last year, and has been in remission for around a year.
Though she hasn’t been able to return to work yet as she still suffers with joint pains resulting from her chemo, Joanne is hoping to start university next year to retrain to specialise in chemotherapy.
“I still think about how lucky I am to this day,” she says.
“My attitude now is to just live life to the full. I owe my life to Dougie. He means the world to me.”