For mums, breastfeeding is a special, intimate experience that we share with our babies. This chapter of motherhood comes to a close far too swiftly, as our infants begin to wean. It’s even more painful when this cherished time is abruptly cut short by an illness such as cancer.
While breastfeeding her baby boy, Ashley Kostiuk found a lump in her breast. The alarmed mum was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in June 2016, and told she needed to undergo chemotherapy. This was doubly devastating for the new mum — it meant she would have to give up nursing her 9-month-old son.
On the morning prior to starting chemotherapy, Ashley sat rocking her son close, breastfeeding him for the last time. Her close friend, photographer Jaclyn Briggs, was on hand to capture these precious moments of maternal connection soon to be lost forever. The resulting photos were poignant and unbearably tender.
Reaching for his mum’s face and innocently peeking about, her little son was blissfully unaware of the morning’s tragic circumstances.
Her daughter Greta, too, was part of these solemn family moments, sweetly helping to comfort her mama.
Good news: currently, Ashley is cancer-free! According to the GoFundMe page set up by her aunt Patti Amstrup, Ashley has finished chemotherapy and had a double masectomy. This brave mama can look forward to many more years of caring for her children and watching them grow up.
She still has a long journey to walk, however. On her Team Ashley Facebook page, Ashley posted about her recent post-op meeting with her General Surgeon, revealing that she still needs to go for radiation to combat the last of the tumour.
She heartrendingly confessed,”I had a breakdown over my whole journey. I hated my port, I hated chemo, I hate…HATE not having my own boobs. Ok where was this all coming from? It was my selfish moment. I felt like a ship stuck in the gale warning on Lake Superior. The emotional waves not ceasing.”
But, she added, the joys of her life as a mum make things seem better. “Now that I’m home, baking banana bread and watching Sophia the First – I feel so good.”