Virginia, United States – A woman has adopted her best friend’s six children after she lost the battle against breast cancer.

Beth Laitkep was diagnosed in 2014 with triple negative breast cancer. At that moment she was pregnant with her youngest child, Ace. Ace was delivered by emergency C-section at 30 weeks so that Laitkep could begin chemotherapy treatments. She already had other five children, Will, 15; Selena, 14; Jaxon, 11; Dallas, 10 and Lily, 5. Last year, the chemotherapy appeared to be working, and Laitkep and her children moved from Texas to South Boston, Virginia. Sadly, a month after the move, Laitkep’s cancer came back and spread to her bones, brain, and spine.

Beth Laitkep with her children Selena, Will, Dallas, Ace, Jaxson and Lily. Credit: people

The doctor said that there was nothing that could be done.

That is when Stephanie Culley, Laitkep’s friend since high school, stepped into the picture. Laitkep confided her friend that the father of the first five children did not care about them and that Ace’s father left her when she was diagnosed with the disease.

Laitkep did not want her children separated to go to different foster home, and so, she asked her friend if she would raise them. Culley accepted. On May 19, Laitkep died aged 39.

Her friend kept her word, and her and her husband, Donnie, started the paperwork to adopt the six children. Culley already has three children of her own, Cole, 10, Hayden, 6, and Calen, 2. Culley has stated that all nine children became best friends during Laitkep’s battle.

“I want to thank every one of you that has shown your love and supported Beth and her family during this time […] from making monetary donations, all the meals and just being there when needed. It’s been unbelievable, the support in our community. As for the future, we’re going to take one day at a time, keeping her memory alive and making new ones together as a family” said Culley through the family GoFundMe page.

This Tuesday the Culleys gained full custody of Laitkep’s children.

Breast Cancer

Worldwide, breast cancer accounts for the leading type of cancer in women. In 2012 it resulted in 1.68 million cases and 522,000 deaths and was more than 100 times more common in women than in men.

Although the American Cancer Society states that there is “no sure way to prevent breast cancer,” annual mammograms are recommended.

Breast cancer symptoms include one breast becoming larger or lower, a nipple changing position or shape or becoming inverted, apparition of a lump on the breast, skin puckering or dimpling, a rash on or around a nipple, discharge from  the nipple, constant pain in part of the breast or armpit, and swelling beneath the armpit.

For women who have a greater risk of developing breast cancer (having a family history for example), there are some medical options available, including drugs to reduce risks, such as tamoxifen, raloxifene or aromatase inhibitors, and dietary supplements.

There’s also the possibility of a preventive surgery, which would need the woman to get tested for BRCA genes, if positive. A mastectomy may reduce the woman risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer by 90%, to a level that is approximately half the average woman’s risk.

Source: Washington Post