Breastfeeding and Cancer

Last week was international breastfeeding week. Those of you that know me understand that I am an adamant supporter for breastfeeding. We have too little knowledge, support and care towards those that want to breastfeed while simultaneously having people shame those who can’t. I believe in informed decisions and recognize that sometimes the ability to breastfeed is out of the control of the momma.

Between both my kiddos I breastfed for nearly 6 years. Yes when you do the math that means they were each nourished for almost 3 years. I wouldn’t change a thing. I do want to discuss how weaning my son to start chemo went. What we did, and how things are now.

December 29, 2019

Tomorrow we are celebrating. I am celebrating with my family nearly 6 years of nourishing my babies, providing comfort for their hurts through this close
connection that only we share. I made these small miracles, these tiny people that are so full of life and energy. 

I am angry. Inexplicably angry that I don’t get to choose the end point. That it is effectively chosen for me. This. THIS is what enrages me most. And yet, rage nor anger are the right descriptors. It’s devastation:

severe or overwhelming shock or grief

Today we had a party for D.

We’ve talked this weekend about what is going on. That mommy has owies that are making her sick, and the doctor is going to give me medicine that will make me better in time, but my hair will fall out. Part of getting better is getting outside owies, and the owies will make the mommy milk go away. D talks about how ‘this side not have owies, still has mommy milk. But soon has owies, then no mommy milk’; and my heart shatters into a million tiny pieces for me to scrape together and try and reassemble.

The MRI discovered additional suspicious areas on the left side. These weren’t even seen on the previous mammogram. The Breast Health Centre wants to biopsy – lucky me gets to go New Year’s Day. Which means that this is the best time to stop nursing during this process. Even though we could continue until January 7 when chemo starts; visible owies will make the most sense to my sweet little boy. So here I am. Angry. Devastated. Heartbroken. 

To sit and wallow in grief isn’t in my MO, so instead we are taking control how we can – we are cutting my hair. All of us as a family, and we are able to at home because of a friend and neighbor. We are taking photos thanks to a dear friend, of not only chopping my hair into a fresh look, but also to take photos of my sweet baby having one of his last nursing sessions. Because fuck cancer and you taking away my joy. I will find my joy and strength in the things I can control. I will find new ways to connect with my sweet angel in the face of distress, hurt, and emotional turmoil.

The Reaction

D struggled. Hard. For a very long time. He would ask to nurse and then be very upset that we couldn’t. We cuddled lots. I validated his feelings. I told him I was sad too. I still am very sad. He asked me to nurse more than 100 times the month after we stopped. It started to slowly dwindle after that. We found new ways to connect – he loves to pick the mole on my arm, which I don’t love but it brings him comfort.

For those mommas making the impossible decisions. You’ve got this.

I promise I will ferociously show up for my kids regardless of what else gets thrown my way. The strongest bows bend and don’t break. It’s the way of a mother; to be both fierce and soft, strong yet gentle, firm yet supple and understanding.  

2 thoughts on “Breastfeeding and Cancer

  1. What a terribly hard process to go through;( your momma skills are clearly in tune to your babies needs. Hugs to you all 💓


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