Get Ready To Cry When You See These Photos Of A Mom With Breast Cancer Giving Birth

At first when you glance at the pictures of Maria Crider, 28, nursing her newborn, Logan, you think it’s pictures of a mom bonding with her son for the first time—images we’ve seen a lot on the internet (and Facebook). But then you take a second and third look, and you realize it’s much more than that. Here are 11 things to know about this brave woman’s incredible story.

  1. The photos speak a thousand words. In some pictures, Maria’s holding her son and you can see a large scar on her chest. It’s from a recent mastectomy. In another picture, she’s breastfeeding her son with her remaining breast, which doctors weren’t sure she would even be able to do for her son. In another picture, she’s wiping away tears while her tiny baby lies on her chest.
  2. Her overwhelming journey is so inspiring. Maria was breastfeeding her 2-year-old in October 2016 when she noticed a lump in her breast. Doctors said it was probably a clogged milk duct, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something else was going on. It turned out to be breast cancer.
  3. She was 11 weeks pregnant at the time! Although she was happy that she and her husband were expecting another child, she’d also received a terrifying diagnosis: she had Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Along with the excitement of a new baby, there was the scary and overwhelming situation of what was going to happen to her and if her baby would be okay. Geez!
  4. What kind of cancer is that? Triple Negative Breast Cancer is when cancer cells test negative for progesterone receptors, estrogen receptions, and HER2 (a protein that causes breast cancer cells to grow). This “triple negative” diagnosis means that the cancer growth doesn’t respond well to hormonal therapy and requires other treatments, such as chemotherapy. It accounts for 10 to 20 percent of breast cancers, which is more than one out of 10.
  5. This meant a difficult journey for Maria. During her pregnancy, Maria had to continue with her breast cancer treatment, which included multiple procedures and chemotherapy, right up until her son’s C-section birth! It was clearly a traumatic and confusing time. “I didn’t want to do treatment if it harmed the baby in any way, but I was also thinking ‘What would my baby and my kids do without me [if I died]?” she told (She has a third child, who’s five years old.)
  6. Her baby’s birth added the “sweet” to bittersweet. Doctors said she didn’t need to terminate the baby, but she would only have a 40 percent survival rate if she didn’t undergo chemotherapy. Thankfully, everything went well and when Logan was born, Maria entered a state of bliss. “I cried when I saw him,” she said. “In that moment all the bad went away, I forgot the cancer, I forgot about the chemo and all I saw was this perfect, healthy little boy and my husband – there holding my hand, with so much love.” *reaches for Kleenex.*
  7. More miracles were in store. Even though doctors said they weren’t sure if Maria would be able to breastfeed her baby with her remaining breast (the other was removed during a unilateral mastectomy), she managed to do it. However, she had to stop breastfeeding him shortly after the birth so that she could continue with her radiation treatments to kick the cancer’s butt!
  8. How these photos came about is so wonderful. The powerful and tear-jerking birth was photographed by Bonnie Hussey. She’s a birth and postpartum photographer who offers free sessions to several women every year. When she heard Maria’s touching story, she knew she wanted to photograph the birth. As she told, the photo shoot was one of the most incredible experiences to watch. We’re tearing up just looking at the pictures, so imagine being there? OMG.
  9. She wanted to share a story of hope. Maria said it was important for her to share her story with others. “I want it to give them reassurance that you can go through certain treatment while pregnant. Logan is proof, and he’s just one of hundreds of babies born after chemo.” You can even read her story on Bonnie’s blog, in which Bonnie says she doesn’t usually share information about her client’s births, but Maria told her “sharing brings awareness.” Right on.
  10. Chemo during pregnancy—is it really safe? It really depends. The American Cancer Society says that chemo is safe for the unborn baby if it’s administered in the second or third trimester, but it isn’t safe in the first trimester. Other treatments for breast cancer, such as radiation and hormone therapy, are not usually administered during pregnancy as they’re said to be more likely to harm the baby.
  11. She reminds us all to live in the moment. Maria has completed the 28 treatments for her cancer, and recently had a bone scan to tell if the cancer is still there. “We’re playing the waiting game now for the results,” she said. “All we can do is hope for the best. If this journey has taught me anything, it’s to cherish every moment you have with your family. So, that’s exactly what I’m doing.” Words we should all live by.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.