Searching for Some Balance

Our family is almost three years into helping Megan through the fight of her life.  Another lesson we have learned during this journey is that if you let it, cancer can consume absolutely everything.  It can consume your time, your focus, your finances, your emotions your physical health, your mental health, your relationships, and just about any other aspect of your life.  If you let it, cancer can completely define your family as it becomes the only thing you are about.  If you let it, cancer can throw your entire family in chaos, which I believe is something cancer revels in accomplishing.  That’s why it is so important to actively seek out those healthy diversions; not only for the sake of the victim, but for the victim’s family as well.  The old adage that cancer affects the entire family could not be more true.

Thanks to the generosity of so many people, throughout “Megan’s Journey”, we have had the good fortune of providing many of these healthy diversions for Megan and our family.  Whether it be a simple card or gift for Megan that she receives in the mail; an opportunity to do something fun and unique locally; a weekend trip to take advantage of an event; or even something as big as a trip to someplace exotic; we have been able to provide not just Megan, but our entire family those rare opportunities to almost forget that cancer has invaded our lives.  Don’t get me wrong…cancer is omnipresent as it is never completely absent from our daily lives, but these little diversions are priceless as we all travel this incredibly difficult journey by Megan’s side.  Thanks to a couple of very kind people, we were able to experience one of those priceless diversions this weekend…but before that, Megan had to get through the reality of fighting cancer, which means more chemotherapy.

This past Monday, Megan started Round #11 of her current 12 round (36 week) chemotherapy protocol.  The first treatment of a new three week round is always an in-patient treatment consisting of three different chemo medications, and some follow-up medications to protect her from some of the potentially harmful side effects of the chemotherapy drugs.  On these in-patient mornings, we try to get started as early as possible, because if she handles the treatments without throwing up, her doctors will release her late that evening following the final dose of her follow-up meds.  Even though Megan loves everyone on the pediatric floor of CDH, she still hates the long stays.  During her first go-around with chemotherapy, she had a series of five day hospital stays, which were really brutal for her.  Towards the end of her 54 weeks of treatment, it got to the point where she could barely step foot on the pediatric floor without being overcome by nausea.  Her current in-patient stays are really only for the entire day, but they are still mentally tough for her to get through.  Coal City School District did not have school on Monday, so Megan was thrilled when her good friend Katelyn offered to go with her to treatment.  Katelyn had to get up at 6:15 a.m. on her day off of school to go with Megan to the hospital, which was so kind of her.  Having Katelyn there really helped to pass the time for Megan.  Thanks Katelyn!!!

File Oct 09, 5 09 16 PM

Luckily, Megan handled the treatment pretty well and was released to come home late Monday evening.  On Tuesday, Megan spent most of the day sleeping off the nasty effects of chemo.  It took until Thursday before she finally started feeling human again, which was good because we had a big weekend planned.

Readers of this blog may know that the favorite sport of both Megan and Kenzi is volleyball.  Kenzi played throughout her middle school and high school career, and Megan also played until she got sick at the start of her 8th grade season.  Kenzi is now a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, which is really an amazing school in so many ways.  Other than challenging academics and an incredible campus, one of the other perks of being a Badger is getting to watch there highly touted and successful athletic programs.  Currently, the UW volleyball team is ranked 11th in the country, and as a result, tickets are in high demand.  Kenzi snagged tickets for she and her friends to the exciting Badger victory over 4th ranked Nebraska last Wednesday evening.  We really wanted to get tickets to a game for our entire family so we could take Megan and see Kenzi at the same time.  Enter another of those kind people who have been so supportive throughout “Megan’s Journey”.

Kelli Bates is a senior outside hitter for the Wisconsin Badger volleyball team.  She is from nearby Bradley-Bourbonnais High School, and amazingly she has been a four year starter for the always highly ranked UW team.  She is an incredibly talented and athletic player who never comes off the floor because of her skills and leadership abilities.  It just so happens that she and her mother Katie have been followers of “Megan’s Journey” since the beginning.  When Katie heard that Kenzi was attending UW, she started contacting us about finding a date we could all come to watch Kelli and the team play.  After trying to work around Megan’s treatment and recovery schedule, we settled on this past Friday as the date that made the most sense.  It worked out perfectly, because Kenzi just finished her first round of tests, so she wasn’t swamped this weekend.  Also, the 7th ranked Badger football team was in action at home vs. Purdue the very next day.  That meant we could watch volleyball on Friday night, football on Saturday afternoon, and most importantly, get to spend the weekend with Kenzi.  It could not have worked out any better, and we were all so excited!

We left right after school on Friday and met Kenzi and two of her friends at the volleyball match.  Katie not only got tickets for us, but snagged a couple extra for two of Kenzi’s friends.  The match was amazing as Kelli Bates and her teammates played amazing and beat the Indiana Hoosiers in three straight games.  After the game, we then had the thrill of meeting Kelli.  She was so kind to both of the girls as she showed such a genuine interest in learning about Megan’s battle, and also asking Kenzi about her freshman year.  It was so much fun for all of us when Kelli invited us out on the floor to get our picture with her and her mom.  Thank you so much to Kelli and her mom for making this possible for our family.  We were so appreciative of their kindness.  We will be watching Kelli and the rest of the Badgers closely as they make yet another run towards the NCAA tournament.  Here are a couple pictures of all of us, and then one with just the girls and Kelli.  Thanks Kelli!!!

File Oct 13, 10 02 38 PMFile Oct 13, 10 01 42 PM

The volleyball match was also a great time for our family to reconnect with each other.  It was so good to see Kenzi!!!  We are so proud of her and happy that she has found a home at UW, but we really miss seeing her everyday.  She was such an integral part of our family unit, and not having her around has really been an adjustment.  Here are a couple pictures we got while at the volleyball match.

File Oct 13, 8 41 43 PMFile Oct 13, 8 42 10 PM

Since we were going to the football game on Saturday, Kenzi stayed in the hotel with us, which was a treat.  On Saturday morning, we met her friend Ellyn for breakfast in downtown Madison, and then it was time to watch the weather for the football game that afternoon.  It rained all day and the weather called for the possibility of severe storms during the game.  Kenzi has season tickets to the football games, so I didn’t have to worry about her.  I got tickets for Megan and I because we thought it was best if one of us stayed behind just in case Megan didn’t feel well.  Since it was supposed to rain throughout the game, I don’t think Deb was too upset about staying in the hotel room 🙂  It rained throughout the first part of the game, so Megan stayed with Deb and I went to the game to tough it out with Kenzi and her friend Ellyn.  Here is a picture of Kenzi and Ellyn in the new parkas I bought them for the game.  They are true diehard Badger fans!

