Fighting cancer is a 24/7 x 7 days/wk all-consuming job. During the battle, it’s hard to ever get away from the grind, because it seems that cancer is constantly attacking both your mental and physical well-being. There are is no daily quitting time for cancer; there is not a weekend for cancer; and there is no such thing as a vacation from cancer. Cancer is always there, which is why fighting it is so utterly exhausting for its victims…and their families.
It is because of cancer’s ever-present grip that our family has learned to live life just a little more spontaneously. We have also learned to better appreciate the little joys in life. We have learned to live by one of our new family motto’s…
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
This upcoming week, Megan is going to be doing a lot of dancing while still dealing with the constant struggles and curveballs cancer continues to throw at her. But first, a quick review of last week.
On Monday, Megan checked into the CDH clinic at 8:15 a.m. for her first treatment of Round #11. She was supposed to have her first treatment of this round the week prior, but her white counts were too low, which was a sign her body needed a break. This week, her white counts were still a little low, but they were high enough to accept the chemo treatments. Once we got checked into her hospital room, her nurse got fluids started while she waited for her hydration level to get high enough to start the chemo. By 11:00 a.m., her first of three chemo treatments started. Over the past three years, Megan has done this enough times to know that she needs to keep herself busy during those times she is not sleeping off the effects of the chemo and the accompanying medications. She was pretty excited when the child-life specialist came in to let her know that the therapy ponies were visiting the hospital on that day. Megan loves just about any type of animal, so she eagerly anticipating the visit from the ponies. Here are a couple pictures of Megan with two of the therapy animals. She really enjoyed their visit. If you have ever doubted the effectiveness of therapy animals, you should come to the pediatric floor of a hospital and witness it for yourself.
After the visit from the ponies, Megan was still looking to occupy some time prior to the Benadryl kicking in and putting her to sleep for a few hours. Over the past year, Megan has become very interested in everything surrounding cosmetic make-up. She watches Youtube videos, websites, and just about anything she can get her hands on regarding the subject. A recent post Megan put out on Twitter sums up why make-up has become an important hobby for her.
I love makeup so much. It’s makes me forget about everything and makes me feel beautiful for once in my life.
For the first time during a hospital visit, Megan decided to bring her make-up to give her something to do at the hospital. It definitely passed at least an hour of time for her, which is truly a blessing when you are in the hospital receiving three different chemotherapy drugs.
Fortunately, Megan handled her chemo treatments like a champ and we were able to come home last Monday night. Since Megan has now had 31 weeks of chemotherapy, her body is really getting run down. She is so tired and weak, which means it takes her longer and longer to recover following her treatments. She slept most of the day on Tuesday, which is the norm after this first treatment of a new cycle. She planned on trying to go to school on Wednesday, but once she started getting ready, she felt awful and just didn’t have the energy. On Thursday, she attempted to go to school, but could not stay very long. On Friday, she had to make the difficult decision to go see her counselor to discuss dropping some of her classes. Megan had grand plans to be a full-time student this semester, so she took a full load of classes. However, due to her treatments and related complications such as illness and low blood counts, she has missed so much school. She is so far behind, and at this point in her treatment, the stress of trying to catch up is just more than she can handle, both mentally and physically. As Deb and I continue to tell her, school will always be there once she finally kicks cancer to the curb once and for all. Right now, her focus has to be on her health, which means she has to listen to her body and rid herself of unnecessary stresses. When fighting cancer, you are forced to completely reassess your priorities.
The weekend could not have come at a better time for her as she has been sleeping a lot to get recovered prior to heading back to the hospital for this Monday’s treatment, and nothing helps her relax more than her beloved pets. Here she is getting a little loving from Ophie.
Besides her upcoming treatment, Megan needs to get rested up because she has quite a weekend ahead of her!
On Tuesday, the Coal City Lady Coaler volleyball team will be holding their third annual “Team Megan Night” fundraiser. The Coalers play the Wilmington Wildcats on Tuesday evening with the sophomore game starting at 5:00 p.m. and the varsity game to follow. Prior to the game, there will be raffles, a bake sale, and various other fundraisers to raise money for childhood cancer research in Megan’s name. Megan is also really excited because her sister Kenzi is making a special trip home from Wisconsin to be there for the game. Also, many of Kenzi’s volleyball teammates from last year are also coming home to show support for both Megan and Kenzi. We are all looking forward to Kenzi being home even if it is only for such a short period of time. To make the event even more special, a representative from Ivory Ella is coming to stay at our house and attend the game!!! Megan is so excited about that!!! Ivory Ella also kindly donated the childhood cancer awareness shirt that Megan designed to every member of the varsity volleyball team, which they will be wearing as their warm-up shirts for the game. If you plan on attending Tuesday night’s event and have an Ivory Ella childhood cancer shirt, I know Megan would love it if you wore it to the game. Megan and our family are so appreciate of Coach McMurtrey and the entire Coaler volleyball team for sponsoring and supporting this event. Raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer has become a passion for Megan, so she is very excited for this event. We sincerely hope she can recover well enough from Monday’s treatment to be able to make it to the CCHS gym and attend this event in her honor for at least a couple of hours.
