Halfway through her pregnancy Sarah Whitney was diagnosed with breast cancer. At just 31-years-old the news filled her family with grief, but still expecting a new member brought joy to them and their 2 children, 6-year-old Pheonix and 7-year-old Corah and so there was a constant mix of emotion in the Whitney home.
During pregnancy she underwent a mastectomy and a round of chemotherapy. At 36 weeks, Kal El was born and joined the close-knit family.
Though she knew she would not be able to do it for long because of needing another round of chemo, breastfeeding was extremely important to Sarah. She made sure to nurse every last second of the two weeks they were given. Like most new moms, photos were taken of Sarah feeding her new baby. One of which, taken by Katie Murray, a local photographer, captured every ounce of emotion in that family. Sarah shared it on Facebook. What she didn’t expect was for this photo to go viral and for well-wishes and support to pour in from around the world.
I know why those pictures mean so much to my family. I didn’t understand why they meant so much to other people. I guess it’s that universal understanding of what it’s like to do what’s best for your children, to be around for them.
Michael, Sarah’s husband and an airman at Eglin Air Force Base, was allowed to work out of their home for most of the summer to relieve the stress on the family.
Because they were forced into a limited time breastfeeding, Sarah and Michael felt the best thing they could do at that point was to seek out donor milk and have been able to continue feeding Kal El breast milk thanks to dozens of donor moms.
It is a beautiful gift Sarah gave her new child, if even for the few weeks she could. It is wonderful that she had support from those around her to make it happen. Support can make or break a breastfeeding relationship, even a short-term one.
Another photo was brought to our attention that just had to be added. The angle on this one, showing the mastectomy scarring, adds a powerful new level to the image and the story.