Mom with breast cancer breastfeeds her son for the last time before she has a mastectomy
A special bond forms between a mother and her baby when she breastfeeds.
So imagine this Missouri mother's dismay when she found out, four months after giving birth, that she had breast cancer and she would never be able to breastfeed her newborn again after her mastectomy.
So Natasha Fogarty from St. Louis decided to capture their final breastfeeding session in a photo shoot, and it's since gone viral.
Just a day before she was scheduled to go into surgery for a mastectomy, Fogarty wrote a plea on Facebook asking if any photographer friends had the time to snap the special moment, she told InsideEdition.com.
Her friend Kari Dallas, who had a 2-month-old baby of her own, reached out and offered her services for free, "from one breastfeeding mama to another," Fogarty said.
The beautiful shoot, which has since gone viral, was Fogarty's reminder to the world to "cherish those moments with your baby."
Speaking to InsideEdition.com, Fogarty explained that mealtime was by far the favorite time of day for both her and her son Milo.
"It's a love connection than you get to have with your child," the 29-year-old said. "As soon as he would latch, I would sing to him and talk to him, and he was all smiles."
Fogarty said she felt a lump on her breast a month before she gave birth but dismissed it, and assumed for the following months that it was her milk glands developing.
Finally, she visited her OB-GYN who ran multiple tests and determined that she had stage 2 breast cancer.
"I was in complete shock," she said. "The first thing running through my mind was this doesn't happen to people my age."
She continued to breastfeed, but she knew those special moments with her son were limited. She was scheduled for a single mastectomy within weeks of being diagnosed, and the pain medication and chemotherapy that would follow would mark the end of her breastfeeding days.
After her photo shoot, she told InsideEdition.com the community was more than happy to help. Moms all over have began reaching out to her, offering her baby their own frozen breast milk they no longer needed—a necessary contribution to their family since baby Milo refuses to drink formula.
"He would cry and spit it out," she said, "[but] when a friend reached out, I just started crying. I was in tears, I was so happy."
Even though feeding time between Fogarty and her son has changed since her procedure, she said they are slowly adapting to their new routine, even as she prepares to start chemotherapy once she heals from the mastectomy.
She even dyed her hair bright pink, a testament to the steadfast strength she will have in her upcoming fight against breast cancer.
"Soon it'll be a memory, and I'll be able to look back and I'll be a stronger and better woman," Fogarty said.