Make no mistake…Megan is one of the lucky ones. She has battled one of the most daunting forms of childhood cancer and come out on top not once, but four times. Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma is an evil beast, but Megan has never shied away from the challenge. Over the past five and half years, there have so many times when I have been in awe of her strength, determination and grace in the face of such adversity. When her mouth sores were so bad that she could not swallow or talk, she just kept fighting. When the neuropathy in her legs got so bad she couldn’t walk up the stairs to her bedroom, she just kept fighting. When the nausea got so bad that she couldn’t leave the bathroom, she just kept fighting. When she ended up in the ICU with a life-threatening sepsis, she just kept fighting. And when she relapsed for the 4th time, she remained as determined as ever to beat childhood cancer once and for all. Megan is by far the toughest young lady I have ever met, but I hope no one from the outside looking in thinks this battle is easy. Childhood cancer carries with it so many physical challenges, most of which are apparent to anyone. However, it’s the accompanying mental challenges that can truly wear down not only a child fighting cancer, but even more so for a childhood cancer survivor.
There are no better words for a childhood cancer fighter than “remission”. However, in traveling by her side throughout “Megan’s Journey”, we have learned that “remission” means you won the battle, but the war is far from over. The mental struggles of learning to live as a childhood cancer survivor can be crushing. Just think about how many times you get a headache, a cough, a sore throat, a very low grade fever, achy joints, a sore back, etc. For a childhood cancer survivor, every single one of those aches and pains brings with it the thought that the beast has returned again. The anxiety of the cancer returning leads to the awful memories of chemotherapy and all of the terrible side effects that come with these archaic treatments. Then your thoughts naturally lead to your own mortality, which is a weight that no child should ever have to bare. On most days, Megan handles this incredible burden very well, but at times, it can get the best of her. Like she has told me in the past, there is never a day that the anxiety doesn’t enter her mind for at least a little while. The battle is daily.
This week, Megan just hasn’t been feeling like herself. She has been extremely tired and struggling to get through routine daily activities. The likely culprit is that she just has a touch of something, but naturally, her mind is working overtime. This weekend, she got in touch with her amazing nurse practitioner, Kathy, who always answers Megan’s texts no matter the day or time. Kathy gave her some reassurance which helped. Megan also got some blood work done on Saturday morning, so she should get those results on Sunday. She is not scheduled for her next set of scans until August 24 and 25, and her team knows that is a long time for Megan to wait for some relief from the anxiety, so even thought everyone believes she is okay, it is a matter of putting some things in place to make her feel better. Obviously Megan is not unique to this all too common phenomenon of living with the anxiety that comes with being a childhood cancer survivor. So many of Megan’s friends continue to experience the same feelings. It’s just one more reason that we have to find a way to conquer this terrible disease so that it cannot continue to wreak havoc on the lives of our most precious resource…our kids.
The best thing to do when Megan is worried is to keep her mind as busy as possible. Megan was so excited that her good friend, Katelyn, came from Missouri to visit her for a couple days. She and Megan had a lot of fun…especially when they went for supper and a shopping trip to Morris. Megan even made a stop to get the first haircut she has had since she ended her last chemotherapy treatment. It’s little things like this that many take for granted that are truly beautiful moments for our family.
It’s been helpful that her sister, Kenzi, is still home for a couple more days before she needs to head back to Madison for her senior year of college. Speaking of Kenzi, it is so hard to believe that she is starting her senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We are so proud of everything she has accomplished while being a Badger. Of course she is disappointed that her senior year will be mostly online learning due to this pandemic, but that will not diminish her obtaining that degree from UW. She is studying to be a speech pathologist, so she will soon be applying for graduate school. In preparation, she has been hard at work this summer completing an online GRE preparation class, and she will be taking the actual GRE exam on August 26. It is amazing to watch her motivation as she religiously sits down every single day for at least an hour to complete her daily GRE lesson. My dad always told me that hard work and determination were the keys to success in life. If that is indeed true, and I’m sure that it is, then success is definitely in Kenzi’s future. Here is a picture of Kenzi and her boyfriend Nick just prior to their date night.
Thursday was Deb’s birthday. The girls were so excited to make the day special for her. We got some birthday donuts to start her day, and the girls worked hard to make sure she had the perfect gifts. Kenzi put together a Shutterfly book of the trip we took a couple years ago to Paris and London. It’s something Deb always wanted, so she was really excited. Megan got her a special bubbling water dish for the cats, which Deb also absolutely loved…and so did the kitties :). However, the coup d’etat was the four layer chocolate birthday cake with Megan’s famous homemade chocolate frosting that the girls made for their mom. It was incredible!!!
Megan was so excited to make the $16,000 deposit from her garage sale into her fundraising account through the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute. Thanks again to everyone on “Team Megan” who made that event such a huge success. Megan has now raised over $63,000 to fund the preclinical trials necessary to help bring a very promising treatment for RMS to full clinical trial. Although her fundraising to date has been amazing, she knows she still has a long ways to go to reach the $180,000 needed to reach her goal. The “Team Megan Bugg Golf Outing” is taking place on August 22 at the Nettle Creek Golf Course, which Megan is also really excited about. The response to this event has been amazing!!! Although all of the foursomes are filled, there are still opportunities for sponsorships, but tomorrow is your last chance as the sponsorship signs have to get to the printer. If you are interested in sponsoring this event, please contact Tim Jezik at 815-679-8149. Megan would like to thank everyone who has already agreed to sponsor this event. Once again, all proceeds will go towards her fundraising efforts through CC-TDI.
Megan is strong and she is as motivated as ever, but it’s important to remember that for her, the battle continues…every single day.