Breast Cancer Survivor Hangs 'No Breastfeeding Zone' Sign to Silence Shamers

Meghan Koziel breast cancer survivor no breastfeeding zone
meghankoziel/Instagram

No matter how much awareness we continue to spread around the idea that fed is best, moms who formula-feed continue to be at the center of criticism. Even when they're breast cancer survivors. A mother named Meghan Koziel, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 26 and survived, welcomed a baby girl last month. In the midst of that joy, Koziel felt it necessary to send a message to hospital staff and visitors with a beautiful, albeit unfortunately necessary sign that read "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."

  • Koziel took to Instagram to share this beautiful photo of herself with the sign, elaborating on its purpose.

    "Attention please, attention please," Koziel wrote. "We do indeed have a mommy-to-be who had breast cancer and a mastectomy which means, without boobs in the houseeeee! Got the banner raised just in case people are confused at why we are NOT going to be breastfeeding our little bundle of joy. Yes I have foobs, no I do not have boobs (or nipples) therefore... my body is incapable of breastfeeding:) -- sign was made by me!!!!!)" She then gave a shout-out to a friend who inspired the sign.

    The photo was also shared by Hello My Tribe, an account that shares stories of motherhood, and has wracked up more than 2K likes there. 

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  • Koziel shared the origin story of the sign with CafeMom.

    "I am very active on Instagram, and one of my followers who is a rather private person DM-ed me showing me a small sign that she used and explained how awful it was [during] her first pregnancy when she was continually bothered by physicians or staff not reading her chart," Koziel says. That's when she was inspired to create her own banner that would reflect her journey and personality.  

    "It took a while to come up with the perfect poem, but in the end I think the message came out strong but in a cute passive way," she says. "From the moment my husband hung the sign, everyone who came in read the sign, smiled, then continued on with my treatment! No more silly questions about breastfeeding! It was fabulous!"

  • She clarifies that the sign was, by no means, meant to be anti-breastfeeding.

    "I fully support the natural miracle that our bodies allow us to provide nourishment to our babies," Koziel tells CafeMom. "However for me, thinking about not being able to physically breastfeed is, in a way, heartbreaking. Every time my baby reflexively turns her head to my chest, opening and closing her mouth like a little bird wanting to breast feed, it breaks my heart a little. The sign was a way to not be reminded every single time a staff member entered the room and would ask me about breastfeeding that I physically am unable to perform this special act."

  • Koziel's original post on Instagram has garnered more than 6K likes since September 14. And people are heaping praise on the new mom.

  • Plenty of commenters agreed that it's a shame such a sign is required. 

  • Other survivors weighed in, sharing that they've experienced fears around the very same issue and were grateful to see this as a solution.

  • At the same time, some believed there's no reason Koziel should have to explain herself. 

  • Koziel agrees that she owes no one an explanation. But that wasn't really the point of the sign. 

    "I absolutely don’t have to explain myself," she notes. "However, my whole entire cancer journey, I’ve been open about the good and bad, the tough and shocking of cancer. Fertility and feeding my baby all are just an addendum to my journey. I love sharing, educating, and advocating, and the sign was sort of a way to protect myself and keep my mind in a positive place instead of focusing on what my body cannot do or provide. I am, however, able to provide my miracle baby with love, cuddles, and really expensive formula!"

  • Her words of wisdom for women who are both new moms and breast cancer survivors? "Don't let anyone tell you how to raise your child."

    "Motherly instincts kick in, and no matter what, as long as you have love in your heart and appropriate means to raise that child, all will work out just fine!" Koziel says. "I am also big into being open with my daughter when the time is right about my own cancer journey and will be sharing with her the things she will have to do for early detection and her potential risk of carrying my gene mutations. However, one thing she will never ever worry about is the love that me and her daddy and all our family and friends have in our hears for our little miracle."

  • The bottom line for this mama is that she's a survivor who deserves every second of joy she's experiencing with her baby girl. 

    Alongside this stunning shot shared soon after her little one's birth, Koziel wrote, "Cancer has changed my life forever ... but looking down at this sweet little girl makes all my fears of recurrence and having to go through active treatment again fade away!"

    Congratulations to the beautiful family! And props to Koziel for owning and celebrating her past, present, and future in a truly inspiring way.