It has now been 698 days since Megan was first diagnosed with stage 4 aveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. On January 25, 2016, Megan officially crossed the finish line as she completed her 54 week chemotherapy/radiation protocol and her doctors finally declared her cancer to be in remission. That was definitely a momentous occasion worthy of celebration as reaching remission was a testament to Megan’s incredible will to win. Although we are all thankful that Megan won her battle, life as a cancer survivor has presented challenges that none of us expected. The “scanxiety” than accompanies each three month scan is a brutal mental experience for Megan and our family. She is still learning to cope with the fear that comes with every headache, bump, bruise, cough or fever. For the past couple of months, bouts of dizziness had gotten to the point that everyday activities were becoming very difficult for Megan. After numerous tests and doctors, she finally found some relief over the Thanksgiving holiday with medication for hormone therapy. Although she still seems to get more headaches than she should, the extreme dizziness seems to have been mitigated with the new medication. As a result, Megan has been able to get out of the house more without the fear, trepidation and anxiety attacks she had been experiencing. It still seems like she should be feeling better than she does, but the last two weeks have definitely been a step in the right direction.
We originally discovered Megan’s tumor on Christmas Day, 2014. Prior to that, she had been involved in 8th grade basketball and had just started her next volleyball season. Although she tolerated athletics, sports was definitely not her primary interest. In October, 2014, Megan participated in the middle school musical production of “High School Musical 2”. It was that experience that hooked her on the theater. To this day, she would tell you that was the most fun she had ever had in school. Unfortunately, Megan’s illness and treatment kept her from participating in anything on stage for the past nearly two years. On Thursday, Megan made her first appearance back on stage, which to me seemed like a momentous event. Megan signed up to take chorus this year at the high school, and on Thursday, they held their winter concert. Megan was nervous about it, but we were so proud of her for getting through it with a smile on her face. It was really emotional for me to see her back on stage again. Hopefully, it was the first of many times we will get to watch her perform over the next couple years. The chorus sang their first two songs in the aisle of the auditorium, and since Megan told me right where she would be, I was able to get a couple pictures of her singing.
Following the two songs in the aisle, the chorus then went on stage for their final few songs. Because of the lighting in the auditorium, it was hard to get a good picture, so this is the best I have😦
Megan was also happy that Makenna Emerson made the drive back from college to watch her perform. Makenna always makes Megan smile.
Thursday night was a busy one for Deb and I because not only was Megan singing in the auditorium, but Kenzi was playing a basketball game in our high school gym, which is only a few steps away. As a result, Deb and I kept going back and forth between the concert and the game so one of us was always there to support each of our girls. I’m happy to report that Kenzi’s team won as she scored 12 points in the victory. It was a great night for our family.
On Saturday, Megan wanted to go to Reed-Custer High School to watch her friend, Katelynn, perform with the CCHS Cheerleaders in a competition. Megan was happy when our cheerleading team team took 3rd place. Following the event, Katelynn came over and spent the night at our house. Here is a picture of Megan and Katelynn immediately following the competition.
On Saturday, Kenzi and the CCHS Madrigal singers performed at the “Festival of Trees”, which is an annual event sponsored by the CCHS Promfest Committee. As always, the Madrigals sounded amazing as they serenaded everyone with a variety of holiday songs. This coming weekend is their annual Madrigal Holiday Dinner and Performance, so it will be a very busy week for Kenzi, because not only does she have three performances, but she also has three basketball games. Somehow, she has to get to her basketball games and rehearsals this week, which will be a challenge. I don’t know how she gets it all done, but she seems to thrive the busier she is. Here is a picture of Megan, Kenzi and Kenzi’s good friend Leah, which I took right before the performance.
Here are a couple more pictures of Kenzi performing today.
During Megan’s treatment, she spent a lot of time in physical therapy to try and combat her chemo-induced foot drop. The people at ATI Physical Therapy in Morris were so wonderful and supportive to her. Megan hasn’t been there in a couple months, so it was a welcome surprise when she opened the mail on Thursday and received a card signed by everyone at ATI. Megan said she had a tear in her eye as she read the positive comments from everyone at ATI. Here is a picture of her holding her card. Thanks to all of the fantastic people at ATI in Morris!
This week was better than the last for Megan, which was also better than the week before that. We are so hopeful the positive trend continues and Megan can keep finding relief from her dizziness and accompanying panic attacks that virtually debilitated her for a few weeks. We have watched her navigate her way through more trials and tribulations than any teenage girl should ever have to experience. Although there are some ups and downs, Megan always seems to find a way. As a survivor, cancer never lets it’s victims completely forget its potential to create mayhem. On December 12, Megan goes to CDH for her next three month CT scan and then on December 16, she receives an MRI on her brain and orbits. Hopefully, we receive good news by Monday, December 19 so we can all have a very happy Christmas season. The week of December 12 will be a tough one for Megan, but hopefully it will all be worth it when she gets the news that her cancer is still in remission.
During her stressful times, there is still nothing better than her pets at providing relief. In fact, even Kenzi likes to use the pets as an escape from the everyday grind. I can’t say that I always find our two dogs and two cats to be relaxing, but I’m sure glad we have them for the girls.
Until next week…