File Oct 14, 2 29 39 PM

The rain started to let up, so Deb brought Megan back to watch the second half with me, which was lots of fun.  Here is a picture of the two of us in our upper deck seats.

File Oct 14, 7 53 54 PM

After the exciting…and wet… Badger victory, we met up with Kenzi and headed out for a family supper.  Everything was going just as planned, but remember earlier in this post when I said cancer always finds a way to make its presence known?  When we got back to the hotel, Megan started feeling nauseous and ended up throwing up.  Chemotherapy does a number on her intestinal tract, and it got the best of her on Saturday night.  Obviously, seeing Megan sick is upsetting for all of us, but she managed to take some medication and get to sleep.  Cancer has a way of always reminding us that it still has its grip on Megan.  She is fighting so hard, but cancer is such a difficult and evil opponent.  It’s almost as if cancer has to remind her that no matter how much fun she is having, it’s still always there.  I hate cancer so much!!!

After breakfast on Sunday morning, we dropped Kenzi off at her dorm and said our goodbyes.  It will be about three weeks until we see her again, so it was so good to spend a couple days with her.  We are so proud of her, and I can’t wait to see the amazing things she will accomplish in her life.

After a whirlwind weekend, it’s back to the grind on Monday morning as Megan has her next chemo treatment at 9:15 a.m.  If all goes well, she should be back in the comfort of her bed and her beloved pets by about 2:00 p.m.  She only has five more weeks in this leg of her race.  It’s a long and arduous process, but Megan is going to beat cancer once and for all.  It’s only a matter of time.  Until next week…


In Memory of Mia

Coming off such a huge last week, Megan needed a little down time to recover this week.  She had her usual chemo treatment on Monday, which was her final treatment of Round #10.  That means she only has two more three week cycles left until she reaches the finish line of this leg of the race.  I used to think there was a real finish line, but as I have traveled this journey with Megan, I have learned that fighting cancer is more like a relay race.  You finish one leg of the journey, and then another one starts.  It’s not as simple as reaching the finish line and saying you are finished with cancer.  I wish it was that easy…but sadly, it’s not.

Megan handled Monday’s out-patient treatment pretty well, so we were able to leave the CDH clinic by about 12:30 p.m.  After grabbing a quick bite to eat, Megan immediately fell asleep on the hour ride home.  We got home at about 1:00 p.m., and she went right up to her room to sleep off the chemo.  The combination of chemo and being worn out from the prior week took it’s toll as Megan didn’t wake up until almost 6:00 p.m.!  Sometimes Megan can make chemotherapy look much easier than it is.  The truth is that she is still getting nasty poisons dripped into her body on a weekly basis.  As she nears the end of this 36 week treatment protocol, her body is getting tired and it’s taking longer and longer for her to recover.  Chemo is such nasty stuff, and it still boggles my mind that a country as advanced and wealthy as ours is still treating childhood cancer patients such as Megan with the same chemo chemo drugs they used 20 years ago.  We have to start doing better by our children!!!

Speaking of the need for more funding for childhood cancer research, Megan continues to make this quest her passion.  She is so committed to raising awareness of the funding disparity between childhood cancer and all other types of cancer.  Currently, only 4% Federal funding for cancer research is allocated for childhood cancer.  It makes Megan so angry as she continues to watch her friends suffer, and even die, from this vicious and evil disease.  I could not be more proud of her efforts to raise awareness and funding to help all kids who are in this fight with her.

September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Megan worked all month long to raise money and awareness.  Through the kindness of so many people, Megan was able to form multiple partnerships to support her efforts.  Readers of this blog know about Megan’s partnership with Ivory Ella, which guarantees a minimum of $30,000 donated to cancer research efforts at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Besides that, Megan has now raised over $9,000 to support a direct research project being conducted by Dr Walterhouse at Luries Children’s Hospital in Chicago.  This month, Megan will be presenting a check for over $9,000 to support his promising research project, which is directly related to Megan’s particular type of cancer (Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma).  Because this is money donated to a direct research project, 100% of the funds will go directly to support this research, which makes Megan very happy.  However, Megan isn’t finished yet.

Just this past week, Megan partnered with a 9 year old girl who is a fellow cancer survivor.  This girl and her father (also a cancer survivor) started a company called “Knots & Arrows”, which sells jewelry to support cancer research and families who have been impacted by cancer.  Megan reached out to her on Instagram, and within a day, they had developed a partnership which will help raise money for Megan’s cause.  If you go to the “Knots & Arrows” website and enter the code “TEAMMEGANBUGG”, you will get 20% off your order AND 20% of the proceeds from you order will go to Luries Children’s Hospital in Chicago to support the research project Megan is helping to fund.  The company really has some unique gifts, and Megan was so excited to enter into this partnership with this amazing girl.  Please go check out this awesome merchandise and support childhood cancer research.  Our kids deserve better than we are giving them right now!!!  Here is an example of one of their bracelets.  All of their bracelets are made from swimsuit material, which signifies that when you are fighting cancer, you just have to keep swimming.

On Saturday, Megan had a very emotional…yet extremely happy…visit with a very important person in her life.  Throughout “Megan’s Journey”, she has used the power of social media to connect with other teenage cancer fighters from all over the world.  One connection that became very important to her was Mia, who lived in Kansas.  Very early in their relationship, I remember Megan saying that Mia “just got her”.  Needless to say, when Mia relapsed, Megan was devastated.  Tragically, cancer didn’t give Mia a chance and it took her from us way too early.  When Megan learned that Mia was terminal, she was desperate to see her before she passed, so we drove all the way to Topeka to meet her.  When they met, you could feel the immediate connection.  It was a moment that will forever be etched in my brain.  Sadly, Mia passed only a couple days after meeting Megan.  She still misses Mia terribly, but her memory continues to fuel Megan’s fire to keep fighting cancer with everything she’s got.  She also takes comfort in knowing that Mia is watching over her now.


After Mia’s passing, Megan remained close to Mia’s mother, Amy.  After last seeing her when we were first in Kansas in January, Megan finally had the chance to see her again.  Amy was visiting family in the Chicago area, so we were able to work out a meeting at a Starbucks about an hour from our house.  It was an emotional visit for all of us, but it was also therapeutic as we were able to reminisce, share stories, laugh and cry.  Megan was so happy to see Amy and her family as they two of them have an amazing bond.  Mia’s mom also brought Megan some very meaningful gifts including some of Mia’s favorite clothes and a stuffed animal.  It was amazing to see Amy and her family again, and to honor Mia’s memory.  As we left, Megan said she really needed that, which made me smile.  Here is a picture of Megan with Mia’s mom and then another with Megan and Mia’s family.

