As I’ve said many times before, going through a life changing event like watching your child fight Stage 4 cancer for the past four years causes you to change your outlook on life. You no longer take life’s beautiful moments for granted. You also treasure family and friends that much more. As we just finished our annual Super Bowl get together, I now have a moment to reflect on the week, and what keeps coming to mind are those beautiful moments with family and friends.
Kenzi’s birthday kicked off this past week. It’s so hard to believe that she is now 20 years old! She was in Madison, WI for her birthday, but that didn’t stop us from FaceTiming her multiple times throughout the day to wish her a happy birthday. Given all that our family has been through over the past four years, we could not be more proud of Kenzi and all that she has accomplished. Sometimes, the forgotten victims of cancer are the siblings. A sibling being forced to watch their sister or brother fight this dreaded disease is so hard, because oftentimes they really don’t know how to feel. In these situations, the siblings tend to wander between feeling sorry for their brother/sister and feeling guilty about being healthy. We are fortunate because Kenzi has been able to balance her life pretty well, and Megan has been supportive of her doing so. When Megan was first diagnosed, Kenzi was a 15 year old sophomore in high school. To think that she is now 20 and a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin accomplishing such great things is really incredible. Happy Birthday Kenzi!!!
Megan continues to be as motivated as ever to reclaim her life from cancer. As I mentioned last week, now that she has finished her high school classes, she is working hard on her physical and mental health. She has really been taking control of her diet as she has become a vegetarian and really watches the types of foods she is eating. She is also spending time every day on the stationary bike and the treadmill. This weekend, she walked for 30 minutes on the treadmill without stopping! For many, that might not sound like much, but when you consider that even a year ago, walking 10 minutes was exhausting. The incredible thing about Megan is that she never seems to feel sorry for herself, and given all that she has been through, she would definitely be entitled to such feelings. Instead, Megan still wakes up with a smile on her face thankful that she is where she is in her life. Her outlook on life is still so positive, which I firmly believe has been instrumental in her beating back cancer. We could all take a lesson from her positivity.
This weekend was very exciting around our house because Kenzi and two of her best friends from college. Ellyn and Bridget, came home to stay with us this weekend. Since she couldn’t be with us for her birthday on Monday, we waited until she came home for her birthday celebration. On Friday night we all went to Kenzi’s favorite restaurant, Aodake in Romeoville. We had such a good time, and the food was amazing.
When we got home from the restaurant, we had a special funfetti cheesecake that Megan made for Kenzi by request. It was awesome!!!
On Saturday night, Kenzi and her friends Ellyn and Bridget went shopping in Joliet and then just hung out for the rest of the day. That night, Makenna Emerson stopped over to give Kenzi her birthday present and then the crew had a big game night 🙂
On Sunday, we had our traditional Super Bowl party with Uncle Todd, Gina, and Cousin Danny. Of course, we always have a few other friends drop in and out, which makes for a very fun evening. Since the actual game was pretty boring this year, the star of the show was the food. This year, we had a taco/nacho bar, which really hit the spot. Megan also made her special raspberry-filled white chocolate cupcakes, which are to die for!!! Here she is getting them ready and with the final product.
A couple of Megan’s friends, Sophia and Madison stopped over before they had to leave for a choreography rehearsal for the upcoming high school musical production of Tuck Everlasting.
Also, here is a picture of the entire crew at the Super Bowl party.
Kenzi and her friends are leaving at 6 a.m. Monday morning to make the three hour drive back to Madison in time for their classes. We are so glad they were here for the weekend!
Megan seems to be getting stronger by the day as she continues to fight back with everything she’s got. She doesn’t have to go back to CDH for a physical exam and blood test until February 18. Following that, she will have a CT and PET scan on March 11 which will determine if the proton radiation did it’s job to treat the tumor in her chest. The PET scan will also verify that she has no more cancerous activity in her body. Until then, I know Megan is so determined to regain her strength and take back the life that cancer so unceremoniously tried to take from her.
When Megan started this battle on December 26, 2014, we all knew the odds were overwhelmingly against her. Stage 4 ARMS is one of the toughest forms of childhood cancer, and one of the types of pediatric cancer that has seen very little success in terms of new and effective treatments. I have written many time in this blog about the lack of funding for childhood cancer research, so I won’t belabor the point yet again…but when our country is experiencing the same survival rates for stage 4 ARMS that we did 50 years ago, something is very wrong!!! (I will have much more on this in a later post) However, the odds never mattered to Megan, because if you ask her today, she will tell you that she always knew she was going to win. Her determination and optimism have never wavered. No matter how bad things got…and there were some very dark times…her confidence never diminished. And over four years later, she is still fighting with the same ferocity she possessed on day one of this journey. Sooner or later cancer is going to learn that you can’t beat someone who refuses to quit!
Until next week…