Please Don’t Forget the Children

It has now been 649 days since Megan was first diagnosed with stage 4 aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer.  Recovering from cancer is a long and arduous process as the disease takes such a physical and mental toll on the body.  However, Megan continues to fight the good fight as she is determined to fully recover the life cancer unsuccessfully tried to steal from her.  She continues to keep her days busy with school, attending Kenzie’s volleyball games, hanging out with friends, and of course, getting to her various medical appointments.  Fortunately, her doctor appointments are becoming fewer and fewer, which is very nice because then she doesn’t have to miss school.  Believe me…our family knows how fortunate we are that Megan has defiantly defied the odds by beating down cancer.  It’s amazing how tough a 100 pound 15 year old girl can be.  I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes a friend sent to me during Megan’s 54 week treatment.

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

It was a very busy week around our house as Kenzie had volleyball matches on Tuesday and Thursday, and then competed in the Minooka tournament on Friday and Saturday.  The Lady Coalers have 21 wins on the year with only two regular season games left on Monday and Tuesday.  Monday is “Senior Night”, which will be an emotional evening.  It’s hard to believe that Kenzie’s high school volleyball career is nearing an end.  We are so proud of her and everything she has accomplished on the volleyball court during her career.  Last week, I reported on the “Team Megan Night” fundraiser the volleyball team did to raise money for the pediatric cancer patients at Central DuPage Hospital.  In our local paper this week, there was this picture of the girls as Kenzie dedicated her game to Megan.


Also from that game, we received this awesome picture from Fred Ritz.  Fred has taken pictures at Coaler sporting events for years, and he is such a nice person.  We especially liked this picture because it not only showed Kenzie in action, but most of our family and friends who attended the event are in the background.  Unfortunately, Megan is hidden in the front row behind Kenzie, but it was still a great picture🙂


Last week, Megan was really struggling with some dizziness and headaches.  Although it is still hitting her from time to time, she did much better this week.  Her doctor still wants her to see her pediatric cardiologist just as a precautionary measure.  The intensity of Megan’s chemo treatment caused some minor damage to her heart, and Dr. Salvi just wants to make sure that her heart is not causing any of her dizziness.  The good news is that the symptoms seem to be waning.

As a parent, when you first hear the devastating news that your child has cancer, one of the first things you do is Google absolutely everything you can possibly find to become educated on the disease.  Unfortunately, such a search makes you painfully aware of how underfunded childhood cancer research really is.  In the past 20 years, the FDA has initially approved only two new drugs for childhood cancer, and half of all chemotherapies used for pediatric cancer are over 25 years old.  About 96% of money for cancer research is dedicated to adult cancer, which leaves only 4% for all childhood cancers. As a result, there is an estimated $30 million annual gap in childhood cancer research funding.  I strongly believe that our children are our most precious resource, and if that is the case, how can finding a cure for childhood cancer be such a low priority?  In past discussions with Megan, she gets very irritated with these facts, and as a result, she is very interested in bringing more attention to this disparity in funding.

Luckily, there are groups out there who are doing everything they can to help bridge this gap in childhood cancer research.  Today, our family went to Gardner-South Wilmington High School because we were invited to participate in a 5k walk to raise funds for the “Cure It Foundation”, which is a fantastic organization dedicated to supporting pediatric cancer research.  The organizer of the event is a teacher at GSW High School, and her 5 year-old  daughter is suffering from Leukemia, but thankfully, she is responding well to treatment.  We were honored that Megan was asked to come and cut the yellow ribbon to start the walk.  It was a tremendous event to raise money for a great cause.  Unfortunately, Megan wasn’t feeling well this morning, so she didn’t participate in the walk, but she was able to be there for the opening ceremony and to cut the ribbon.  Kenzie, Grandpa Bugg and I all walked the race in honor of Megan.  Here are a few pictures from today’s event.





Cancer is such an awful disease, but it seems extra cruel when it picks on our children.  We just have to do a better job of funding pediatric cancer research and finding a cure for this vicious illness.  Thankfully, there are people like we met today at GSW high school who are taking matters into their own hands in an attempt to protect our children.