File Oct 08, 5 44 11 PMFile Oct 08, 5 44 41 PM

Tomorrow morning, Megan heads back to CDH for the first treatment of Round #11.  This is an in-patient treatment, which includes three different chemo meds.  This one is always tough on her, but if she handles it okay, her doctors will release her late Monday night.  If all goes well, Megan should be back in the comfort of her own bed and her pets by 10:00 p.m.  The battle continues…

File Oct 04, 10 50 38 AM

A Week to Remember

This was a very big week for Megan.  On Monday, she had two chemo treatments, which followed up her three treatments the week prior.  During her three week cycles, week two is usually the toughest for her because her blood counts drop and fatigue really sets in.  This week was not the best week for her to be fighting the effects of chemo because she had three important events planned.  Although she had to do a lot of resting between events, as usual, Megan rose to the challenge and successfully met all three of her big obligations this week.  It turned out to be a week full of beautiful moments that none of us will soon forget.

On Tuesday, the Coal City Lady Coaler Volleyball team held their third annual “Megan Bugg Night” fundraiser for cancer.  The event not only recognizes Megan, but all of the members of our community who are fighting this awful disease.  Thanks to Coach McMurtrey and all of Megan’s former volleyball teammates for making this event a reality.  Not only was Megan eagerly looking forward to the event, but she was very excited that Robyn from Ivory Ella was coming to stay with us for a couple days so she could attend the volleyball match.  Ivory Ella donated the childhood cancer awareness shirt that Megan designed to all of the volleyball players and the coaches.  By the way…you can still get the Ivory Ella Childhood Cancer Awareness collection by visiting this website.  10% of all proceeds are donated to Boston Children’s Hospital to further childhood cancer research.  The people at Ivory Ella are amazing, and Robyn is no exception.  Megan had so much fun with her.  Here is a picture of the two of them.


To make Tuesday night’s event extra meaningful, Kenzi made a special trip home from the University of Wisconsin for the day just to attend the event and support Megan.  Kenzi was instrumental in starting the first “Megan Bugg Night” three years ago when she was a starting junior setter on the Coaler volleyball team.  She came back to support Megan, but also to speak at the event.  During her speech, she eloquently highlighted the importance of the need to increase funding for childhood cancer research.  Megan was so happy that her sister made the effort to come home for her night.



Kenzi addressing the crowd on the importance of funding for childhood cancer research.

When Kenzi first got home, we met for supper in Morris.  Kenzi had a special present for Megan that really made her night.  It was the stuffed animal, Pua, from one of her favorite Disney shows, Moana.  You should have seen the look on Megan’s face when Kenzi surprised her with the gift.

File Oct 01, 4 12 07 PM

Here are some more pictures from a very special night.  Thanks to Tori Cumming for coming out to take pictures on Tuesday night!

Everyone who attended the game signed this for Megan. This is Megan with the varsity Coaler squad. Many of these girls were her teammates when Megan was last able to play volleyball in middle school.



File Oct 01, 4 11 03 PM
It was so nice of some of Kenzi’s volleyball and basketball teammates to make it back from college for this event. From left: Cali Caruso (Western Illinois University), Kenady Clayburn (University of Illinois-Springfield), Kenzi, and Maddie Halliday (Northern Illinois University)
File Oct 01, 4 08 26 PM
Megan with our neighbor, Madison Emerson.
Megan with her good friend Katelyn.
Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
Megan with Tori Cumming, who made a special effort to come and take pictures for this event. Thanks Tori!!!
Members of the Wilmington High School Volleyball team presented Megan with flowers before the game. So classy!
The Wilmington Wildcats even made a sign to let everyone know how much they support Megan. So nice!
File Oct 01, 4 10 19 PM
One of the most emotional moments of the night was when the girls released yellow balloons in honor of all of the kids like Megan who are fighting childhood cancer. There was not a dry eye among the girls. Megan said she released her balloon in honor of her good friend Mia who tragically lost her courageous battle with cancer. We know Mia was smiling as she looked down on Megan 🙂
Megan was overcome with emotion during the balloon ceremony.
We had an amazing crowd for the event.


This night was all about HOPE. Megan hopes that she is raising awareness for the desperate need for more funding for childhood cancer research. Our kids deserve better. #morethan4

On Saturday evening, Megan was able to attend her Homecoming Dance with Alex Friddle.  Here are some pictures…once again courtesy of Tori Cumming’s expert photography.  Megan looked amazing!!!

File Oct 01, 3 26 47 PM
Megan and Alex

File Oct 01, 3 25 45 PMFile Oct 01, 3 27 17 PMFile Oct 01, 3 27 00 PMFile Oct 01, 3 27 48 PMFile Oct 01, 3 28 00 PMFile Oct 01, 3 27 31 PM

Today, Megan was honored to serve as the Grand Marshal of the Grundy County Corn Festival parade.  Megan was so excited because she hoped that her appearance would further raise awareness for childhood cancer.  When the local radio station interviewed her, all she talked about was her hope that she could help to raise awareness of the need for more funding for childhood cancer research.  She had a great time today as she rode in a horse-drawn carriage.  Thanks to everyone involved with the Corn Festival for making this possible for Megan.

File Oct 01, 3 15 21 PMFile Oct 01, 3 15 02 PMFile Oct 01, 3 14 17 PMFile Oct 01, 3 14 00 PMFile Oct 01, 2 56 59 PMFile Oct 01, 2 56 45 PM

This really was an amazing week made possible by so many incredibly kind people.  Thanks to everyone for their generous support of Megan, and for allowing her to pursue her passion of raising awareness for childhood cancer.  September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and although the month is now over, it’s so important to remember that the nightmare never ends for the kids and their families who continue to fight this disease.  I know Megan will not rest until not only she wins her battle, but until no more kids have to go through what she and so many others have experienced.  We have to do better for our kids!!!

Speaking of the fight continuing, Megan heads back to her reality tomorrow morning as she heads to CDH for yet another chemo treatment.  Sometimes life might not seem fair, but you have to play the hand you’re dealt.  One day at a time…

It’s Going To Be An Exciting Week!

Fighting cancer is a 24/7 x 7 days/wk all-consuming job.  During the battle, it’s hard to ever get away from the grind, because it seems that cancer is constantly attacking both your mental and physical well-being.  There are is no daily quitting time for cancer; there is not a weekend for cancer; and there is no such thing as a vacation from cancer.  Cancer is always there, which is why fighting it is so utterly exhausting for its victims…and their families.

It is because of cancer’s ever-present grip that our family has learned to live life just a little more spontaneously.  We have also learned to better appreciate the little joys in life.  We have learned to live by one of our new family motto’s…

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

This upcoming week, Megan is going to be doing a lot of dancing while still dealing with the constant struggles and curveballs cancer continues to throw at her.  But first, a quick review of last week.

