October 2, 2022
Between Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and some major life changes for our family, I haven’t had the chance to post here in a little over three weeks. During that time, I have been posting over on the Team Megan Facebook page about all of the events and activities the Megan’s Mission Foundation participated in to further Megan’s dream of ending childhood cancer. As I reflect back on the month of September, there have been so many times when I have felt Megan’s presence so strongly. We have accomplished so much over the past month while also going through an important life transition of our own, but through it all, I believe that Megan has been carefully guiding us through every step of the path. She was always so wise for her tender age, which is why our family has been allowing her guiding hand to lead us down the road we are currently traveling. She always knew just what each of us needed, and over the past few weeks, we have relied on her more than ever. However, before I get to the three of us, I want to share what we accomplished during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which was always the most important month of the year for Megan.
When Megan was still with us, she was always relentless during the month of September in advocating and raising funds for childhood cancer research. When she wasn’t even strong enough to be doing so, she would attend events and speak to anyone who would listen about the dismal plight facing victims of childhood cancer. To honor her legacy and continue with the goals of the Megan’s Mission Foundation, we did our best to carry on all of the events that Megan used to facilitate. We started with her annual partnership with Ivory Ella to offer a line of Childhood Cancer Awareness merchandise for sale during September and through the end of the year. This year’s design is awesome and I know Megan would have loved it. You can still get yours by visiting the Ivory Ella website…and remember…10% of all profits go directly to support the Megan Bugg Global Rhabdomyosarcoma Research Laboratory at the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute.
The “Megan’s Mission Garage Sale” was held on September 10 and thanks to so many generous people, it was a huge success. The event raised nearly $7,000 for the “Megan Bugg Global Rhabdomyosarcoma Research Laboratory”. We never could have pulled off this event without our amazing support team who worked tirelessly from 7:30 a.m. until into the evening. Thank you so much to everyone who made this event possible.
There wasn’t much time to rest after the garage sale, because the very next Saturday we held the “Megan’s Mission 5k Run/Walk”. We had incredible weather that evening with about 300 registered participants. A special thanks to our Race Co-Directors Shawn Hamilton and Chris Shirkey for making this event possible. Also, thank you to all of our participants. I know Megan would have been so proud seeing everyone at the starting line wearing their gold gear, and I also know she would love the fact that 300 people will be wearing gold stocking caps this winter to raise awareness for childhood cancer research. Congratulations to our top three finishers in the male and female divisions.
One of Megan’s favorite events of the year was Curefest weekend, which takes place every September in Washington, D.C. Megan always came away from this event so inspired by the courage and bravery shown by her childhood cancer colleagues as they advocated passionately for increased funding for research. The last time Megan attended Curefest was 2019 because in 2020 COVID caused the event to be held virtually. For the 2019 event, Megan was really far too sick and weak to be there, but she insisted on attending to support the greater cause of childhood cancer awareness. It was oppressively hot in D.C. that year, and Megan was relegated to a wheelchair, but she still led the annual March to the Capital by leading the group in chants in support of this important cause.
Earlier this year, I was contacted by the Director of Curefest who asked us to attend this year because they were giving a special award in Megan’s honor. Every Saturday evening there is a special event where everyone gathers at Freedom Plaza for a slate of speakers and performers who vary from childhood cancer survivors to dance teams all in support of a common cause. It is such a powerful and meaningful evening and Megan was always so inspired by the event. At the conclusion of this year’s Saturday evening, Curefest presented a special award in honor of Megan’s passion and dedication to the childhood cancer community. It was such an honor and I know Megan would have been so proud. I was humbled to accept the award on Megan’s behalf and on behalf of our family. Here is my acceptance speech in Megan’s honor.
Curefest is such an amazing event that not only shines a bright light on the massive funding issue facing childhood cancer, but it also brings the entire childhood cancer community together. This event was the one place where Megan felt like everyone around her really understood what she was going through, and it made her feel at home. It was so good to catch up with so many of her friends…but it was especially nice to catch up with her good friend Leanna who has been such an amazing supporter of not only Megan, but the entire childhood cancer community.
One of the most powerful aspects of Curefest is the Honor Wall that recognizes kids who have fought valiantly but eventually succumbed to the ravages of childhood cancer. I can’t tell you how hard it was to see Megan’s picture on this wall, because in previous years Megan would slowly walk down the entire wall purposefully taking in the devastation caused by this disease. She would always leave that wall with tears and her eyes, but also so motivated to keep making a difference. Although it was really difficult to see my girl’s picture up there, I know she was surrounded by the love of so many of her fellow brave childhood cancer warriors. May they all rest in peace and no longer feel the pain of this vicious disease.
Throughout Childhood Cancer Awareness Month there were so many other events and activities that we participated in, and we are so grateful to everyone who came together in support of Megan’s Mission to end childhood cancer. Although it was such a busy month, we are thankful that we were able to honor Megan’s life and legacy by continuing her mission to end the nightmare of childhood cancer that has impacted so many precious children and their devastated families. Through the Megan’s Mission Foundation, our family is committed to continuing to passionately pursue Megan’s dream of ending childhood cancer through advocacy and research. We will not stop until this nightmare ends!!! I think we made Megan proud.
September being Childhood Cancer Awareness month made for a very hectic, yet rewarding time, but our family also had another major life change that I firmly believe was guided by Megan’s continued influence on all of us. As readers of this blog know, our daughter Mackenzie has been living in the Madison, WI area for the past five-plus years going to school in pursuit of becoming a Speech and Language Pathologist. She has a strong desire to remain in that area because she loves everything the region has to offer…and over the years, Deb and I have grown to really like the area as well. The region has all the benefits of a large city, but in a matter of minutes you can be in the middle of the woods traversing trails or at the water’s edge of some of the most beautiful lakes you could ever find. After Megan’s passing, it has been difficult for Deb and I to be three hours away from Kenzi, and it has also been really hard on Kenzi as she deals with the awful grief of losing not only her sister, but her best friend and confidant.