Until next week…



The Return of “Team Megan Night”

It has now been 642 days since Megan was first diagnosed with stage 4 aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer.  From the very beginning of Megan’s Journey, we have been amazed and humbled at the incredible support she has received from family, friends, and everyone who joined “Team Megan”.  Throughout her treatment, there were some very dark times for her that were only made tolerable through the kindness and generosity of so many of her supporters.  When she was in the midst of some of her chemo cycles, there were moments when I wondered how she would get through the next day, the next hour, or even the next few minutes.  It was at those times that someone would always come through with an act of kindness.  Sometimes it was a nurse’s comforting words that would help to ease Megan’s mind.  Other times, someone from “Team Megan” would deliver flowers to her.  Many times, it was simply getting her daily mail which would be filled with cards from her “Team Megan” supporters.  There were so many people who played a part in Megan crossing the finish line on January 25, 2016 with her hands raised in victory, and we could never begin to adequately thank everyone.  “Team Megan” grew into a powerful force that cancer just could not match.

Even though Megan is now in remission, her “Team Megan” supporters continue to let her know that they are still behind her as she learns to live as a cancer survivor.  Last year, Kenzi’s volleyball team held a “Team Megan Night” where they raised money to donate to the pediatric cancer patients at Central DuPage Hospital.  It was an amazing event, which was only made possible by the generosity of the Lady Coaler volleyball players, coaches and parents.  At last year’s event, Megan was still in treatment.  This year, the volleyball program wanted to once again honor Megan with another “Team Megan Night”.  However, this year’s event was to be a celebration of Megan’s successful battle.  Kenzie gave a beautiful opening speech to welcome everyone, and then each volleyball player recognized a family member or friend who has fought this awful disease.  Once again, the team wanted all of the money raised to go towards buying gifts for the CDH pediatric cancer patients.  Last year, the team raised $2,000, but this year, thanks to the support of everyone in the Lady Coaler volleyball family, the event raised $2,500!!!  Just as when Megan was in her treatment at CDH, those gifts are going to help many kids get through some of the dark times that accompany chemotherapy.  I have said it many times…our family is so fortunate to be a part of this amazing community.  Of course…the evening was made complete when Kenzi’s team beat Westmont in two games to run their season record to 19-6.  Also, both Kenzi and Megan were excited that so many of our family and friends came to the game to support them.  Although I didn’t get pictures of everyone, here are a few that I got of the incredible evening.

Kenzie dedicated her game to Megan🙂
Makenna Emerson surprised the girls by coming back for the game.
Makenna congratulated Kenzie after the win.
The Bugg and Emerson girls after the game.
Megan’s favorite teacher, Ms. Erb, came to sit with Megan for the game. Makenna and Megan’s good friend Katelyn are also in the picture.
Grandpa and Grandma Bugg made the trip up for the game.
The girls are always happy to see Jerry and Kay Cougill.

Grandpa and Grandma Coope, Grandma Irene, Uncle Todd and Gina, and Aunt Tammie also made it to the event, but I wasn’t able to get pictures of them.  I know both Megan and Kenzie appreciated everyone coming out to support them.

For the past week, Megan has been struggling with some dizzy spells.  One day at school, she got so dizzy that her friend Katelyn thought she was going to pass out.  The school called me to come and check on her, and I decided to have her come home to lay down for the last hour of school.  I called her oncologist who thought it could have been exacerbated by Megan’s anxiety she feels when something doesn’t feel right.  However, when she felt dizzy the next day, we took her to see Dr. Salvi at CDH.  Just to be safe, he wants Megan to see her pediatric cardiologist.  During her chemo treatments, Megan experienced some minor damage to her heart that her oncologists have been monitoring.  Dr. Salvi didn’t believe Megan’s dizzy spells were being caused by her heart, but he just wants to make sure.  Unfortunately, Megan has been fighting the dizzy spells most of the weekend, and it’s really starting to frustrate her.  As a cancer survivor, Megan is extra sensitive to anything with her body that doesn’t feel right, so this dizzy issue has really been weighing on her.  Hopefully, she just has a touch of something and the sensation will wear off soon.

Even though Megan hasn’t been feeling the best, she still wants to get out and take advantage of the long holiday weekend.  Yesterday, Kenzie had a sleep-over with a bunch of her basketball team members, so Megan, Deb and I went to Naperville to do some shopping and eat at Megan’s favorite Mexican restaurant, Uncle Julio’s.  Today, we had our good friends, the Cougills, over for supper as I took advantage of the great weather to smoke some brisket and ribs.  Tomorrow morning, Ms. Erb is coming over to help Megan get caught up from the classes she missed due to her doctor appointment on Friday.  Kenzie also has volleyball practice in the morning.  After the girls are finished with their morning obligations, we are all going to Chicago to do some shopping and just hang out as a family.  Hopefully, Megan is feeling okay because it should be a great day!