On Monday, Megan checked into the CDH clinic at 8:15 a.m. for her first treatment of Round #11.  She was supposed to have her first treatment of this round the week prior, but her white counts were too low, which was a sign her body needed a break.  This week, her white counts were still a little low, but they were high enough to accept the chemo treatments.  Once we got checked into her hospital room, her nurse got fluids started while she waited for her hydration level to get high enough to start the chemo.  By 11:00 a.m., her first of three chemo treatments started.  Over the past three years, Megan has done this enough times to know that she needs to keep herself busy during those times she is not sleeping off the effects of the chemo and the accompanying medications.  She was pretty excited when the child-life specialist came in to let her know that the therapy ponies were visiting the hospital on that day.  Megan loves just about any type of animal, so she eagerly anticipating the visit from the ponies.  Here are a couple pictures of Megan with two of the therapy animals.  She really enjoyed their visit.  If you have ever doubted the effectiveness of therapy animals, you should come to the pediatric floor of a hospital and witness it for yourself.

File Sep 18, 10 55 24 AMFile Sep 18, 10 56 09 AM

After the visit from the ponies, Megan was still looking to occupy some time prior to the Benadryl kicking in and putting her to sleep for a few hours.  Over the past year, Megan has become very interested in everything surrounding cosmetic make-up.  She watches Youtube videos, websites, and just about anything she can get her hands on regarding the subject.  A recent post Megan put out on Twitter sums up why make-up has become an important hobby for her.

I love makeup so much. It’s makes me forget about everything and makes me feel beautiful for once in my life.

For the first time during a hospital visit, Megan decided to bring her make-up to give her something to do at the hospital.  It definitely passed at least an hour of time for her, which is truly a blessing when you are in the hospital receiving three different chemotherapy drugs.

File Sep 18, 11 25 44 AM

Fortunately, Megan handled her chemo treatments like a champ and we were able to come home last Monday night.  Since Megan has now had 31 weeks of chemotherapy, her body is really getting run down.  She is so tired and weak, which means it takes her longer and longer to recover following her treatments.  She slept most of the day on Tuesday, which is the norm after this first treatment of a new cycle.  She planned on trying to go to school on Wednesday, but once she started getting ready, she felt awful and just didn’t have the energy.  On Thursday, she attempted to go to school, but could not stay very long.  On Friday, she had to make the difficult decision to go see her counselor to discuss dropping some of her classes.  Megan had grand plans to be a full-time student this semester, so she took a full load of classes.  However, due to her treatments and related complications such as illness and low blood counts, she has missed so much school.  She is so far behind, and at this point in her treatment, the stress of trying to catch up is just more than she can handle, both mentally and physically.  As Deb and I continue to tell her, school will always be there once she finally kicks cancer to the curb once and for all.  Right now, her focus has to be on her health, which means she has to listen to her body and rid herself of unnecessary stresses.  When fighting cancer, you are forced to completely reassess your priorities.

The weekend could not have come at a better time for her as she has been sleeping a lot to get recovered prior to heading back to the hospital for this Monday’s treatment, and nothing helps her relax more than her beloved pets.  Here she is getting a little loving from Ophie.

File Sep 24, 1 15 37 PM

Besides her upcoming treatment, Megan needs to get rested up because she has quite a weekend ahead of her!

On Tuesday, the Coal City Lady Coaler volleyball team will be holding their third annual “Team Megan Night” fundraiser.  The Coalers play the Wilmington Wildcats on Tuesday evening with the sophomore game starting at 5:00 p.m. and the varsity game to follow.  Prior to the game, there will be raffles, a bake sale, and various other fundraisers to raise money for childhood cancer research in Megan’s name.  Megan is also really excited because her sister Kenzi is making a special trip home from Wisconsin to be there for the game.  Also, many of Kenzi’s volleyball teammates from last year are also coming home to show support for both Megan and Kenzi.  We are all looking forward to Kenzi being home even if it is only for such a short period of time.  To make the event even more special, a representative from Ivory Ella is coming to stay at our house and attend the game!!!  Megan is so excited about that!!!  Ivory Ella also kindly donated the childhood cancer awareness shirt that Megan designed to every member of the varsity volleyball team, which they will be wearing as their warm-up shirts for the game.  If you plan on attending Tuesday night’s event and have an Ivory Ella childhood cancer shirt, I know Megan would love it if you wore it to the game.  Megan and our family are so appreciate of Coach McMurtrey and the entire Coaler volleyball team for sponsoring and supporting this event.  Raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer has become a passion for Megan, so she is very excited for this event.  We sincerely hope she can recover well enough from Monday’s treatment to be able to make it to the CCHS gym and attend this event in her honor for at least a couple of hours.

This is Homecoming Week at CCHS, and as readers of this blog know, Megan was asked to the Homecoming dance by a very kind young man in her class, Alex Friddle.  Megan has her Homecoming dress and is ready to go.  After her initial treatment of a new round, it usually takes until day #9 for her counts to drop to their lowest point, which is when she usually feels her worst.  Day #9 would fall on Wednesday of this week, so we are so hopeful that cancer doesn’t take the Homecoming dance away from her.  I know Megan will be doing everything in her power to participate in this important high school right of passage.  I can’t wait to see her in her Homecoming dress!!!

To cap off a huge week, Megan will also be participating as the Grand Marshal of the Grundy County Corn Festival parade, which starts at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.  We were all shocked when representatives of the Corn Festival called Megan to ask if she would serve as the Grand Marshal.  If you are not familiar with this event, it is far and away the largest festival and parade in our county.  Megan was humbled by the honor, and the first words out of her mouth were that she wanted to use the honor as a platform to raise awareness for childhood cancer.  You can read about Megan’s amazing honor in this article published in the Morris Daily Herald.

Obviously, this will be a very big week for Megan, and we are hopeful that cancer allows her to participate in all of it.  However, the reality is that cancer won’t “allow” Megan to do anything.  Instead, Megan will have to overcome everything cancer throws at her this week, but I am confident that her positive attitude and determination coupled with the incredible support of everyone on “Team Megan” will allow her to come out on top this week.

