Whether to breastfeed or not is a personal choice–and a choice that moms do for however long they want–whether that’s a few weeks or several years. One mom wants to raise awareness about why she stopped breastfeeding.
29-year-old Natasha Fogarty, a new mom from St. Louis, Missouri, recently marked her last day of breastfeeding her 5-month-old son Milo. Initially, she wanted to breastfeed for an entire year, but sadly, her dream was cut short when she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
Recently, Fogarty shared her story on the Facebook page Breastfeeding Mama Talk, writing:
“My breastfeeding story stopped just Sunday. There are heavy tears in my eyes…I had to have a single mastectomy. I wanted and planned to breastfeed for a year. Unfortunately to save my life I had to stop.”
When Fogarty was pregnant, she remembers finding the lump on her right breast, but didn’t initially think anything of it, stating in Cosmopolitan:
“I actually felt a lump on the right side [when] I was like a month from delivering [Milo], and I just thought it was my milk coming in. My boobs were getting lumpy and different, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to worry about it.’ I had him, and then my boobs got really engorged, [and] I forgot about it, and I started being a mom and raising my son. But every time I would breastfeed him, that particular bump would never go away. I’d push it around, thinking it was a clog, and it didn’t [budge].”
After she started breastfeeding, she finally decided to go see her obstetrician who advised she have an ultrasound–which led to an array of tests. While at work on a Friday, she received the bad news:
“They were like, ‘You know, I hate to tell you this over the phone…It was shock and disbelief, and she starts saying all these other things, I felt like I didn’t even hear her, I couldn’t believe that was what it was.”
Naturally, Fogarty was absolutely devastated, saying she “cried a lot.” After the news, she scheduled a single mastectomy, and also saw a fertility specialist to discuss trying for another baby in five years. Through all this, however, Fogarty was mourning the fact that she’d have to stop breastfeeding Milo:
“I loved breastfeeding more than anything in the world. It was my favorite thing to do. I still get choked up about it—the fact that I had to stop was extremely hard. [Before my mastectomy, I thought,] I’m just going to cherish every single moment and just breastfeed.
Even during the hardest moments, it was just so special to just grab him and know that he could be comforted by me, and he just looked into my eyes, and there was such a connection of love. I wanted to go for a year, I never wanted to stop, so coming to terms with [stopping] was really hard.”
She then began thinking of ways to mark the end on a happy note. Apparently, the idea for a photo shoot came to her while she was showering one day. Later, she made a post about explaining what she wanted to do on Facebook–that’s when photographer Kari Dallas of Vintage Lens Photography said she would do it for free.
However, what really made the shoot even more moving was Fogarty’s recent hair change–she dyed it pink as a way to show solidarity:
“Pink has always been my favorite color. The moment that I found out that I had breast cancer, and I knew I’d lose my hair because of chemo, I said, ‘I’m going to do it!’ All my friends and family were like, ‘Of course you dyed your hair—we didn’t expect anything less.’ And I love it!”
Currently, she’s in her 24th week of chemo treatment. Fogarty, however, is keeping her spirits high; three of her friends have been donating breast milk for Milo, because he would not eat formula. What an amazing thing to do.
Don’t forget to check out these beautiful shots of Natasha Fogarty and her husband James and their baby Milo here.