Until next week…

Belushi decided it was time for Megan to wake up this morning🙂


The Kindness of Others

It has now been 635 days since Megan was first diagnosed with stage 4 aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer, and with each passing day, she seems to be gaining more and more of her life back.  Transitioning back to school has been tough for her, but last week she seemed to turn a corner, even though she had multiple tests and quizzes throughout the week.  The first few weeks of school, a week like that would have completely stressed her out.  Megan wants to do well so badly, and as a result, she puts lots of pressure on herself to perform in class.  Her teachers and guidance counselor have assured her that she will do fine, but Megan is determined to succeed in school.  Putting that much pressure on herself has caused her to become quite anxious for tests and quizzes.  However, this past week, she studied on her own to prepare and didn’t seem nearly as worried as she did in previous weeks.  She did fantastic on everything, which I think really bolstered her confidence.  It’s good to see her becoming more and more sure of herself both academically and socially at school.

On Friday, the high school held their “Game Show Friday” assembly, which is a fun event that Principal Mitch Hamann organizes periodically for the students and staff.  Megan came home from school on Friday and said she volunteered with a group of her friends to go up on stage in front of the entire school!  I can guarantee you that never would have happened when she as in middle school.  She seemed proud of herself and was extra excited that her group actually won.  Overall, it was a great week for her to be a Coaler!

On Tuesday, Kenzie’s volleyball team had a game at Wilmington High School.  It happened to be Wilmington’s “Pink” game as a part of October being breast cancer awareness month.  However, instead of just honoring breast cancer victims, Wilmington made it a point to honor all cancer victims.  Each player chose a cancer victim to play for that night and prior to the match, all of the cancer victims were recognized by those players.  Megan was amazed when the entire Lady Coaler volleyball team chose to play in honor of her that night.  Each girl was generously provided a pink carnation by Wilmington High School and after Megan’s name was announced, Kenzie led as each Coaler volleyball player gave their carnation to Megan.  Everyone from both Coal City and Wilmington gave Megan a standing ovation.  It was really very touching and I know Megan really appreciated everyone’s kindness.  To top off the evening, the Lady Coalers won the match to run their record to 18-6 on the season.  Here is a picture of Megan holding all of her pink carnations while she received a standing ovation.  Thanks to the Lady Coalers and the Lady Cats for making Megan feel so special.


In previous posts, I have shared the story of little Ellie, who Megan met while undergoing treatment at CDH.  Little Ellie was just a baby when she was diagnosed with ARMS.  Megan has followed her story closely as she thought Ellie was about the cutest baby she had ever seen.  I am very happy to report that Ellie completed her treatment protocol in mid-September.  Megan was thrilled when she received an invitation to Ellie’s party celebrating the conclusion of her treatment.  On Saturday, Megan and I drove up to Wheaton to congratulate Ellie on her amazing accomplishment.  When we saw her, she was pretty engaged in eating a yummy cupcake, which we both thought made her even cuter :)  Megan gave Ellie a little bracelet and a card to let her know how proud she was of her.  We are so happy for little Ellie and we wish her the best in her upcoming scans. #elliestrong  Megan came away from the party with a flower balloon🙂


On Friday night, Kenzie and I traveled to Plano to watch the Coaler football team play while Megan went shopping with Deb.  Other than that, we hung around and tried to catch up around the house for the rest of the weekend.  Today, Megan decided she wanted to make some pumpkin cupcakes, so Kenzie decided to lend a hand.  We usually end up with at least one batch of baked goods each weekend…and I’m not complaining🙂


This will be another exciting week as on Tuesday, the Lady Coaler volleyball team is holding their second “Team Megan Night”.  The girls play Westmont High School that night.  Last year, Megan wanted all of the money raised to go towards buying gifts for the pediatric cancer patients at CDH.  The girls raised $2,000 dollars last year, bought all of the gifts, and then invited Megan to come with them to deliver the gifts to CDH.  This year, they plan on doing the same thing, but they are committed to raising even more money.  They will be holding a bake sale, raffling off gift baskets, and accepting donations…all in an effort to brighten the days of kids who are fighting the battles of their lives against this evil beast.  Kenzie will be the featured speaker at the event, so it should be an exciting night.  We have lots of family coming for the event to watch Kenzie play and support Megan.  We are so appreciative of Coach Pam McMurtrey and the entire Lady Coaler Volleyball family for supporting this event.

