Woman Learns She’s Expecting 'Perfect' Rainbow Baby, Then Finds Out She Has Breast Cancer (Exclusive)

"We're not the type of people to just lay down and cry," Tiffany Gagliardi, whose son is due in July, tells PEOPLE

<p>Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi</p> Pregnancy announcement; Tiffany (Right) and Andrew Gagliardi

Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi

Pregnancy announcement; Tiffany (Right) and Andrew Gagliardi
  • Tiffany Gagliardi was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, a form of breast cancer, while pregnant.

  • She's expecting a "rainbow baby" with husband Andrew after two previous losses.

  • The couple say they see light ahead: "Let's buckle up and do what we have to do," she tells PEOPLE.

Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi's parenthood journey has had its fair share of heartbreak, but now the couple can see a light ahead, even as they face a new challenge.

After two devastating losses, the couple got pregnant again and are now preparing to welcome a healthy baby boy on July 21. However, the couple tells PEOPLE their happiness was tempered when Tiffany was diagnosed with breast cancer.

In late March, Tiffany, 30, was at work when her left breast began itching. She touched the itchy spot and felt a small lump about the size of a pencil eraser. She immediately messaged her obstetrician, whom she was already scheduled to see five days later. Tiffany thought it was probably just a clogged milk duct, but she also knew she had a family history of breast cancer.

An ultrasound, mammogram and two biopsies led to a diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma.

But despite her diagnosis, she and her husband are determined to stay positive.

"Everything we've been through brought us closer together rather than make us grow further apart," says Andrew Gagliardi, a 32-year-old cardiac cath lab nurse. "That's something that I'm grateful for every single day.”

<p>Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi</p> Andrew (Left) and Tiffany Gagliardi

Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi

Andrew (Left) and Tiffany Gagliardi

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The couple met in 2016, when the two registered nurses were working on the same unit.

“She's my world,” says Andrew, who proposed on Dec. 1, 2017. “I just knew she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

<p>Frank Vilsack Photo</p> Tiffany Gagliardi in 2018

Frank Vilsack Photo

Tiffany Gagliardi in 2018

The couple were planning on having a destination wedding in St. Lucia, but in July 2018, they were “thrilled” to learn they were pregnant. When they tied the knot months later, the pink hue inside their wedding cake revealed they were expecting a girl.

However, after their honeymoon in the Bahamas, a 20-week scan revealed their daughter had gastroschisis. Despite both being registered nurses, neither of them had heard of the condition.

The doctor explained that their daughter’s abdominal wall didn’t close the way it was supposed to, so her intestines were outside of her body, but said that it was treatable.

“They did tell us at that time, ‘This is the best birth defect that your baby could have,’ " Tiffany remembers. “The chances of survival and having no future problems were 98 percent. Even though we were terrified, it helped to hear that because we thought everything would be okay."

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After their daughter, Addison Grace, was born on March 30, 2019, she was rushed to the NICU.

“She had a bunch of tubes and wires, but she was perfect,” Tiffany says. “The most beautiful girl in the world."

But when Addison was just 8 days old, she got an infection and began having seizures. The new parents got to hold their daughter for the first time before she died in her father’s arms.

“We got a small glimpse of getting to be parents and a family,” Tiffany says. “We were like, ‘We want that.’ "

<p>Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi</p> Andrew (Left) and Tiffany Gagliardi

Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi

Andrew (Left) and Tiffany Gagliardi

In August 2019, the couple learned that they were pregnant once again with a boy, whom they decided to name Owen Reed.

Although the doctor told them everything should be okay, in an abundance of caution, they did an anatomy scan early at 14 weeks. That's when they learned their baby on the way faced a host of challenges, including cystic hygroma, a birth defect in his head, which was unrelated to the defect his sister had.

“They said he probably wouldn’t even make it out of the womb,” Tiffany says. The couple then made the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy.

“It was horrendous," she says. "After that, I feel like I just became a shell of myself."

Related: NICU Nurse Who Dreamt of Motherhood Adopts Patient Facing Medical Challenges: 'I’m So Lucky' (Exclusive)

They spoke with multiple doctors in search of answers. “I just wanted to know," Tiffany says. "No one could give us an answer. They just said it was bad luck."

But, she adds, "bad luck feels like losing $5 on the side of the road, not going through what we went through.”

The couple took the next four years to heal, adopting a 170-lb. English mastiff named Otis, traveling the world, and reconnecting. “We had never gotten the chance to be newlyweds,” Tiffany says.

<p>Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi</p> Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi's pregnancy announcement

Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi

Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi's pregnancy announcement

In October, they decided they were ready to try again and quickly got pregnant.

However, along with her excitement over the impending arrival of her son, the mom-to-be is also waiting to find out what's the next step in her cancer treatment.

<p>Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi</p> Andrew (Left) and Tiffany Gagliardi

Courtesy of Tiffany and Andrew Gagliardi

Andrew (Left) and Tiffany Gagliardi

Tiffany is currently waiting for her cancer markers to come back to determine if she will need to undergo chemotherapy that’s safe for the baby while pregnant, followed by a mastectomy shortly after his birth, or if she will have a unilateral mastectomy before the baby is born and another mastectomy after she delivers.

“We allowed ourselves to be mad and sad the first week. But now it's like, 'Okay, here we go again. Let's buckle up and do what we have to do,' " she says. "We're not the type of people to just lay down and cry ... We've been through harder battles.”

“Losing a child puts things into perspective,” Andrew adds. “You appreciate every day that you have here with the people you love.”

<p>Frank Vilsack Photo</p> Andrew and Tiffany Gagliardi on their wedding day

Frank Vilsack Photo

Andrew and Tiffany Gagliardi on their wedding day

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No matter what the future holds, Tiffany says she "cannot wait" for her son's arrival.

"We have so much love to give,” Tiffany says. "He looks so perfect, everything is just textbook."

Tiffany also says she is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from their family, community and even complete strangers after a GoFundMe was created to help cover her medical bills and quickly raised $55,000.

“People that I went to middle school with and my husband's field hockey coach — there's so many different people that came to rally and support us and it's just the best feeling,” she says. "It feels so much less lonely.”

Despite all the hardships, she adds, "We're both so lucky."

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