It will be a very exciting week for Megan, but that doesn’t change the harsh realities that come to those kids and their families who continue to be impacted by the cruelty of childhood cancer.  September is not over yet, which means you still have time to show your support for all of the kids who are fighting this viscous disease.  More importantly, your support may make it possible for that blessed day to come when no more children have to deal with the horrors of childhood cancer.  There are so many ways you can show your support, and with so little Federal dollars being allocated to childhood cancer in comparison to other types of cancer, every dollar counts. #gogold

Throughout this journey, I continue to make contact with parents all over the world who are devastated to learn that their children have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer.  Early in Megan’s treatment, her first connection was with Kasey Harvey from San Diego.  Kasey has always served as an important source of inspiration for Megan, because she has now been in remission for two years.  However, her two year scans showed some irregularities which caused her medical team to conduct further testing.  Upon hearing the news, Megan was so worried about her.  We are so happy to report that Kasey’s scans came back clear and she is still in remission!!!  Go Kasey!!!

For every Kasey Harvey success story, there is an Isaiah.  I recently connected with Isaiah’s mom, which is where I learned about the two tumors that were discovered in Isaiah’s neck.  One of the tumors is wrapped around his spinal cord, and during the course of his radiation treatments, the other tumor actually grew in size.  Isaiah’s parents are now faced with the agonizing decision of whether to try radiation again, but risk allowing the tumors to continue growing; start radiation not knowing if it will be successful; or risk a surgery to remove the tumors that could leave their son paralyzed.  By the way…Isaiah is only 9 years old.  Yes…childhood cancer is very real and these kids and their families deserve more support than they are getting.  When you listen to Isaiah’s story, doesn’t it make you question how our Federal government can only allocate 4% of cancer research funding to our children?  I just don’t get it…and yes…it makes me angry!!!  Please keep Isaiah and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Megan continues to fight with everything she’s got…not only for herself, but for Isaiah, Sophie, little Ellie, and all of the other kids who are in this brave fight with her.  She also continues to fight for the brave souls who have lost their battles like Megan’s special friend Mia and Natalie, who serve as important sources of inspiration to Megan.  As Megan continues to advocate for the need for more funding for childhood cancer research, I will end this post with a recent Instagram post Megan wrote pleading for more to be done to save our kids.


This was my best friend Mia. Both Mia and I were fighting stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Mia had relapsed and was on hospice. I drove 7 hours from Illinois to Kansas to meet her and 2 days after I had met her she passed away. I was devastated. I didn’t go to school for days constantly sobbing and mad at the world. This is our faults for letting children die because everyone is just watching it and not doing anything about it! You might think differently if you or your child gets diagnosed. Don’t wait for someone you know to get childhood cancer. Make a difference now so that we can find a cure! I love you so much Mia and I can’t believe it has been 8 months. I hope heaven is treating you well my angel. I am forever a better person because of Mia and now, she is gone. #hatecancer #morethan4 #childhoodcancerawareness #duckprints

Constant Reminders

Watching Megan fight this disease is by far the most difficult experience of my life.  In fact, nothing comes remotely close to the stress and anxiety you feel watching your child battle such a vicious and evil foe.  However, as hard it has been on Deb and I, neither of us could ever pretend to know how difficult this battle has been, and continues to be, for Megan.  Sometimes it seems like she just can’t ever get away from the fight as there are always constant reminders.  Even in those few times she is feeling good, she still cannot totally escape cancer’s grasp.  Cancer’s grip is strong, and at times it seems to squeeze her with everything it’s got.  Megan is strong, and she always fights back, but she is also still a teenager with very real emotions and fears.  I really don’t know how she does it every single day.

On Monday, Megan had an early appointment at CDH because she was supposed to go in-patient for the first round of cycle #11.  Her current chemo treatment protocol consists of 12 three week cycles, with the first of week of each cycle requiring an in-patient stay.  Megan has stayed on schedule throughout her treatment as her counts have stayed relatively strong.  She has only required one transfusion, which was necessary because her hemoglobin was low.  Unfortunately, her body just could not keep up anymore as her white counts on Monday were too low to receive her chemo.  Megan was disappointed because she wanted to stay on schedule and be done with chemo in six weeks.  She didn’t see the week off as a break, but rather as just further extending her race to the finish line.  However, Dr. Hayani assured her it was just her body telling her that she needed a break.  Therefore, Round #11 will start tomorrow with an in-patient stay consisting of three different chemo medications.

After Megan’s blood counts came back, Dr. Hayani examined Megan.  As he checked her, Megan told him about a pain she has been having on the left side of her chest.  Megan has been worried about that pain for about a week, but we couldn’t feel anything and thought she must have just pulled a muscle or something.  As Megan answered Dr. Hayani’s questions, I could see from the look on his face that he was getting concerned.  When he said he was going to order an immediate x-ray and CT scan, Megan and I both became very concerned.  When I said I cannot imagine what Megan goes through during this battle, what was happening at that moment is exactly what I am referencing.  We had to walk from the CDH clinic to the diagnostic area, which is about a 100 yard walk through the hospital.  The look Megan had on her face as we made that walk is something that I hope no other parent will ever have to experience.  She was absolutely terrified…as was I.  She was trying to be brave as she fought back the tears, but she was completely silent as we made that walk.  It is another of those moments that I will never forget.  To watch a 16-year-old teenage girl have to deal with the thought of her own mortality is so cruel and difficult to watch.  However, as she has done so many times before, she bravely went in to get her x-ray and CT scan…and then we waited.

The x-ray results came back relatively quickly, and Dr. Hayani said that nothing showed up that looked unusual.  He also cautioned that he could not be sure until the CT results came back.  Unfortunately, those results didn’t come back until about 2:30 p.m., which meant we all agonized as we anxiously awaited the results.  Megan slept most of the afternoon, which was her way of dealing with the stress.  When Dr. Salvi called with the results, he said that the CT scan showed some irritation, but it was not consistent with a cancerous lesion.  Instead, he was convinced that it was an irritation caused by her recent proton radiation.  He also sent the results to Megan’s pediatric radiation cardiologist, who confirmed Dr. Salvi’s opinion.  When I woke Megan up to tell her, you could see the instant relief on her face.  Yet again, Megan dodged another bullet and showed cancer it could not get the best of her.  I am so proud of her toughness, resilience and grace in the face of this evil disease, but I would give anything if she could just be a normal teenager again.

After Monday’s scare, Megan needed something positive, which just so happened to take place on Wednesday evening.  Megan’s friend Katelyn called Megan and asked her to go to supper with her.  Little did Megan know that Katelyn was getting Megan out of the house so Alex Friddle could ask her to the Homecoming dance.  Alex and his friend Trevor came over to decorate Megan’s room and surprise her with an invitation to the Homecoming Dance on September 30.  When Megan came home, she found her room decorated with streamers and balloons, and Alex inside with a sign asking her to the Homecoming dance.  Megan was so happy, and it was quite an emotional night to see her so happy.  Megan has known Alex since they were in the middle school musical together, and I know they will have a great time at the dance.  Here is a picture of Megan and Alex just after she accepted his kind invitation.