Day by day…week by week…and now month by month, Megan is slowly taking her life back from cancer.  It’s a long hard battle, but with the support of wonderfully kind people like those at Wilmington High School and the Lady Coaler Volleyball family, each day gets just a little bit easier.  Cancer will always be a part of Megan’s life, but she is determined to never be a victim.  Cancer had no idea who it was messing with…

Of course, no week is complete without a couple of pet pictures. This time, both Megan and Kenzie made the cut🙂

Belushi welcomes Megan home after school.
Kenzie and Belushi hanging out in the morning.


Facing the Physical and Mental Challenges

It has now been 628 days since Megan was first diagnosed with stage 4 aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer.  There are definitely two distinct aspects of cancer recovery.  The first is the physical recovery from cancer and its corresponding treatments, which are brutal in nature.  The physical toll that chemotherapy and radiation takes on the body is nearly immeasurable, and Megan is still recovering from certain ramifications of her treatment.  Although her foot drop is drastically improved, its impact on her gait is still noticeable.  Her body became so weak during treatment, so recovering her strength and stamina is an ongoing process some eight months following the conclusion of her treatments.  She has to go to her pediatric cardiologist in January, 2017 to see if her chemo-induced heart damage is starting to recover or not.  Her hair is still not growing in the spot where she had radiation near her left eye, but luckily, her hair is growing long enough to cover that up.  Megan is concerned about her left eye looking different than her right, which Dr. Salvi said is caused by the impact of radiation on that particular area of her body.  Her skin is still discolored on her left forearm from the radiation burns.  Although the physical toll of cancer treatment is rough, I have come to believe that it pales in comparison to the process of recovering emotionally from cancer.

Although Megan is doing very well, there are some aspects of the mental recovery that continue to challenge her on a daily basis.  On Tuesday, she had her monthly check-up at CDH with her oncologist.  Although she just had her clean scans a couple weeks ago, there is still that ever-present fear in the back of her mind that her doctor might just find a tumor during his physical exam.  Megan has gotten quite adept at telling her oncologists everything that could possibly be bothering her, because she knows the doctors will check those areas of her body extra close.  While undergoing treatment for cancer, Megan learned that she has to be her own best advocate, so even though it goes against her introverted nature, she no longer hesitates to ask her doctors anything and everything that is on her mind.  As a parent, it’s hard to explain the anxiety that you experience watching Dr. Salvi carefully check Megan for tumors.  Although it only takes a few minutes, it seems like an eternity as you wait for him to let you know that everything looks fine.  If I am feeling that anxious, I can’t even imagine what Megan goes through as she lays on the examination table.  Luckily, we once again got the all clear from Dr. Salvi, and with those words, I could see the relief in Megan’s eyes.  The mental stress of being a cancer survivor is very real.

Following her appointment at CDH, Megan then had to go to Marionjoy for an appointment with Dr. Pavone, who is treating her foot drop.  Dr. Pavone was very pleased with her progress, and said that if she continues on her current path, she should be finished with treatment in January, 2017!!!  Following her appointment with Dr. Pavone, she then stayed at Marionjoy to get fitted for new nightcasts.  It was a very long afternoon as we didn’t get back home until 6:00 p.m., which is when Deb and I immediately got in the car and headed to Kenzie’s volleyball match.  Megan was pretty exhausted and had some homework to complete, so we let her stay home with her friend Emma.

As I stated in last week’s post, Megan is becoming motivated to find an avenue to give back to other pediatric cancer patients and their families.  She has some really amazing ideas, and she is so anxious to get started on them.  On Wednesday night, she and I met with Shawn Hamilton and Chris Shirkey, who were the co-directors of the “Team Megan 5k”.  They have agreed to help her with her dream of raising funds to help other children who have been afflicted by this terrible disease.  We met with them for about an hour and a half to get the ball rolling.  As we concluded the meeting, I asked Megan if she had any more questions for us.  Her response was, “So…how long will it take to get this started?”  Hopefully, we can keep up the momentum and help her reach her philanthropic goals.  We are so appreciative of Shawn and Chris agreeing to assist Megan and our family with this important mission.  There will be much more to come about Megan’s vision in future posts.

