Breast Cancer May Have Taken Her Ability to Breastfeed, But it Didn't Steal These Memories

This mom found a beautiful way to commemorate her days of breastfeeding.

Natasha Fogarty of St. Louis, Missouri, recently breastfed her 5-month-old son, Milo, for the last time. But it wasn't because he's weaning or because she's tired of it. In fact, Fogarty loved breastfeeding, calling it 'magical' and likening the act to 'a love connection.'

Sadly, Fogarty's breastfeeding journey has come to an end because, at just 29 years old, she was recently diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, needing chemotherapy and a mastectomy to treat it. "My initial reaction was, 'How am I going to take care of him and how am I going to nourish him?'" she told TODAY. "My first thought was not about me, it was about him."

Fogarty is also mourning the feeling she got every time she breastfed little Milo. "You can look down, he looks up at you and you get to stare into each other's eyes," she revealed. "It's like the world just stops around you and it's your time together."

Since she loved breastfeeding so much, Fogarty didn't want to let it go without a bit of celebration. So, right before she went under the knife for her mastectomy, she had an idea: "I looked down and I was like, this breast that has nourished my son for these almost-five months is going to be gone," she opened up. "I thought, 'What better way to remember this moment than to capture it with somebody taking pictures of us doing what we love to do?'"

Fogarty enlisted Kari Dallas of Vintage Lens Photography, a photographer who also happens to be a high school friend, who opted to do the shoot for free. The photos were taken on the eve of Fogarty's mastectomy and showcase the mother feeding her son in a stunning series. "It's the end of one chapter in our lives, the end of me nourishing him," Fogarty said. "And it's our new fight, beating this cancer and us being a strong family together."

The photos have been making waves on social media and the reaction has been beautiful. "There's been no negativity, which is amazing because breastfeeding photos tend to have a lot of negativity," Fogarty said. "I've been really lucky. People realize this is a beautiful thing." And people aren't just donating well wishes—some of Fogarty's friends have pledged to donate breast milk to Milo as well. 

Even though life handed her the ultimate curve ball, Fogarty has her mind set on focusing on the positive. She's hoping her photos will inspire other moms going through cancer. "We can be a support system for each other and see that even in this dark time, that we can find joy in the small things and the photo shoot was our joy," she said. "I see happiness [in the photos]...I see a family that is strong."