Meghan Koziel is a survivor who didn’t want to answer the same question over and over after giving birth to her beautiful baby girl.
No, she wasn’t going to be breastfeeding, thanks. She couldn’t even if she wanted to. She didn’t have breasts or nipples. And more importantly, she was okay with not breastfeeding; she was focused on the fact that she just had a gorgeous, healthy, miracle baby.
But she knew she’d get questions (and assumptions) from people in the hospital.
So she created a sign.
“NO BREASTFEEDING ZONE
Though breastfeeding is a very special task,
please be aware before you ask.
Our miracle baby will be formula fed,
and it will not affect her future ahead.
This mommy is a survivor.”
When it came time to deliver her baby, Koziel knew firsthand that not all medical professionals read their patient’s chart fully before asking questions. She was an occupational therapist and familiar with hospitals. She made the sign to preempt any concern or questions over the fact that she wasn’t breastfeeding, having got the idea to do so from a friend.
Breastfeeding is not an option for some women, whether it’s due to illness or disease, a lack of support at home, limited resources, personal issues, low milk supply, medications, or any number of other reasons.
The staff at the hospital responded positively to the sign, and it soon made its rounds on the internet after Koziel posted it to Instagram. It resonated with medical professionals, survivors, and moms alike.
Koziel also had some passionate advice for any survivor who wants to be a mom: “All survivors who are wanting to be moms, never ever give up hope! Doctors cannot guarantee fertility, but if you think about it… fertility isn’t guaranteed for anyone in life! Miracles happen, and whether you can conceive naturally, through IVF, or adoption… there is ALWAYS a way to become a mom! You just have to find the path and trust in it once it’s found.”
She immediately met with a fertility specialist and decided to freeze her eggs. She went through IVF and had 14 eggs harvested, 7 of which were frozen, and 7 of which were fertilized with her husband’s sperm; of the 7 embryos, 3 were viable.
Then, she was put into metabolic menopause temporarily via injections to shut down her ovaries; she took a hormone inhibitor to prevent her body from making estrogen and progesterone, since her cancer was fueled by those hormones; and she had a copper IUD placed as well.
In essence, she put her fertility into hibernation until she had kicked the cancer and her body could healthily carry a child.
From there, life became crammed with surgeries and treatments. In addition to her fertility-saving treatment, she had 12 rounds of chemo (it would have been 16 rounds if she hadn’t been allergic to it), a double mastectomy, lymph node removal, breast reconstruction, 30 rounds of radiation, and then another breast reconstruction due to complications.
“But,” she wrote on her blog She Sparkles On, “that long list doesn’t even touch on the countless pricks and blood tests, port surgeries, heart tests, hormone medications, medications that counter react the symptoms from those medications, hot flashes, anxiety attacks, the tears about losing my hair, the weight loss, the weight gain, the unknown permanent loss of natural fertility, the scars, the pain, my families exhaustion, fears, and pain. This is breast cancer! So yes, I get it people— BREAST CANCER F****** SUCKS!”
Cancer sucks, but it also made Koziel appreciate life more than ever. Not only did she kick cancer’s butt and cherish living even more, she began blogging about her cancer and inspiring other women.
Almost two years after her diagnosis, she stopped taking her hormone blockers to start a short “cleanse period“. Her oncologist told her and her husband that there was no increase in cancer recurrence risk if she paused hormone therapy in order to get pregnant.
Which she did! She even got to surprise her husband with the news.
“Cancer has changed my life forever,” she wrote in an Instagram post, “but looking down at this sweet little girl makes all my fears of recurrence and having to go through active treatment again fade away! I am so so so blessed and will forever Sparkle On*.”
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.