Megan continues to adjust to life as a full-time student at Coal City High School.  She has received tremendous support from her counselor, Mrs. Dransfeldt, who Megan really enjoys confiding in.  She also continues to receive home tutoring from her favorite teacher, Ms. Erb, whenever she needs to get caught up from missing school.  When she missed most of the day on Tuesday to attend her doctor appointments, Ms. Erb came over Wednesday after school to help her get caught up.  Megan adores Ms. Erb and the two of them work so well together.  Megan’s confidence with her school work is still lacking, which is understandable given the fact that she was had not been a full time student for 20 straight months during and immediately following her treatment.  At times, she can get very frustrated that she is behind, but after working with Ms. Erb, she usually feels much better.  Each day at school gets a little better for her both academically and socially.  Once again, transitioning back to school is just another example of the mental challenges recovering from cancer carries with it.

On Friday, Kenzie took a college day to go visit the University of Iowa.  We had gone there once, but it was on a Saturday in the summer, which really didn’t give her a true feel for the campus.  This time, she signed up for a formal tour, which gave her a much better idea of what her life would be like as a Hawkeye.  She has already been accepted there, but she is still waiting on her acceptance status from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota before making her final decision.  Iowa was a beautiful campus, and she loves the amazing teaching hospital they have.  Given that she wants to become a pediatric oncologist, she was really intrigued by the brand new children’s hospital that will completed this November.  I have no idea where she will end up, but it has been fun to spend time with her as she visits various schools prior to making her decision.  Here is a picture of her showing off her VIP badge prior to the opening presentation on Friday.


Kenzie’s high school volleyball team continues to play very well as they are now 17-6 on the season.  Their losses have all been to much larger schools or private schools, and they are undefeated in conference play.  Since it is her senior year, her relatives have made a concerted effort to come and see her play as often as possible, which Kenzie really appreciates.  Considering that none of them have less than an hour drive to get here, we all are appreciative of their support.  At Thursday’s game, Uncle Todd, Gina, Cousin Danny and Grandpa and Grandma Bugg all made the trip.  Following the big win against Seneca, everyone hung around for pizza at our house.  It was so much fun!  Of course, in all the excitement, I forgot to get a picture of everyone.  However, I did manage to get this picture of most everyone gathering around the computer to watch a rival volleyball team play via live stream.


Here are a few other pictures from another tremendous week for Megan as she continues to remind cancer that when it picked her, it definitely had no idea who it was messing with!  Until next week…

Megan decided to whip up some breakfast scones this weekend.
The finished product…yummy!!!
Ophie gets some lovin’🙂
Belushi takes a break on Megan’s lap.

Giving Thanks and Giving Back

It has now been 621 days since Megan was first diagnosed with stage 4 aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. As readers of this blog know, Megan recently got the amazing news that her latest three month scans showed no sign of cancer.  That was such a relief to Megan and our family, and since that time she has been trying to live the “normal” life of a teenager in high school.  She went to the Homecoming dance last week, which she and her friends really enjoyed.  She is also getting more and more accustomed to being a full-time student at Coal City High School.  With each passing week, she seems to be catching on to the whole school thing as her anxiety levels continue to decrease.  She is also spending lots of evenings with friends as she just generally seems to be much more at ease with her life.  As I have said many times, when you are fighting cancer, you have to become an expert at living in the moment.  You can’t look back and ask why, and you can’t allow yourself to look too far ahead and wonder about all the “what ifs”.  Instead, you have to focus on making the most of each and every day you are given, and Megan seems to be getting better and better at that particular skill.  As Megan’s cancer remains in remission, she is now starting to focus more and more on how she can start to help other children who have become victims of this terrible disease.  She also continues to be very concerned about all of the other kids she has connected with who are still battling the beast.

Most everyone knows that one of the most important connections Megan made during her treatment was with Kasey Harvey, who lives in San Diego.  They connected via text and have remained close to this day.  Thankfully, Kasey is also in remission from ARMS, so now she and Megan deal with the same “scanxiety” that plagues most all cancer survivors.  The Harveys are a wonderful family and we are so fortunate to have met up with them a couple of times.  This past week, Megan received the amazing news that Kasey’s latest three month MRI results came back clean!!!  That was such a relief to Megan and we are so happy for Kasey and her family.  Megan and Kasey are two of the toughest and most determined teenage girls you will ever meet.  The “Survivor Sisters” can both relax for three more months knowing they have once again tamed this vicious disease.