This is Homecoming Week at CCHS, and as readers of this blog know, Megan was asked to the Homecoming dance by a very kind young man in her class, Alex Friddle. Megan has her Homecoming dress and is ready to go. After her initial treatment of a new round, it usually takes until day #9 for her counts to drop to their lowest point, which is when she usually feels her worst. Day #9 would fall on Wednesday of this week, so we are so hopeful that cancer doesn’t take the Homecoming dance away from her. I know Megan will be doing everything in her power to participate in this important high school right of passage. I can’t wait to see her in her Homecoming dress!!!
To cap off a huge week, Megan will also be participating as the Grand Marshal of the Grundy County Corn Festival parade, which starts at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. We were all shocked when representatives of the Corn Festival called Megan to ask if she would serve as the Grand Marshal. If you are not familiar with this event, it is far and away the largest festival and parade in our county. Megan was humbled by the honor, and the first words out of her mouth were that she wanted to use the honor as a platform to raise awareness for childhood cancer. You can read about Megan’s amazing honor in this article published in the Morris Daily Herald.
Obviously, this will be a very big week for Megan, and we are hopeful that cancer allows her to participate in all of it. However, the reality is that cancer won’t “allow” Megan to do anything. Instead, Megan will have to overcome everything cancer throws at her this week, but I am confident that her positive attitude and determination coupled with the incredible support of everyone on “Team Megan” will allow her to come out on top this week.
It will be a very exciting week for Megan, but that doesn’t change the harsh realities that come to those kids and their families who continue to be impacted by the cruelty of childhood cancer. September is not over yet, which means you still have time to show your support for all of the kids who are fighting this viscous disease. More importantly, your support may make it possible for that blessed day to come when no more children have to deal with the horrors of childhood cancer. There are so many ways you can show your support, and with so little Federal dollars being allocated to childhood cancer in comparison to other types of cancer, every dollar counts. #gogold
Throughout this journey, I continue to make contact with parents all over the world who are devastated to learn that their children have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer. Early in Megan’s treatment, her first connection was with Kasey Harvey from San Diego. Kasey has always served as an important source of inspiration for Megan, because she has now been in remission for two years. However, her two year scans showed some irregularities which caused her medical team to conduct further testing. Upon hearing the news, Megan was so worried about her. We are so happy to report that Kasey’s scans came back clear and she is still in remission!!! Go Kasey!!!
For every Kasey Harvey success story, there is an Isaiah. I recently connected with Isaiah’s mom, which is where I learned about the two tumors that were discovered in Isaiah’s neck. One of the tumors is wrapped around his spinal cord, and during the course of his radiation treatments, the other tumor actually grew in size. Isaiah’s parents are now faced with the agonizing decision of whether to try radiation again, but risk allowing the tumors to continue growing; start radiation not knowing if it will be successful; or risk a surgery to remove the tumors that could leave their son paralyzed. By the way…Isaiah is only 9 years old. Yes…childhood cancer is very real and these kids and their families deserve more support than they are getting. When you listen to Isaiah’s story, doesn’t it make you question how our Federal government can only allocate 4% of cancer research funding to our children? I just don’t get it…and yes…it makes me angry!!! Please keep Isaiah and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Megan continues to fight with everything she’s got…not only for herself, but for Isaiah, Sophie, little Ellie, and all of the other kids who are in this brave fight with her. She also continues to fight for the brave souls who have lost their battles like Megan’s special friend Mia and Natalie, who serve as important sources of inspiration to Megan. As Megan continues to advocate for the need for more funding for childhood cancer research, I will end this post with a recent Instagram post Megan wrote pleading for more to be done to save our kids.
This was my best friend Mia. Both Mia and I were fighting stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. Mia had relapsed and was on hospice. I drove 7 hours from Illinois to Kansas to meet her and 2 days after I had met her she passed away. I was devastated. I didn’t go to school for days constantly sobbing and mad at the world. This is our faults for letting children die because everyone is just watching it and not doing anything about it! You might think differently if you or your child gets diagnosed. Don’t wait for someone you know to get childhood cancer. Make a difference now so that we can find a cure! I love you so much Mia and I can’t believe it has been 8 months. I hope heaven is treating you well my angel. I am forever a better person because of Mia and now, she is gone. #hatecancer #morethan4 #childhoodcancerawareness #duckprints