Meghan Koziel was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2015, when she was 26 years old. She underwent IVF for egg retrieval, 12 rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy with lymph node dissection, 30 rounds of radiation therapy, hormone treatments, and breast reconstruction.
Meghan now has three children, is a pediatric occupational therapist, accomplished blogger, social media advocate, and breast cancer survivor.
“I initially documented my journey through an online blog as a way to let family and friends know what was going on with my treatments during a time when having the words ‘I have cancer’ were too difficult to explain. I began describing the highs and lows of every step of my breast cancer journey, including sharing tricks, tips, and pictures, which captivated an audience much larger than my family circle. My story has been shared across the world and broadcasted through social media outlets because of my openness to show my scars and encourage other women to be comfortable within their own skin despite life's challenges.”
Bonsie is proud to share Meghan’s story with our readers and explore her unique experiences practicing skin-to-skin contact with her babies.
“Today, I am moving past my treatments for cancer and am ready to transition into bringing my mission to “Sparkle On” to life."
"Normally people come up with little slogans when they’re diagnosed, and I really wanted my slogan to not be personal to me, but for other girls to use it in my same situation. To “Sparkle On” means that even in your most challenging days, the days where you're bald, have dark circles, and skin hurts so badly you can hardly move, you will not feel pretty on the outside, but you will always have that inner sparkle inside your heart that makes you shine. I have started a cancer themed clothing line that encompasses just that. With a little bit of witty humor and, of course, sparkle... anyone can feel beautiful during a cancer journey.”
Many challenges are associated with breast cancer and pregnancy, but this didn’t stop Meghan from chasing her dream of becoming a mom.
“Being a breast cancer survivor mama is a unique experience. When you are faced with chemotherapy there are many risks— infertility being one of them. It took researching, talking to my doctors, and the encouragement of other breastie mamas to follow my heart and choose my journey into motherhood. A “breastie mama” in a way rolls the dice anytime she tries to get pregnant as she welcomes hormones (which many times feeds certain hormone positive breast cancers) into her body. But for me, I already let cancer take so much away from my life, I refused to let it take away my dreams of being a mom. We looked at all of our options and weighed the risks versus the current research, as well as the cost. We decided on trying natural conception prior to assisted pregnancy through IUI or IVF. Turns out, we got very blessed with three natural pregnancies and three beautiful miracle baby girls to finish our family!”
Meghan and her husband have three girls: Kendra, Kenzie, and Kendal.
“Our miracle babies are each so unique and different. Kendra Jane was named after my original oncologist (Jane Raymond) who ultimately chose my treatment plan and saved my life. Kendra just turned five and started preschool! She is smart, sassy, and the best big sister ever with a heart of gold!
“Kenzie Marie is our middle child, and truly lives up to that name! She has a speech delay and has been in speech therapy services, but makes strides every day to make her little voice known. She is our little spit fire. She’ll be the class clown and always does things to make people laugh! She’s a girly girl one second, running around in pink Minnie Mouse heels, then rolling around in mud and playing with her toy cars the next. She surely keeps us on our toes!
“And our newest addition, Kendal Nalie, who we named after my beautiful breastie Nalie Augustin who advocated and thrived for so many years making her stance known in the breast cancer community and across the world! Kendal was born four weeks early, but even as a baby has shown just how strong she can be without even needing an NICU stay! She is truly the “perfect baby”, she is so cuddly, sleeps at night, and rarely cries! We are so spoiled with this little bundle of joy!”
Due to Meghan’s double mastectomy and reconstruction breast surgery, her sensations and reaction to skin-to-skin contact is different.
“Skin-to-skin contact has always been hard for me with my girls because I am post mastectomy. The lack of feeling that I have on my chest creates changes, not only in feeling, but also temperature because my chest is always freezing cold. With my older girls, I rarely did skin-to-skin because for me it felt unnatural. Whether it was the uncomfortable feeling of the wiggling on my chest and my lack of sensation, making that motion feel weird, or simply me being cold due to circulation, skin-to-skin contact on my chest was always difficult!”
Fortunately, practicing skin-to-skin contact with her third baby was a little easier with Bonsie Skin to Skin Babywear. Reaching a new audience with particular needs, such as Meghan, and simplifying the essential practice of skin-to-skin contact is incredibly rewarding for our team at Bonsie.
“This time around, as soon as I saw Bonsies I knew they would be helpful for breastie mamas to not only participate in skin-to-skin contact, but to do it while being comfortable."
"Having the barrier of clothing on the arms and feet creates quicker access for contact, but also generates heat, which really helps me want to snuggle my baby. Practicing skin-to-skin using Bonsie helped promote calm for me and Kendal. Being a preemie, it also helped regulate her vitals. It even brought out her natural instincts to nuzzle, rubbing her face on my chest, then allowing an easy transition to her bottle. Kendal loves her Bonsie pieces and will forever be my little koala baby, as she has now grown to love the skin-to-skin position.”
Meghan conquered breast cancer while becoming the mother of three miracles. We are so inspired by her courage and advocacy for other breast cancer mothers.
“Ultimately, being a breastie mama has many challenges, but then again, it is also the ultimate miracle. No matter the journey a breastie mama must take to become a mama, it is beautiful, heroic, and simply special. We may have scars, but they do not take away from our beauty of experiencing life and the future ahead… actually, they remind us how beautiful life truly is! For me, my scars are simply my souvenir from the battle that tried to kill me... but I won and now I’m a mom.”
Follow along with Meghan’s courageous story on instagram @meghankoziel.