While Megan was in the final stages of her treatment at CDH, we were able to connect with the family of Ellie Walters.  Megan thought little Ellie was about the cutest baby she had ever seen!  It seemed so unfair that Ellie was also fighting ARMS, so throughout her treatment, Megan was always very interested in keeping up with Ellie’s progress.  I am so happy to report that Ellie has completed all of her chemo treatments and her latest scans showed her cancer to be in remission!!!  The Walters family invited Megan to their celebration party, and Megan was very eager to go.  We can’t wait to see little Ellie and celebrate with her family.  Congratulations Ellie!!! #elliestrong


I long for the day that this evil disease no longer afflicts our children, because it just seems so unjust.  However, having experienced many pediatric cancer patients, I can tell you that all of these kids are absolutely incredible.  They are all experiencing a living hell, and yet they do so with a smile on their face and a warm heart.  I continue to believe that these kids are so much tougher and more resilient that we adults.  I know I could have never done what Megan accomplished over her 54 weeks of treatment.  However, to her, it was just what she had to do to get better.  She never doubted herself and she never lost faith in her ability to beat down cancer.  Kids are really incredible…but I still wish cancer would just leave them alone!!!

Over the past few weeks, Megan has become very interested in trying to find a way to help other kids who are fighting cancer.  Recently, she was asked to attend the “Cure It” 5k walk in Gardner, IL, which is being held to raise money for childhood cancer research.  The walk takes place at Gardner-South Wilmington High School on Sunday, October 16 at 10:00 a.m.  If you are interested in participating, please call Jen Arrambide at 815-237-2176 or e-mail her at  In the past, Megan might have been too shy to participate in such an event, but now she is anxious to go and show her support.  She will be cutting the yellow ribbon to start the race and she is determined to walk the entire 5k on her own!  It should be a great morning in support of a very worthy cause.

This week, Megan will also be meeting with Shawn Hamilton and Chris Shirkey, who were the co-directors of the “Team Megan 5k” that was held in 2015.  She wants to meet with them because she has some ideas about things she wants to try and do to raise money for childhood cancer patients.  She also wants to find a way to foster communication between teenage cancer patients across the country because she knows those contacts were so important to her successful recovery.  I am anxious to hear what ideas she has to share with Shawn and Chris on Wednesday night🙂

Overall, it’s been another great week for Megan.  She is going to school; spending time with friends; attending Kenzi’s volleyball games (by the way…the Lady Coalers are 13-3 so far this year!!!); and just generally living the life of a high school student.  Here are a couple of pictures of the week that was…

Kenzie made some chocolate chip cookies for her boyfriend, so Megan helped her finish the project. The cookies were really good!
Megan and her friend Katelyn working on homework for their Intro to Business class.
Of course…no post is complete without a picture of Megan and one of her pets. This time, it was Belushi that made the cut.

Until next week…


Homecoming Week

It has now been 614 days since Megan was first diagnosed with stage 4 aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer.  After receiving the incredible news last week that Megan’s latest scans were clean, this past week was much less stressful for Megan and our family.  In fact, this week seemed almost “normal” as the girls went to school, came home and did their homework, and we went to Kenzi’s volleyball games.  Even though the week seemed normal, it was Homecoming week at Coal City High School, so the weekend was pretty exciting around our house.

Last year, Megan was in treatment during her freshman Homecoming, which meant she could not participate.  However, now that she is back in school full-time, she and some of her friends planned to attend the dance together.  They all went shopping together a few weeks ago to get their dresses, and Saturday was finally the big day.  I found it extremely emotional seeing her able to go to the Homecoming dance with her friends just like a normal teenage girl.  It was also Kenzie’s senior Homecoming, which only added to the emotion of the day.  Instead of writing the details, I thought it would be easier to show you all of the excitement in pictures.

Megan and her friend Katelyn took this picture right after the Homecoming pep assembly at the high school on Friday afternoon.
Kenzie at the Homecoming football game with all of her senior volleyball friends. Kenzie is wearing #83.
Saturday morning there was a sophomore volleyball tournament at CCHS. Megan’s former volleyball teammates paid tribute to Childhood Cancer Awareness month by getting Megan this yellow cupcake heart. Thanks to Danette Wren for organizing this for Megan. She was touched and excited to be with her old teammates.
The girls getting ready to head to the dance.  I know I may be a little biased, but I thought they looked gorgeous!!!



