As I look back on Megan’s Journey, it’s hard for me to believe that today was my third Father’s Day we have celebrated with Megan fighting cancer. Father’s Day has always been a special day to me, because although I don’t have any boys, I’ve always felt there was a special bond between a daddy and his daughter(s). I can remember when both of the girls were young, and numerous people would ask me if Deb and I were going to have a third child to try for a boy. Without hesitation, my answer was always consistent…I was perfectly content with my two beautiful girls. To this day, I have absolutely no regrets as I cannot imagine being any more blessed than I have been with Kenzi and Megan.
Although I have always treasured Father’s Day, the last three of them have taken on added significance to me as I have watched Megan fight this brutal disease. This journey has taught me to live in the moment and treasure not just each day, but each and every minute I have with my girls. Cancer teaches you to never take anything for granted, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Each hug is a just a little more special. Each “I love you dad” is just a little more special. Each kiss goodnight is just a little more special, and each Father’s Day gift is just a little more special. Although the last three years have been brutally tough, it’s days like today that are a not so gentle reminder of how lucky I really am. Having Kenzi and Megan call me dad will never, ever get old.
Megan had a very big week as she started out Monday with her usual chemo treatment. Since this was the second week of her three week treatment cycle, her visit on Monday was out-patient. She and Deb left for the CDH clinic at about 8:15 a.m. for their 9:30 a.m. appointment. So far, Megan’s blood counts have always been just hanging in there to the point that she didn’t need a transfusion, but her luck ran out on Monday. Her hemoglobin count dropped to 8.4, and since she had surgery scheduled for Tuesday morning, her doctor wanted to give her a liter of blood. Megan hates the blood transfusions, because they make her visits much longer than normal. It takes about an hour for the blood to arrive, and then another two hours to transfuse. As a result, she didn’t get home until nearly 3:00 p.m. Although Megan wasn’t happy about the transfusion, her day got a whole lot brighter when Allie showed up with her new baby boy. Allie is the Child Life Specialist in the CDH clinic, and Megan absolutely adores her. Since Allie had her baby, she has been out on maternity leave, and Megan misses her terribly. So when Allie and her new baby showed up at the clinic on Monday, it really made her day. Here is a picture of Megan holding the new baby boy.
As is usually the case following her chemo treatments, Megan came home and immediately went up to her room to try and sleep it off. It’s a good thing she got some rest, because she had a very early morning ahead of her on Tuesday.
When Megan’s relapse became official in February of this year, it was because of a mass she found on her left breast. To date, scans have shown no further cancerous activity in her body other than that one tumor. Even though Megan has been so anxious to have the tumor removed, her oncologists wanted to wait to see if the chemotherapy treatments shrunk the tumor, or even made it disappear. When it became apparent that it was not doing either, her doctors decided it was time to have it removed. Megan wanted it removed because it was a constant reminder of her cancer, and feeling the tumor made her anxious, so she was actually relieved that the surgery was on Tuesday. We left the house at 4:30 a.m., because we had to be at CDH by 5:30 a.m. As always, Megan was so brave. She has been through anesthesia so many times that she knows the drill, and it really no longer bothers her. She also was relieved when she got her favorite anesthesiologist. At about 7:45 a.m. they took her to the operating room, and it was only about 45 minutes later that they called us back to see her in recovery. Her surgeon said the surgery was successful. The tumor was easily removed because it was not embedded in the muscle, which meant Megan will just have a small scar to show for her troubles. When the anesthesia started to wear off, she drank some apple juice and ate a cookie, which made her feel better. She also flashed that infectious smile to let Deb and I know that everything was under control. She is the toughest and bravest 16 year old girl I know. I really don’t know how she does it every single day.
After the tumor was removed, it was sent to pathology to determine if there were still any live cancer cells in the tumor. In the meantime, we brought Megan home and tucked her into bed for another long nap.
When she woke up, she was a little sore, but she said her stomach hurt more from Monday’s chemo than her chest did from that morning’s surgery. In a matter of a couple days, you would have never known she had surgery…but the stomach issues from the chemo continued most of the week. Chemo is such a brutal process that it makes surgery seem like a walk in the park.
Grandpa and Grandma Bugg have made it a tradition that when each grandchild graduates from high school, they take that grandchild out for dinner and give them a very generous graduation gift. Kenzi had been communicating with Grandpa, and they set up a date to meet for sushi in Bloomington this past week. Kenzi was so excited to see them, and she was very grateful for her graduation gift. Kenzi even talked Grandpa Bugg into trying sushi for the first time 🙂 Grandpa is quite the softy when it comes to his granddaughters 🙂
Although Megan continued to fight some stomach issue over the weekend, she still felt good enough to finally get out and about. On Friday evening, she went over to see Kenzi at work and help her at the restaurant. On Saturday night, she and her friend Katelyn went to the Major School of Dance recital at the high school to see our neighbors (the Tjelle girls) perform. She also felt well enough after the recital to have Katelyn stay for a sleep over. On Saturday afternoon, Megan even helped Kenzi with her make-up before a graduation party she was going to 🙂
On Father’s Day, we were thrilled that Uncle Todd and Gina came over for a cookout. I threw some ribs and chicken on the smoker and we had a great time. Megan has been planning the desserts she is going to make for Kenzi’s graduation party on July 15, so today she decided to test one of her recipes on Todd and Gina. She made birthday cake truffles, which were amazing! Here she is putting them together.
Before Todd and Gina got to our house, the girls gave me my Father’s Day present. Since it was so nice outside today, we spent most of the day out by the pool, which is where they gave me a raspberry white chocolate bundt cake, which was absolutely incredible. They are both so sweet, and they make me feel like the luckiest dad on the planet!
We had so much fun with Todd and Gina. Here is a picture of the girls with them.
On Friday morning, we received a call from Dr. Salvi with the pathology report from Megan’s tumor that was removed during Tuesday’s surgery. He reported that the tumor still showed the presence of live cancer cells. Although the best possible news would have been that all of the cancer cells had been killed by the chemo, Dr. Salvi said the fact that the tumor did not spread, is good news. Megan was really disappointed, because she hoped that the tumor was dead. However, we will continue to hold onto the fact that her cancerous tumor was not growing; that her scans show no signs of any further cancerous activity; and that the cancerous tumor has now been removed. She will continue with her chemo treatment protocol and begin radiation soon. In fact, she has an appointment at the proton radiation center on Wednesday to get everything set up and determine a start date for her 28 days of proton radiation. One day at a time…
To all of the fathers out there…please take the time to give your kids an extra hug for me tonight. Until next week…