Singer Alexis Slifer Butcher Opens Up About Welcoming 'Sweet' Baby Girl amid Breast Cancer Battle

"We keep calling it a year of whiplash because it's been such a roller coaster," Grammy-nominated Christian singer Alexis Slifer Butcher tells PEOPLE

Alexis Slifer Butcher
Photo: Courtesy Alexis Slifer Butcher

The pandemic hit Alexis Slifer Butcher hard.

A Nashville-based singer/songwriter, she found herself living the life of many, as she and her husband of four years, Carson, spent the majority of 2020 cutting corners to save money. But on a special night in October, the two decided to splurge.

"I remember coming home from work and my husband had bought me this pink dress, and it was laying out on the bed," Slifer Butcher, 28, recalls in a recent interview with PEOPLE. "He told me that he had made a reservation for dinner for my birthday. We went to The Standard in downtown Nashville, and it was just the most perfect night."

Just a month later, she would find out she was pregnant with their first baby. And a few months after that, she would find out she had breast cancer.

"We keep calling it a year of whiplash because it's been such a roller coaster," explains the Ohio native, who is currently battling ductile invasive carcinoma. "From Grammy nominations and this incredible ASCAP award to a diagnosis of cancer to having my first baby. It's been a wild year."

Indeed, on top of the emotional rollercoaster she finds herself personally living, she also finds herself on quite the professional journey: The Grammy and Dove Award–nominated song "Famous For (I Believe)" that she co-wrote alongside Roland Charles Butler, Douglas Jordan Sapp and Christian artist Tauren Wells recently was named the ASCAP Christian song of the year .

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"I really thought the life of the song was over a long time ago," says Slifer Butcher of the song that was originally written over six years ago. "It was left on a shelf for a while, and when that happens to something of yours that you believe in, it's not very easy. I so wanted the song to be out for the world for others to be encouraged by."

And now it is. But it's also become a song that has served as an encouragement to Slifer Butcher herself as she continues with a slew of cancer treatments.

"When you're pregnant, your body is just always changing, so we didn't specifically realize that the lump was an issue or something problematic until my second trimester," she remembers. "I called my OB/GYN and she had me immediately rush over because it had grown. I mean, it was the size of an egg, and it was hard and painful."

They soon knew this was not pregnancy related.

"We had a biopsy done and within three days, we knew that it was breast cancer," Slifer Butcher says. "I remember that it was all very bizarre, because before the doctor even called with the results, I already felt like I knew. I believe that the Lord really prepared me for that news, because I just sat on the side of the bed and just took in the moment and just how my life had just changed."

That night, she and her husband mourned what seemed the most dire of circumstances. But while doing so, they also celebrated the strong foundation that their marriage was resting upon. And, yes, there was a baby coming too.

"In that moment, we had no answers when it came to the breast cancer," she says. "All we knew was, yes, it was breast cancer. It was a really painful but beautiful night."

Alexis Slifer Butcher
Courtesy Alexis Slifer Butcher

And while songwriting had long served as a therapy of sorts for Slifer Butcher, the diagnosis of cancer left her depleted of ways in which to write. She explains, "My heart was so broken. I didn't have the capacity to write at all. I would sit and just play music, but I couldn't find the words. I was just felt empty."

Despite her lack of songwriting inspiration, Slifer Butcher soon found a renewed sense of hope when she gave birth to a healthy baby daughter named Lila on Saturday, May 22. Lila was born by emergency cesarean section two months before her due date while Slifer Butcher herself was undergoing chemo treatments for her cancer.

"She is just the best baby," the new mother shares. "She really doesn't even cry. She's just the best, sweet little thing."

Alexis Slifer Butcher
Courtesy Alexis Slifer Butcher

Currently, Slifer Butcher finds herself just a couple of weeks from her final chemo treatment. The tumor that she once could feel is "not there anymore," and there is no sign that the cancer has spread. But as any cancer patient knows, it hasn't been easy.

"I've had two different types of chemotherapy, and the first one literally made me feel like I was dying," says Slifer Butcher, who will undergo a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery around Thanksgiving time to remove all tumors and possibility of future growth, followed by a course of immunotherapy for the next year or so.

"It felt like my whole body was disintegrating, but the second round does not feel that way," she adds. "It's got some uncomfortable symptoms, but in the grand scheme of things, I can take care of my daughter every day by myself. So we're really thankful for where we are right now."

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