Makenna Emerson stopped over to see the girls in their dresses. It was so good to see her.
Kenzie and and her date for the dance, Nick Hayden.


The girls with Megan’s good friend Emma.
This is the group of friends Megan attended the dance with…Jada, Emma, Megan and Jessica.


Both girls had a great time at the dance.  While they were there, Megan got pictures with two of her favorite teachers…Miss Erb and Mr. Micetich.  Miss Erb has tutored Megan since February to help get her caught up at school.  Megan absolutely adores her!  Mr. Micetich tutored Megan in Algebra I this summer.  Megan first started working with Mr. Micetich when she participated in the 8th grade musical production of “High School Musical 2” and they have been close ever since.  We are so appreciative to both of them for everything they have done for Megan.

Megan and Miss Erb
Megan with Mr. Micetich

After the dance, Kenzie went with Nick and a bunch of her friends for a late dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings.  Emma’ parents took Megan and Emma to Red Lobster for their late meal.  Both girls got home at midnight and collapsed into bed.  It was an amazing day!

Today, Kenzie slept away most of the day as she recovered from volleyball matches and the excitement of Homecoming week.  Between her tough academic schedule and volleyball, she needed the break!  Megan slept in, but when she woke up, she had the itch to bake.  I really like to cook, but one thing I have never found success with is blueberry pie.  It is the only pie I make that I just cannot get to set correctly.  It always tastes good, but it seems that no matter what I do it turns out runny.  Megan was determined to try and one up me by making one herself.  She and Deb went grocery shopping this morning and returned with the fresh blueberries Megan needed.  After a lot of time and effort, she got the pie into the oven and baked, but the jury was still out.  After supper, she tentatively cut into it and took out the first piece, and believe it or not, she did it!  She made the blueberry pie that her dad could not pull off.  It was amazing!  Here are a couple pictures of her preparing her pie for the oven.



It was a great week at the Bugg house as more and more “normal” keeps finding its way into our lives.  Trust me…it is a welcome addition!!!  Until next week…





It’s been 607 days since Megan was first diagnosed with stage 4 aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer.  Although her cancer has officially been in remission since January 25, 2016, learning to live with the anxiety of being a cancer survivor has been no picnic for Megan.  With every ache or pain, the anxiety alarms go off as she is worried it is a sign the dreaded beast has returned.  Every time she feels a bump anywhere on her body, we can see the fear in her eyes.  Allergies that cause discomfort in her nose or throat bring with them the concern that the pain just might be caused by a return of cancer.  I could not even begin to imagine the constant fear that Megan lives with on a daily basis.  Considering all she is going through, it is absolutely remarkable how well she has transitioned back to school and life as a “normal” teenage girl.  Learning to live with the daily anxiety of being a cancer survivor is tough enough as it is, but nothing compares to the fear that goes through her mind during her three month scans.  That’s what Megan was faced with this past week, but as usual, she once again showed cancer that it was no match for her determination and mental toughness.

On Monday, Dr. Salvi scheduled Megan for a chest CT scan and a brain MRI.  Megan was very concerned about the MRI because her claustrophobia makes staying in that tube very difficult…especially considering the brain MRI requires her to wear a helmet to immobilize her head.  When Megan was first undergoing tests for cancer in December, 2014, she had to go through three hours straight of MRI testing and it was absolutely awful.  Ever since then, she has tried her best to avoid going back in that tube.  However, Dr. Salvi said that she was at the point of her recovery where he really needed a brain MRI.  Dr. Salvi offered to prescribe Valium to get her through it, but Megan refused.  She reasoned that she was going to have to deal with MRI’s for the rest of her life, so she wanted to prove she could get through it.  She really is an amazing kid.

Megan went to school on Monday morning, but she had to be dismissed at 10:45 a.m. to get to CDH in time for her scans.  I know she was a nervous wreck, but she tried her best to be positive during the ride there.  When we arrived, she had to spend the first hour drinking the nasty contrast liquid that is required for the CT scan.  After that, she went in for the chest CT scan and had no issues.  Then she only had about five minutes before the MRI was scheduled to start.  Megan was really nervous about the MRI, but she had mentally prepared herself to get through the 30 minute scan.  However, when the MRI technician came to visit her, she said the doctor had also ordered an MRI of her orbits, which increased the time to 90 minutes.  Megan asked if she would get a break in between the tests, but the technician said that would not be possible because her head had to be in the exact same position for both tests.  Megan is the bravest teenage girl I have ever met, but hearing that she had to be in that MRI tube with her head bolted down for 90 minutes straight was too much for her.  Megan was disappointed, but we ended up rescheduling the MRI for Thursday morning when she would undergo the scan under anesthesia.  Although it was the only option, Megan was still upset that she would have to wait longer to get the scan results back.