Kenzi has so many friends at college, but when things were really difficult, she would always count on the support and wisdom of her sister to pull her through the toughest of times. Since Megan’s passing, there have been so many times when Kenzi has needed her sister, and not having her sister a FaceTime call away has been so hard for her. It has also been hard on us not having Kenzi close by as our family tries to heal from this devastating loss. Since Megan’s passing, Deb and I had planned to move to the Madison area in a year or so, but I think Megan had other plans for us.
Megan always loved vacationing in the north woods of Wisconsin because she loved the peace and tranquility of being in nature.
Our family had actually been looking for the perfect cabin in the woods that we could use as a vacation spot, and whenever Megan was feeling up to it, she would scan through Zillow looking for our dream location. After Megan’s passing, we put everything on hold, but in the back of our minds, we still knew that having our family close together was in our future. To make a long story short, by chance Deb happened to be looking at Zillow while we were up visiting Kenzi and she came across an eight acre cabin located on a lake in a beautiful setting…and the best part is that it was only 23 minutes from Kenzi’s apartment in Madison!!! The rest of the story contains so many coincidences that there is no way this happened by chance. This was absolutely Megan’s guiding hand leading us to this place where she knew the three of us could heal together. As a result, we ended up meeting the owners of the cabin, which resulted in us making an offer to them that they readily accepted. That meant spending the rest of September not only carrying forth Megan’s Mission, but also preparing to sell our beloved Coal City home and moving to our dream lakefront cabin in Lodi, Wisconsin.
We closed on our new home September 22 and spent our first night here on September 27. Since then, Kenzi has visited us every day and the three of us are feeling a peace and tranquility that we haven’t found since Megan was originally diagnosed with cancer on December 30, 2014. We are so grateful to our Coal City friends and supporters, as we absolutely loved that community and the home we made there for our family. The difficult thing about staying in our home was that Megan is what made that house a home, and without her, it was so painful to stay there. Every single thing in that home triggered a memory that made the grieving process too difficult and too painful. We still love everything about Coal City, but Megan knew that this move is what our family needed to finally heal and move forward like she would have wanted for us. The very first morning we were here, I know Megan sent this view out our backyard and these furry visitors to let us know that we could finally be at peace.
And then that same evening, just to reinforce her message, she sent us this incredible sunset to let us know that we were all going to be okay.
Although our family will never fully recover from losing our beautiful Megan, her guiding hand has led us to this beautiful healing place. It’s true that childhood cancer stole Megan from us far too soon, but that nasty disease will never be able to erase her life and legacy…nor can it ever diminish the impact she had and will continue to have on our lives. Our special girl now has a permanent spot on the wall in our sunroom where she will always overlook the serene view of peace and healing that she sent to us.
As her mother and I held Megan’s hands while she took her final breaths, we promised her two things. We assured her that we would take care of her sister, and we promised her that we would continue to carry her sword by fulfilling her mission of ending this terrible disease. We are absolutely committed to keeping those promises we made to Megan as we will continue fighting not only for our family, but for all kids and families who have been impacted by the nightmare of childhood cancer. However, I also believe that by Megan sending us to this special healing place, my girl was sending me a strong and meaningful message that I cannot ignore. I think she knows I will never quit fighting for her cause, but I believe she has been sending me strong signs that I need to turn a page in my life. I have so many things I want to do to honor Megan’s life and legacy, and I will continue to keep Team Megan updated through the Team Megan Facebook page, but this will be the final post I make to the Megan’s Journey blog site. It’s time to sign off.
For the past seven and a half years, it has been such an honor to chronicle Megan’s Journey through childhood cancer as what started as a simple way to communicate with family and friends morphed into a following of thousands of Team Megan supporters who became such an important source of inspiration as Megan courageously fought childhood cancer. I am also proud that this site became a source of information and inspiration for other families who were suddenly faced with the fear and uncertainty that accompany this awful disease. I have heard from so many who shared how Megan inspired them to fight the good fight against childhood cancer, and I know that would have made Megan so happy. I am so grateful to everyone who has not only followed Megan’s Journey, but supported Megan and our family as we traveled a path that I sincerely hope none of you ever have to walk. However, through this experience we have learned so much about the love and kindness in people’s hearts as our faith in the goodness of humanity has been reinforced over and over again. We are so grateful.
I have told many people who have followed Megan’s Journey that I was just the writer and Megan was the true author of this story. This was her story and her journey, and I hope you were as inspired by her love, courage, positivity and passion as I have been. I hope Megan’s story has both informed and inspired you regarding the travesty of childhood cancer and the lack of attention these kids receive from both the pharmaceutical industry and the Federal Government. They deserve so much better. I hope that the attention Megan brought to childhood cancer inspires you to continue the fight on her behalf…and on behalf of so many other sweet children who just want a glimmer of hope against this dreaded foe. I hope the way Megan lived her life with passion and purpose has inspired all of us to follow her lead and be about something bigger than ourselves. Most of all, I hope that the way Megan treated others with love, acceptance and respect has inspired you to do the same, because our world could definitely use a lot less judgement and a lot more tolerance. I think that would have made Megan happy.
I know Megan’s legacy will always live in my heart, and her wise guiding hand will continue to serve as my compass providing strength and guidance in my life. I miss her more than words could ever express, but am comforted by the amazing life and legacy she left in her powerful wake.
I hope you will continue to follow the updates on the Team Megan Facebook page, as this story is far from over. I promise you that this is not the final chapter of Megan’s fight to take down childhood cancer. From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of my family, I thank you all…and I know Megan is smiling down on all of you.