File Sep 13, 7 30 39 PM

On Thursday, it was back to the battle for Megan as she received a text message that one of the girls she had connected with from the Boston area,Natalie, had passed away from osteosarcoma.  Megan said she wasn’t extremely close to this brave young lady, but it still hit her hard.  Every time one of her friends succumbs to cancer, it is yet another reminder to her that she is in the fight of her life.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Natalie’s family as they deal with the tragic loss of their daughter.  Our kids deserve so much better!

Then a day later, Megan found out that her friend Kasey from San Diego had to undergo a CT scan because her two year scan showed something concerning.  That obviously hit Megan hard as well, because Kasey was the first girl Megan connected with during her cancer battle.  Kasey has always been an inspiration to Megan and we are so hopeful that her CT scan comes back clear.  Please keep Kasey and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

We adults may have occasional thoughts about our own mortality, but a 16-year-old girl should not be thinking about such things.  Megan should be planning the rest of her life.  She should be thinking about where she wants to go to college, and what she wants to be when she grows up.  She should be thinking about what it will be like when she has a family of her own.  She should be thinking about all that life has to offer.  Instead, she has to deal with the constant reminder that she has childhood cancer.  She has to deal with the fact that she has to fight through the battle of her life before she can start to think too far into the future.  No child should be in this situation.  We have to do better!!!

Speaking of doing better, it is still Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and Megan is still working hard to increase awareness for every child fighting this vicious disease.  Her Ivory Ella fundraiser is still going strong.  In fact, Megan heard from an Ivory Ella representative early last week and he told her that they have already sold over 2,000 of her shirts!!!  That’s over $8,000 being donated to Boston Children’s Hospital to fund childhood cancer research.  Besides the shirt, you can also purchase a Love Your Melon hat, two different Alex & Ani bracelets, and an awesome fluffy elephant that Megan claims is awfully cuddly.  If you go to the Ivory Ella website, you can still order any or all of these items and 10% of the money will go towards funding childhood cancer research.  We are appreciative of Ivory Ella for partnering with Megan on this project.

Megan has also partnered with Tori Elizabeth Photography, who has generously offered to donate $100 from every photo shoot in September to childhood cancer research.  If you cannot get scheduled in September, Tori has offered to extend the offer into October.  Tori takes amazing pictures as we could not be happier with the family photos she took for us.  Here is an example of her work.  Thanks Tori!!!

File Sep 11, 9 35 17 PM

We were all excited on Friday as Kenzi came home for a quick visit.  She recently started her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, and she seems to have settled in very well.  She loves everything about being a Badger, and we are so proud of everything she is accomplishing.  She decided to come home this weekend because after looking at her schedule, she said she won’t be able to come home for another weekend for at least the next six weeks.  We were all so excited to see her!!!  Here is a picture of she and Megan at our family dinner at La Piazza.  Deb took her back early this morning because Kenzi wanted to get back for an event on campus that started at 1:00 p.m.  I knew she would do well, but I have been amazed at how quickly she has become accustomed to being a student at UW.  We all miss her terribly, but we are so happy for her.

File Sep 16, 7 00 08 PM

Tomorrow morning, Megan heads back to CDH for her first treatment of Round #11.  She will received three different chemo drugs, and if all goes well, she should be released to come home at about 10:00 p.m.  Let’s hope Megan can once again fight off the nausea and get back home to the comfort of her own bed and her pets.  Cancer is a tough opponent, but Megan is tougher.  Cancer has met its match!!! #gogold

File Sep 11, 9 27 05 PM

#gogold for Childhood Cancer

As we continue through Childhood Cancer Awareness month, Megan continues to find motivation in raising awareness for this cause that is so near and dear to her heart.  All month, she has been sharing statistics with me that are heartbreaking, but provide even further motivation for her to bring awareness to this important cause.  For example…every two minutes somewhere in the world, a family learns the devastating news that their child has cancer.  About 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year.  Every day, 250 children tragically die from cancer.  Over the past 40 years, incidents of childhood cancer have increased 24%, yet funding to save our children still falls woefully inadequate.  For 2015, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) budget was $4.93 billion.  Childhood cancer received 4% of that sum or $198 million.  Prostate cancer, which has an average age at diagnosis of 66 years, receives more research funding from the NCI than all childhood cancers combined…and the average age of diagnosis for a childhood cancer victim is only 8!!!  Megan is still being treated with some of the same chemo drugs that were used in the 1970’s, because so few new drugs have been developed to combat this disease for our most precious resource…our children.  When Megan shares these statistics with me, of course she gets angry…but more so she becomes even more motivated to bring awareness and make a positive difference in the lives of these kids.  It’s so sad that kids like Megan have to take the lead for this cause because our government officials seem to be content to leave our kids behind…and yes…I’m a little salty about this topic!!!

It’s so exciting for Megan to see others rallying behind childhood cancer awareness.  On Friday, Megan received a message from her high school counselor, Mrs. Dransfeldt, that a student in Morris had raised $173 for childhood cancer research.  Wyatt Schultz is obviously a very caring young man as he wanted Megan to take the $173 he raised and apply it to an organization of her choosing that supports childhood cancer research.  When so little money at the Federal level is allocated to such research, every bit matters.  Thanks to Wyatt for being so kind and for making a positive difference in the lives of children!!!

File Sep 10, 5 55 48 PM

On Monday, Megan had her weekly chemo treatment at the CDH clinic.  This treatment completed her 10th round of treatment, and she only has two more rounds to go, which equates to 6 more weeks of treatment.  During her first go around with this disease, we anxiously anticipated the completion of Megan’s 54 weeks of treatment.  As she neared the end of her treatment, I frequently posted about her getting so close to the finish line.  However, I have learned some sobering lessons since her first treatment ended.  When Megan relapsed in February, 2016, I learned that Megan will never reach a true final finish line, because cancer will always be a part of her life.  When she completes her current 36 week treatment protocol, she will have reached another finish line, which is definitely reason to celebrate.  Unfortunately, the finish of her current race will mark the beginning of yet another race, which consists of getting through scans every three months for the next two years of her life.  If she gets through that, she will start running a race between every 6 month scan for the next two years.  Then she will run an annual race to her yearly scan results for the rest of her life.  Megan continues to win the battles, but the war is far from over.  Cancer is relentless, and I could never hate anything more!!!

