Breaking the Grasp

Childhood cancer’s grip is incredibly powerful.  For the past five years, Megan has been fighting so hard to break free from cancer’s evil grip.  There have been times when Megan has come so close to realizing freedom only to have cancer tighten its grip even further.  It’s almost as if cancer toys with its victims to give them a false sense of security before rudely reminding them of its omnipresence.  It seems like fighting cancer is a cycle of diagnosis, treatment, and remission that repeats itself over and over again.  Cancer’s hope is that eventually it’s victims will finally tire of the battle and succumb to cancer’s vicious grasp.  Even though Megan has been through this arduous cycle four different times…somehow, not only has she maintained her desire to win, but with each relapse, her determination has grown even stronger.  Sooner or later, Megan’s will to win will allow her to break free from cancer’s grasp once and for all.  In the meantime, with a fierce resolve, she continues to valiantly battle back from whatever adversity is thrown at her…including her most recent setback.

Two weeks ago today, Megan had two surgeries to remove gallstones from her bile duct and to remove her gallbladder.  We happened to be on vacation in Los Angeles at the time until Megan’s trip was rudely interrupted with severe abdominal pain.  It took four days of tests and excruciating pain before the medical team at Cedar-Sinai Hospital determined that surgery was required.  Her hospital stay turned a four day trip to LA into an 11 day excursion…six of which were spent in the hospital.  Since she got home, she has been getting better day by day…with the help of her furry friends.

Of course, she is not recovering as fast as she thinks she should, but we keep reminding her that her body was already ravaged from finishing chemotherapy only two months ago, and she just had two surgical procedures.  It is going to take some time for her to recover, but she is getting there little by little.  This latest setback was just another example of that roller coaster ride that defines fighting childhood cancer.  Just two months ago we were on a high because Megan was declared in remission and would no longer have to undergo chemotherapy.  Her most recent medical issues brought us right back down again, but we are in the process of following Megan’s lead and fighting our way back.  In this battle, you can never let the tough times outshine all of those beautiful moments that continually present themselves each and every day.

On Thursday, Megan went to the CDH clinic to see Dr. Hayani for her monthly blood work and physical exam.  Thankfully, her blood work showed no indicators of cancer, and after Dr. Hayani’s thorough physical exam, he gave her the all clear for another month!!!  She does not have to go back until her next set of scans, which are on February 17 and 18.  Megan is always a little stressed going for her monthly exam, but the kindness of all of the awesome medical professionals there make her feel so much better.  It really is a very special place for all the brave kids fighting childhood cancer.

While we were at the clinic, Dr. Malandra (her GI doctor) stopped over to see her.  He also ran some blood work which showed some signs of pancreatitis and some elevated liver enzymes, but he said it was not unexpected given the trauma she experienced and her two surgical procedures.  She is going to repeat the blood tests in one week, and he fully expects her numbers to trend towards the normal range.  In the meantime, Megan will continue to experience some discomfort in her abdomen, but at least it is manageable.

Since Megan has been feeling better with each passing day, she was able to get out of the house this week.  She went to work at Broadway Dance Studio for a couple hours on Wednesday and Thursday night, which always brightens her spirits.  On Saturday, she and her mom went to a cat shelter to bring supplies and a monetary donation.  As all “Team Megan” members know, Megan is a huge animal lover, and she has a special soft spot for cats.  The “Just Animals Shelter” located at 505 Depot Street in Mazon, Illinois does a tremendous service in taking care of cats and finding adoptive homes for them.  Megan loves to support the shelter, and she really enjoys spending time with the roughly 40 cats they have at any one time.  She said that last year the shelter found homes for almost 500 cats, which is really incredible!  If you live anywhere close to Mazon and you are looking for a loving pet, you should stop by and check out the wonderful work they do.  Tell them Megan sent you 🙂

The fun continued for us on Sunday as we drove to Rockford to meet Kenzi for lunch and some shopping.  Rockford is only a little over an hour drive for Kenzi and it’s less than two hours for us, so meeting at the CherryVale Mall is perfect for us.  Kenzi has only been back at school for a week, but we already miss her, so it was great to have an opportunity to get the girls together before Kenzi starts classes this coming Tuesday.  It was a little easier saying goodbye to Kenzi knowing she would be home in a couple weeks for our annual Super Bowl party 🙂


There is no doubt that cancer’s grasp is both evil and incredibly strong.  In this battle, you must be able to navigate the tough times without becoming distracted or discouraged and taking your eye off the ultimate prize.  Words cannot express how hard it must be to stay motivated when cancer just keeps coming at you with a relentless barrage of mental and physical blows.  I really have no idea how Megan does it, but she just keeps moving forward day after day after day…all the while somehow keeping that infectious smile on her face.  The world would be a much better place if we all shared Megan’s outlook on life.  Until next week…


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Megan is my beautiful 14 year old daughter who is currently fighting Stage 4 cancer. This is the story of her journey as told by her father.

12 thoughts on “Breaking the Grasp”

    1. Way to go Megan! My prayers are with you. I made the journey through breast cancer a couple of years back. So far I’m still good. But I agree with you……cats are the best therapy! I have 2, and one of them stayed by my side all the time! Either following me from room to room or sleeping by my side when I would sit down or go to bed.
      I admire your courage and your “can do” attitude.
      Always here for prayers for you sweet Megan.


  1. Sending much love to you Megan, from
    Rockord :). Fun to hear that u were here—- blessings to u as u continue to recover from your surgery. Sending u strength and sunshine today and always. ☀️☀️


  2. Very glad to see her smiling again, and doing some things she enjoys. Keep looking at the glass half full so you can find joy in each day‼️♥️


  3. Megan never ceases to amaze and inspire. I am sure it s not easy but her will and determination to keep donating her time to worthy causes and accomplishing so much with her family and friends make her a special star in my book!💕


  4. January 20, 2020
    Megan, as your Dad wrote; “The world would be a much better place if we all shared Megan’s outlook on life”, you are a big help in boosting my outlook on life.
    Smiles to you,
    Dr. Charles W. Birch, Morris, Illinois


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