When Sarah Murnane found out last week that her dear friend had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she wanted to do something — anything — to help her out. It wasn’t long before she had her answer.
Murnane, a photographer, mom of two, and breastfeeding advocate, is the founder of The Australian Breastfeeding Project, which showcases her gorgeous photographs of breastfeeding moms in an effort to “to erase the negative stigmas that surround breastfeeding,” according to her Facebook page.
Murnane tells Babble that one of the most heartbreaking aspects of her friend’s diagnosis was that she’d need to stop breastfeeding her 6-month-old son in order to begin treatments — and that’s when the two moms came up with a plan.
“A week-and-a-half ago, my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Murnane tells Babble. “As soon as she found out, she knew that meant she would have to stop breastfeeding. She messaged me to ask if I could help find donor milk.”
Soon after, Murnane put out a call for breast milk donations to the local moms on her Facebook page.
“It is with tears in my eyes that I put a call out to help one of my close friends find donor milk for her little boy as she has been diagnosed with breast cancer,” the post began. “The project will be donating a deep freezer which I am hoping we can fill with donor milk. Her son has no intolerances but would prefer smoke, alcohol, and medication free.”
The response was so huge that Murnane had to set up a separate Facebook group just to manage the influx of donations. Within 24 hours, Murnane had received an astronomical amount of milk donations — enough to fill a deep freezer, which was also generously donated to the mom.
“Our sisterhood of milky mummas!!!” Murnane wrote in a follow-up Facebook post the next day. “I am so extremely proud of our ABP tribe; not even 24 hours and I have received this in donations for my beautiful friend. Thank you, this project is so much more than beautiful photos.”
Murnane tells Babble that within four days of putting the call out, the moms had donated a whopping 45 liters of breast milk (that’s equivalent to almost 12 gallons!). And even more is on its way. Incredible, right? Murnane’s friend, whose name she has asked to withhold, is hoping to have a six-month supply of breast milk for her little guy. And if the momentum keeps going the way it has, it’s quite possible that she will.
As for how Murnane’s friend is doing now, Murnane shares with Babble that she is obviously having a tough time processing her diagnosis and mourning the loss of the breastfeeding relationship she envisioned with her baby, but that these milk donations are lifting her spirits.
“She has been so extremely grateful, [but] understandably devastated she can’t feed her youngest as she did with her older children,” Murnane shares with Babble. “She was relieved that she could give him the next best thing.”
While the journey ahead is definitely going to be difficult for Murnane’s friend, it sounds like she has a strong support system in place, and we hope she recovers quickly and as easily as possible.
Also, high-five to all those wonderful moms who went the extra mile for a mama in need — and did so with such speed, compassion, and generosity. You hear a lot about how much bullying and judgment goes on between moms online, but there is also a whole lot of good that can come of online communities like this one. And when it comes out to it, mothers are among the strongest, loving, most badass people in the world.