Last week, Megan was working hard to overcome the chemo-induced mouth sores that were making life very difficult for her.  The past two weeks were rough ones as Megan fought off a bad cold and then had to deal with those painful mouth sores.  Thankfully, by Monday, the mouth sores had started to improve.  Since Megan had not been able to get out of the house much, she asked if I would take her to the mall in Joliet to play with the puppies.  She said puppies make her smile and she really needed to smile after having such a rough 12 days.  Of course, I couldn’t say no, so off we went.  Here are a few pictures of Megan with the two puppies she played with…and she was right…puppies do make her smile! 🙂

As Megan continues to battle the physical and mental effects of cancer and chemotherapy treatments, she never loses site of all of the other kids fighting this awful disease.  Every week, Megan looks forward to seeing little Ellie at the CDH clinic.  Megan treats her like a little sister, and is always concerned about how Ellie is doing with her treatments.  Ellie relapsed a few weeks before Megan, so they have been traveling this difficult road together.  In celebration of Ellie completing her treatment this coming week, Megan put together a gift basket which Ellie absolutely loved.  Here is a picture of Megan after Ellie had opened all of her gifts 🙂

File Sep 05, 9 58 52 AMFile Sep 05, 9 59 16 AM

Megan successfully completed her treatment by about noon on Monday and then we headed for home so she could sleep it off.  As I have said many times, Megan wears that infectious smile that makes this process look so much easier than it actually is.  After a treatment, her body is exhausted as the chemo takes its toll.  This is how Megan typically looks on her way home from chemo.  In fact, when she got home, she slept for five more hours!!!  Sleep is the best medicine when dealing with the side effects of chemo.

File Sep 05, 5 48 27 PM

By Wednesday, Megan was feeling better and tried to make her way back to school on a part-time basis.  After school on Wednesday, Megan and her friend Katelyn delivered the Ivory Ella Childhood Cancer Awareness shirts to the members of the high school varsity volleyball team.  She is so excited that the team is going to wear the shirts for their annual “Team Megan Night” fundraiser game on Tuesday, September 26!!!  Megan was first diagnosed during her 8th grade year at the start of volleyball season, where she was a starting setter.  She has been fighting this battle so long that her former teammates are now varsity volleyball players.  While Megan was there, Coach McMurtrey and the girls made her feel right at home.  Megan even jumped in to volley a little with some of her former teammates.  She had so much fun..but was a little sore the next day 🙂

File Sep 06, 9 37 44 PMFile Sep 06, 9 39 00 PM

By the way…Megan’s Ivory Ella fundraiser for childhood cancer research is still going strong.  10% of all sales go to funding childhood cancer research at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Be sure to stop by the Ivory Ella website and check out the awesome merchandise that Megan helped design.  It’s for a great cause!!!

We were all excited for the work week to end because we had made plans to go visit Kenzi at the University of Wisconsin.  When Kenzi moved in, Megan was sick and never got to see her dorm room.  I know Kenzie was as excited as we were for our family to get back together for a visit.  We got to her dorm room on Friday evening and all went out for an awesome supper at an Italian restaurant Kenzi had picked out.  After that, Kenzi showed us where her classes were, and then we made our way to the terrace at the Memorial Union.  It is so beautiful there as it overlooks the lake.  We had some ice cream and just enjoyed all being together again.  Here is a picture of the girls standing at the edge of the terrace by the lake.  It’s really is gorgeous there!!!

File Sep 09, 11 03 44 AM

After the terrace, we went to the Field House to watch some volleyball.  There was a tournament going on, so even though the Badgers weren’t playing, the girls still wanted to go see some college volleyball.  Here they are getting ready to watch the game.

File Sep 09, 11 03 20 AM
You can see Kenzi is wearing her Ivory Ella childhood cancer awareness shirt 🙂

After the game, we went back to Kenzi’s dorm because Megan stayed with her while Deb and I stayed in a hotel room.  We left the UW campus at about 9:30 a.m. on Saturday because Kenzi was heading with her friends to a Badger football game.  Game day in Madison is definitely something special!  Kenzi seems to be adjusting to college life well, and UW is sure a dynamic campus where there is always something going on.  We had so much fun seeing her even for a short visit.

File Sep 09, 11 54 56 AM

On Monday, Megan heads back to CDH for the start of Round #11, which consists of three different chemo treatments and an in-patient hospital stay.  If all goes well, her doctors will usually let her come home late at night.  Megan hates staying in the hospital, so even if we don’t get released until 11:00 p.m., she wants to come home…and I don’t blame her one bit.  Recovery is a lot easier in your own bed surrounded by your loving pets.

Until next week…


Let’s Stop Childhood Cancer!

September 1st marked the beginning of Childhood Cancer Awareness month.  As I have watched Megan struggle through yet another week, I am more passionate than ever about the need to find a cure for this awful disease that infects far too many of our children.  Currently, less than 4% of funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancer, which is a travesty.  I would love to see one of our legislators walk in Megan’s shoes for a week, and then try to justify for me how the most advanced and wealthiest country in the world can dedicate such a paltry sum to saving our children.  We have to find a cure so no more children have to go through what Megan and so many other children are forced to endure.  The time is now!!!

File Sep 01, 11 14 15 AM

Megan continues to show a passion for being a part of the solution.  Throughout her journey, she has used the magic of social media to make connections with many other teenage cancer victims throughout the U.S. and the world.  She has had her heart broken too many times as some of her brave friends have succumbed to the devastation that is cancer.  She is determined to fight for each of them, and her resolve is as strong as ever.  However, she has realized that this fight is much bigger than her.  She knows that to really make a difference, she had to become an activist for childhood cancer victims everywhere.  Her vision is set on finding a cure for childhood cancer, and she will do everything she can to raise awareness and funding for the cause.

Readers of this blog are familiar with Megan’s partnership with Ivory Ella, as they collaborated to design a Childhood Cancer Awareness long sleeve shirt, a Love Your Melon hat, two Alex & Ani bracelets, and a cuddly elephant that makes the perfect sleeping partner.File Aug 26, 3 20 04 PMMegan is so thankful for the overwhelming response Ivory Ella received when they pre-launched the collection.  We have heard from many of her “Team Megan” supporters who have tried to order a shirt only to find them sold out.  We have spoken with the Ivory Ella representatives, and they have assured that everyone who wants a shirt will be able to order one.  On September 1, they re-launched the collection to coincide with Childhood Cancer Awareness month, so if you go to their website now, you should find most sizes available.  I think Ivory Ella may have underestimated the power of “Team Megan” 🙂  Megan would like to sincerely thank everyone for their support of her fundraiser for the Boston Children’s Hospital.  10% of every item sold will go directly to funding childhood cancer research at this prestigious hospital.  Please go here now and purchase some awesome products to support a very important cause.  Thanks!!!