We were thrilled when Dr. Hayani called to let us know that the chest CT was clear!!!  However, Megan knew she was only 50% done because the MRI was still out there.  Knowing she still had an upcoming MRI scan made Wednesday and Thursday very tough days for Megan.  She still went to school and did her best to concentrate, but it was obvious she was not herself.  There were many a tears shed at night as her mind would wander to the “what ifs” with the MRI.  More than once, she would lament that she didn’t know if she could fight this battle all over again. I just can’t imagine what she was going through during those few long days, and I find it amazing that she was still able to go to school and function each day.

On Thursday morning, we left the house at 4:15 a.m. because we had to check in to CDH at 5:30 a.m.  Megan hates going under anesthesia because she always gets sick when she wakes up.  However, she was in pretty good spirits as I think she was just ready to get it over with.  One of the fears Megan had was having her port accessed by a nurse who didn’t have experience accessing such devices.  It’s very painful for her if the nurse can’t access the port on the first try.  You should have seen the look of relief on Megan’s face when Nurse Jenny walked into her room to access her port.  Neither of us could believe that Jenny took the time to come to work early just to access Megan’s port.  There is a reason Megan loves Nurse Jenny…as does the rest of our family.  She is the best!!!

Megan went under anesthesia at 7:30 a.m. and by 9:30 a.m. I was called back to be with her as she woke up.  She looked fantastic!  The anesthesiologist provided her with medication to keep her from getting sick and it worked like a charm.  By 10:45 a.m. we were headed for home and Megan was asking if she could stop at Portillo’s for a chicken sandwich!  I know she was very relieved the MRI was over, but her euphoria was short-lived as very soon she started to stress over the results.

Megan slept most of the day on Thursday, but Friday morning she was getting dressed and ready for school.  Although she wanted to get to school and stay in the routine, she told me she couldn’t concentrate on anything but her MRI results.  She was really hoping the results would come back sometime Friday morning so she would know where she stood prior to the weekend.  I will admit, Friday morning was not only difficult for Megan, but it was agonizing for the rest of our family.  Deb, Megan and Kenzie were texting me over and over to find out if I had heard anything.  Finally, at about 11:45 a.m., I received the call from Dr. Salvi.

Although I had been waiting all morning for that phone call, as my phone rang, I was so scared to answer it.  So many thoughts went through my head in such a short period of time, but after a few rings, I took a deep breath and answered my phone.  To be honest, I don’t remember anything Dr. Salvi said after “There is no evidence of disease in the MRI.”  I know he told me some other things, but I don’t really remember.  After hearing that incredible news, I immediately drove over to the high school because I knew Megan was at lunch.  She was having lunch with Kenzie, and a couple other friends when I told her the news.  You could see the relief as soon as she knew she was okay.  Here is a picture of everyone right after the amazing news.

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After finding out that she had once again kept cancer at bay, Megan set about enjoying the rest of the holiday weekend.  On Saturday, we all drove to Willowbrook to watch Kenzie play in a volleyball tournament.  As always, Kenzie played great as the Lady Coalers took the championship of the consolation bracket in a very difficult tournament.  On Sunday, Uncle Todd, Gina and Cousin Danny came for a cookout.  Megan and Kenzie decided to make some white chocolate raspberry-filled cupcakes, which were amazing!  Here they are working on their creations, and also a picture of the final product.  They made a great team🙂

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We had a great time with Uncle Todd and everyone.  Here are a couple pictures of our visit.

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Megan, Uncle Todd and Cousin Danny
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Megan, Kenzie, Deb and Gina

Megan has already beat down cancer, but every three months, she is faced with the demons again as she can never be sure until the results of her scans come in.  At least now she can enjoy three months of peace until she has to do it all over again.  Such are the cards she has been dealt, but I have no doubt she will continue to find a way to turn her hand into a winner.  Thanks to everyone on “Team Megan” for your amazing support for her this week.  We are thankful to each and every one of you.

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