Mom Breastfeeds After Chemo And A Mastectomy, Says She's Proud Of Her Scars

"This is what continues to remind me of how lucky I am to be here today."

For Bo Smith of Sugar Land, Texas, starting a family seemed like a distant fantasy after she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer in 2015. After all, doctors initially told her she only had a 40 percent chance of living for five years. Her fiancé, James Cofer, had proposed just one month before Smith's official diagnosis, but the couple's future was temporarily put on hold as she fought to beat the odds.

"When I was first diagnosed with what I thought was just invasive ductal carcinoma, I truly thought my life was over," Smith wrote on Love What Matters. "I even cried out to my doctor and fiancé, 'my life is over. I will never be a mother.'"

While the then 29-year-old had noticed a lump in her breast months prior, she convinced herself the mass was merely a cyst, as her family didn't have a history of breast cancer. However, as the lump started growing faster, eventually covering half her breast,  Smith decided to have it checked because she could no longer ride in a vehicle anymore without horrible pain. Throughout this experience, however, Smith worried about her chances of conceiving down the road.

"My chances of survival were low, and it was nothing more than a 'let's see if this works' with my treatments. Before chemo, my fertility was tested to see where it was at, and I was given a shot to try to trick my body into thinking my ovaries weren't active anymore, because chemo targets all active organs, in hopes to preserve my fertility because there was no time to harvest eggs," she wrote.

Smith underwent chemotherapy, and inevitably had a mastectomy on her left breast, which led to her remission. However, the treatments had inflicted so much damage, doctors said she might not be able to conceive naturally. While medical professionals suggested she pursue IVF, just two months after she was cleared to get pregnant, only three days before Christmas 2017, she discovered she was pregnant

"I woke up and took a test, expecting a negative. It was positive! I took about 50 more just to be sure," she told The Daily Mail.   

"It was the best gift I have ever received, and I don't think I stopped shaking for a few days!" Smith added.

Now, to celebrate both her son's birth and her own survival, Smith posted the now-viral image of her breastfeeding the young boy, scars and all.

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"Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you," she wrote on Facebook.

"I can't begin to explain how this feels everyday to be able to breastfeed my son, after losing one breast to cancer and being told I may not ever have this sweet boy in my arms," she added. "I am not ashamed of this body. This is what continues to remind me of how lucky I am to be here today."

While countless people have expressed their joy for Smith's good fortune — "You are living proof that you can get through a bad patch and come out the other side strong and beautiful" — Smith told The Daily Mail that she posted the image "to show that no matter what scars you hold, there are always ways to find a positive to them." 

"Yes, I lost my breast, but I still have my other one to feed my beautiful son," she added. "Scars are nothing more than a story of where you have been in your life, and you should be proud of them and yourself, for getting through whatever it was that got you them."

"I have watched so many amazing women of all ages, pass away from this horrendous disease, leaving behind families and small children. There have been moments when I experience survivors' guilt, but I also know I have been given a great gift, and I try to remember how lucky I am," she wrote. "When I posted that photo, I never expected it would ever go viral."

"I want women to realize that a diagnosis of breast cancer, even an extremely aggressive and rare form, doesn't always mean your life is over. It is just another chapter, a crappy chapter, but one that leaves us coming out stronger than before," Smith added. "Hope always. There are miracles. As I write this, I'm holding my miracle. And he's beautiful."

Cover image via  Romanova Anna / Shutterstock

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