Speaking of fundraisers for childhood cancer research, last week I wrote about our family photo shoot with Tori Cumming of Tori Elizabeth Photography.  Tori took the amazing photos of Megan that have been featured on the Ivory Ella website.  We also wanted family pictures before Kenzi went to college, so Tori took those for us as well, and they turned out amazing.  Here a few pictures she took of the girls.

As you can see, Tori does amazing work.  In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness month, Tori is generously donating $100 from every September photo shoot to support childhood cancer research!!!  Tori wrote the following on her Facebook page, and asked if I would share it so she could reach as many people as possible.

 “I originally reached out to shoot with Megan, because I wanted to give her an hour of peace. An hour of giggles, lots of smiles, and plenty of photos of her feeling beautiful and confident in her glowing skin. Our area, and the surrounding areas that so many of us are connected to, have far too many kiddo and adult warriors fighting their toughest battles against cancer. With that being said, if you know someone, anyone- families/siblings/best friends or just individuals from children to 90+ years of age- PLEASE send these beautiful souls my way. I want nothing more than to treat each and every one of these unstoppable warriors to an hour of peace, breathtaking views, and giggle tummy aches. Help me do our part- let’s fight this fight together.”

If you choose to help fight this fight by scheduling a photoshoot with Tori, please know: She is booking up to three shoots per day on the weekends, as well as evening shoots during the week, in order to raise as much money as possible. Her turnaround time on receiving photos back is normally about two weeks, BUT because of these fundraising efforts, she is very likely to be backed up through the month on getting sessions edited & returned.  She has already scheduled nine shoots for September, which is $900 going to childhood cancer research!!!  If you can’t get scheduled in September, she is also going to honor the same deal in October. Tori appreciates your patience in advance!  Go to Tori Elizabeth Photography to find open dates and/or contact Tori to schedule an amazing photo shoot.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed…and it’s for a great cause!!!  Thanks Tori!!!

Wednesday was a very big day around our house as it was a major transition for us.  At 5:30 a.m., Deb, Kenzi and I hit the road to Madison, WI to move Kenzi in for her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin.  Before she left, Kenzi wanted to get pictures with the pets, but unfortunately, Belushi wouldn’t cooperate:(  However, she did get pictures with Sparky and Ophie.

Just like the rest of us, I know Sparky was a little sad because he slept in Kenzi’s room most every night 😦  However, it was a day of celebration because we know Kenzi is so ready for this new chapter of her life, and after moving her into the university, we know she was meant to be a Badger.  We got there at about 9:00 a.m., which is when we met up with her roommate Hannah and her family to start the move-in process.  I really didn’t think those two girls where going to fit everything into their 12 x 14 space, but by the end of the day, it looked fantastic.  Here are a few pictures of Kenzi in her new dorm room.

File Aug 30, 8 52 56 PMFile Aug 30, 8 52 26 PMFile Aug 30, 8 51 33 PMFile Aug 30, 8 53 23 PM

Although Kenzi’s dorm building is one of the older buildings on campus, she has a view to die for.  Right outside her back window is the lake.  In fact, she can walk out the back door of her building and in about 20 steps be on the lakefront bike/running path.  I told her people pay a lot of money for that view, which is when she reminded that I am paying a lot of money for that view!!! 🙂

At about 4:30 p.m., Deb and I could tell that Kenzi was about ready for us to leave.  Although leaving her behind was so hard, Deb and I both felt comforted knowing that Kenzi is ready and she is in the right place.  I can’t wait to see everything she accomplishes over the next four years at the University of Wisconsin.  We love you Kenzi!!!

Kenzi leaving home was not only an adjustment for Deb and I, but it was for Megan as well.  Luckily, through social media, they have been able to stay in touch.  On Thursday morning, I sent this picture to Kenzi to let her know that her sister was thinking about her.

File Aug 31, 8 25 32 AM

On Friday night, Kenzi had the awesome experience of going to her first UW home football game.  She had a blast with her roommate and some of her new friends…and the Badgers pulled out a victory.  Here are a couple pictures.

File Sep 01, 10 06 47 PMFile Sep 01, 8 57 50 PMFile Sep 01, 5 44 56 PM

One of the unfortunate realities of cancer are the extreme highs and lows that accompany the journey.  While Kenzi experienced one of those moments we will always remember, Megan has been struggling all week with the awful side effects of chemotherapy.  Last weekend, she was fighting a bad cold, which for her can be very dangerous due to her low white blood cell count.  Luckily, her fever never got high enough for a hospital stay, but she felt miserable all weekend, which continued into this past week.  She is still having trouble shaking her cold, and on top of that, she had two more chemo treatments last Monday.  Cancer never takes a break, so neither can Megan.  To top everything off, she started getting some nasty mouth sores on Monday, which have really accelerated in severity throughout the week.  Mouth sores are a side effect of some chemotherapy drugs, and although Megan has had them before, she has only had them really bad once, which was in March 2015.  That bout landed her in intensive care for nine days, so we are obviously concerned and monitoring her closely.  Usually, the mouth sores start to recover once her white counts improve, and since she is on day six of her Neupogen shots, hopefully this turns around soon.  Unless you have experienced this before, you really can’t have any idea of the pain and constant discomfort she is in.  It’s hard for her to eat or drink, and sometimes it’s even hard to talk.  It’s really awful.  Here is what a sore looks like, and Megan currently has five of these in her mouth.

File Sep 03, 9 55 13 AM

She is so frustrated, because the mouth sores have made it impossible for her to be at school this week.  She was so looking forward to starting her junior year as a full time student, and taking part in all of the social activities high school has to offer.  However, she has already missed over half of the days of school, and she will also miss Tuesday due to another chemo treatment.  It’s all just very frustrating for her.  I really can’t imagine what she goes through every single day…which is why we need a cure NOW!!!  No one should have to go through this…let alone a child.  I hate cancer with everything I’ve got!!!

No matter how frustrated and sore Megan gets, there is always one thing that makes her feel better…her pets.

File Sep 03, 5 12 20 PM

It’s definitely been a week of ups and downs for our family.  Cancer seems to thrive on creating as much chaos for its victims as possible.  I cannot wait for the day when we finally break through with a cure and eradicate this awful disease forever.  Please assist Megan and all of the other kids who are battling this disease each and every day by supporting Childhood Cancer Awareness month.  You can do so by purchasing Megan’s Ivory Ella collection or by scheduling a photo shoot with Tori Elizabeth Photography.  If you can’t participate in either opportunity, please find another way to support the cause.  It doesn’t have to be a monetary donation; it can be as simple as calling your congressman and telling them to support more resources for childhood cancer research.  We can all play a part in ridding society of this ridiculous disease.  I know Megan would be forever grateful for any support you can provide.

Until next week…

File Aug 28, 5 46 51 PM