When Megan found she had once again relapsed with the tumor at the base of her skull, she had two choices. She could sit and feel sorry for herself asking why me for the 6th time…or she could choose hope. Of course, Megan chose hope.
I will never forget when we met with the radiation oncologist in June who told Megan that her MRI showed growth in the tumor in an area that had previously been radiated. He told her in no uncertain terms that there was nothing more he could do. Megan already knew that her clinically proven chemotherapy options were exhausted, so hearing that radiation was also out was a really tough pill to swallow. However, before we were even out of the parking lot, Megan was already reaching out to her childhood cancer community and to medical professionals from all over the country looking for answers. She knew that since her tumor was localized, the last best option was to resect the tumor. In short order, she connected with a surgeon in Pittsburgh who is renowned throughout the country for his work with endonasal cranial tumor resection surgery. We got Megan’s records sent to him and to make a month long whirlwind short, he told Megan that he thought he could successfully remove the tumor…but with some potentially lasting side effects.
He said that Megan’s tumor was wrapped around her 6th cranial nerve, which would most likely have to be sacrificed during the surgery. This means that Megan may lose function of the lateral movement in her right eye, which she has been dealing with for the past 8 months. The tumor is also very close to her right carotid artery, so there is a chance that they might need to perform a bypass surgery in order to resect the tumor. Although there were some risks, when asked by the surgeon if she had any questions, Megan’s response was, “How soon can we do this?”. The surgeon responded with an accelerated schedule that had us coming to Pittsburgh on Thursday, July 29 so we could get to a Friday morning MRI and CTA scan. These scans were the key to the entire surgery as he had to make sure the tumor was still operable.
Of course Megan wasn’t happy about leaving home and her pets for such a long time, but she managed to do a little bonding before she left. She also had fun carrying her Boo Boo Kitty around in the new sweatshirt that Miss Kim got her. Believe it or not, Boo Boo loved it!!!
Friday was a very long day as not only were there some unfortunate delays in the schedule, but Megan was also attempting a head MRI without anesthesia for the first time since she was first diagnosed as a 13-year-old in December, 2014. Megan was looking for some good luck, so she decided to scratch off a lottery ticket that she received as a gift before she left home. She actually won $5 so she thought that was a good sign of things to come 😉
Although she was really nervous, she found a way to power through it, but at that point the stress was just getting started. Now Megan had to wait for the surgeon to look at the scans to make sure the tumor had not accelerated and was still operable. Since the surgeon was in the OR all day, we didn’t hear from him until 7:00 p.m. Megan was so relieved to hear that her tumor had not grown and the surgeon felt like the resection was still a go. After hearing that news, Megan was all of the sudden starving and we were finally ready to celebrate Deb’s birthday. Megan and Deb found a cute Italian restaurant where we were able to sit outside on a beautiful night. We had so much fun as we celebrated Deb’s birthday and basked in the wonderful news we had received.
On Monday morning, Megan has to be at UPMC at 6:00 a.m. to go inpatient for a Balloon Test Occulsion that will test the strength of her right carotid artery. Following that test, she will have to remain inpatient until her actual tumor resection surgery and the period of recovery, which should be about a week in total. Depending on the results of Monday’s BTO test, her surgery will either be on Wednesday or Thursday of this coming week. Although Megan is still a little worn down from her rough week of chemotherapy the week prior, we tried to do our best to keep her busy so she didn’t have to sit around and think about her upcoming week. In addition to the many restaurants Megan found that she wanted to try, we also fit in a Pittsburgh Pirate baseball game on Saturday night. One of Megan’s brave childhood cancer fighting friends is Katie who leaves in Nevada and is currently in treatment. She and Megan talk pretty much every day. Katie’s Uncle Mike generously gave us the tickets for Saturday’s game, which was an absolutely beautiful night for baseball. We were so thankful to them, and to make it even better, it was Hawaiian shirt giveaway night!!!
Although it was a late night getting home from Saturday’s baseball game, Megan was excited to get going on Sunday morning and head to the zoo. After breakfast, we headed to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. Since it was so hot and humid, I pushed Megan through the zoo in a wheelchair, but the heat still got to her a bit, so we had to hustle through the exhibits. Ever since her intense first 54 weeks of chemotherapy, Megan has been very sensitive to the heat and humidity which makes outdoor summer activities hard for her. Although we had to abbreviate our visit, we still had fun before getting her back to our hotel room for some rest.
While at the zoo, Deb took this picture, which I thought was really special. Megan is again partnering with Ivory Ella on a line of shirts for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. Ivory Ella is once again donating a portion of all profits from this line of shirts to Megan’s fundraising efforts for childhood cancer research through the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute. Word has it that this new line of shirts will drop on the Ivory Ella website on August 20, but we will definitely keep everyone on Team Megan informed as more specifics become available. Megan got an early shipment of the white t-shirt that she is wearing in the picture. It was cute to see the Ivory Ella elephant on the back of her shirt while she was looking at the elephants at the zoo. Thanks again to Ivory Ella for always supporting Megan and all kids fighting childhood cancer.
When Megan travels, one of her favorite things to do is find famous local eateries with a history or unique niche. One really fun place we went for breakfast on Saturday morning was Pamela’s Diner on the Strip. Breakfast was amazing and the old time diner atmosphere was so much fun.
Before Megan left for Pittsburgh, she was so touched by the outpouring of support she received from so many people. Once she got here, that support continued when she received a package in the mail from her good friend Dailey who sent her a nice warm blanket full of pictures of she and Megan together. They also sent her a black cat stuffed animal to remind her of her Boo Boo Kitty. Megan was so touched by their kindness. As I type this post, Megan is taking a nap with her new blanket and “Boo Boo Kitty Jr.” 🙂
Megan also received such a nice surprise from the Morris Bakery this morning when they sent Megan a picture of their donuts. In honor of Megan and all kids fighting childhood cancer, they frosted all of their donuts in gold frosting to #gogold for childhood cancer. That was so kind of them and Megan was so happy to see this picture. Thanks Morris Bakery!!!
Although Megan is definitely preoccupied with her surgery this week, she is still focused on her fundraising efforts for childhood cancer research. She was thrilled when her mom’s Facebook birthday fundraiser brought in over $5,600 for her research project. Thanks to everyone who donated!!! She is also anxious for the Nelly’s Classic Car show that will take place in Wilmington on August 22. They are also holding a huge raffle for the cause, so come out on August 22 to see some amazing cars; enjoy some amazing food; and maybe win some big money!!! Once again, this event is being held to raise money for Megan’s fundraising efforts through CC-TDI. Thanks to the Nelson family for sponsoring this exciting event!!! Raffle tickets are available for purchase at Rt. 66 Old School Brewing in Wilmington.
This is a very big week for Megan, and although it will be stressful for her, I know she is ready to get this done. I know she would appreciate everyone on Team Megan sending positive thoughts for her BTO procedure at 6:00 a.m. ET on Monday morning. I know she feels your support and it means so much to Megan and our family. Stay tuned to the Team Megan Bugg Facebook page for updates about the timing of the surgery to remove the tumor at the base of her skull. Positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes. Let’s do this!!!