Natasha Fogarty was in utter shock when, just four months after giving birth to her son Milo, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. But when the shock subsided and reality set in, she was left grappling with the inevitable loss of her favorite mother-son activity: breast-feeding.
Though Fogarty was able to continue breast-feeding after her diagnosis, she knew her upcoming mastectomy would mark the end of those moments with her now-5-month-old. Her single mastectomy was scheduled for June 27, so on Sunday, June 26, Fogarty arranged a photo shoot to capture the last time she would be able to breast-feed.
The idea, she told ABC News, came to her in the shower. She quickly posted to Facebook, explaining her situation and calling for any photographers willing to do a last minute shoot. Luckily, a friend from high school replied and, moved by Fogarty’s idea, offered to do it for free.
The photos, like those moments with her son, will be cherished forever, Fogarty said. “I wanted to do [the photo shoot] for him and for me,” she explained. “We loved breast-feeding and it’s been hard for both of us to not have those moments together anymore.”
Fogarty posted the photos in the Facebook group Breastfeeding Mama Talk, with a touching message to fellow mothers. “I wanted and planned to breastfeed for a year,” she wrote. “Unfortunately to save my life I had to stop. I want any other mom out there going through this to stay strong and positive.” The post has received more than 5,000 likes.
Fogarty said she posted in the Facebook group to support other mothers with similar experiences and to remind healthy mothers how fortunate they are. “We all have our bad days in breast-feeding,” she said. “And I just wanted to inspire those women so they realize that they are lucky to be able to breast-feed every day.”
The outpouring of love and support for Fogarty has come in many forms; one that she is especially appreciative of is the donation of breast milk. Milo would not take formula, she explained, which caused her a lot of stress initially. Fortunately, friends offered to contribute some of their own breast milk.
And she didn’t stop at the photos. Fogary also decided upon realizing she would eventually lose her hair to chop off over 10 inches and dye what was left a bright shade of pink. Pink has always been her favorite color, she said, but now it has even more meaning as the universal color for breast cancer awareness.
“It feels so great to look in the mirror and say, ‘This is me. This is me being strong and this is me destroying this cancer,’” she said.