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!!!
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!!!
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.
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!
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.
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…