This past week was a huge one for Megan. She successfully navigated her “scanxiety” last weekend in preparation for her CT and MRI scans on Monday and Tuesday. Megan had not had any scans since her last chemotherapy treatment in November, 2019. During her gall bladder issue on New Year’s, she did receive an abdomen CT while she was hospitalized in Los Angeles, which was clear. However, she has not had any further scans on her chest or brain, so obviously, she was concerned. Although she has been feeling good and displaying no symptoms of cancer, that fear is always present. Unfortunately, it’s a reality that all childhood cancer survivors deal with every three months. I can’t wait for the day that our country finally prioritizes childhood cancer and commits to saving 1800 young lives per year, but until then, “scanxiety” is the harsh reality for all of these brave warriors.
On Monday morning, we had to be at the CDH clinic at 8:00 a.m. to get Megan’s port accessed. She has had the same port in her chest since she was first diagnosed as a 13 year old, and it is what her medical team uses to get blood samples and to administer medications like chemotherapy. When she gets a chest CT, they use the port to inject the contrast. The problem is that since Megan is now older, her chest port is a little harder to access…especially if a nurse is not used to accessing such ports. Unfortunately, when someone has trouble accessing her port, it is quite painful. Luckily, the awesome nurses at the CDH clinic are experts at accessing ports because they do it all day long, and because they are so kind, they always offer to have Megan stop by early prior to her scans so they can access her port without worry. As soon as she was accessed, we walked to Diagnostic Imaging to get her chest CT. It only took about 15 minutes for her to complete her scan, and then it was back to the CDH clinic for a physical exam from her oncologist. As usual, Megan had lots of questions, and as usual, her oncologist took all the time she needed to get her questions answered. Thankfully, he gave her a good report and all that was left was waiting for the results. Of course, before we left, Deb and Megan got in a quick game of ping pong 🙂
While Megan was at the clinic, she brought the care bags that she made for all of the female teenage cancer patients. Megan is so appreciative of everyone who donated so she could complete these bags for all of these brave cancer patients. As Megan so painfully knows, sometimes receiving a gift like this can brighten the darkest of days. Here is a picture of Megan after she donated the bags to Allie, who is the Child Life Specialist at the clinic.
At about 2:00 p.m., Dr. Kar called to let us know that Megan’s chest CT showed no changes from her previous CT, which was the best news ever!!! Megan was so relieved because the chest CT is always the one she is worried about as most of her relapse tumors have showed up through that scan. She was feeling much better, but she knew she still had the brain MRI awaiting her on Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, we woke Megan up at 4:00 a.m. because we had to be back to CDH to check in for her MRI at 5:30 a.m. Since Megan still suffers from claustrophobia when getting a brain MRI, they still put her under anesthesia for this procedure. I guess it’s actually unfortunate that Megan has been through this so many times, but on the positive side, when she shows up at the West Surgery center, everyone knows her. Every person from the receptionist, to the nurses, and especially the anesthesiologist knows who she is and greets her with an enthusiastic hello. Megan has actually become quite close with her anesthesiologist, Dr. DeGraca, who is one of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met. At her last three month MRI, he wore Megan’s Ivory Ella childhood cancer shirt that she designed. When Megan was hospitalized in LA, we texted him regarding her anesthesia and he immediately responded every time. This time, Megan made him homemade frosted brownies as a thank you, and they sat and talked for a good 15 minutes prior to the procedure. We are so fortunate that everyone on Megan’s CDH medical team is so fantastic.
Megan went back for her MRI at bout 7:15 a.m. and as you can see, she was still doing her word search puzzles to keep her mind off the MRI results.
At about 9:45 a.m. I got called back to see her and although she was tired, she still gave me that infectious smile to let me know she was okay before falling back to sleep. We left the hospital at about 11:30 a.m. and headed home to wait for results. Since her brain MRI was so early in the morning, we were holding out hope that results would come prior to the end of the day. It’s really tough for any of us to get a good night’s sleep when we are awaiting Megan’s scan results. Thankfully, at about 4:00 p.m., Nurse Jenny called to let us know the doctors had reviewed her MRI and it was all clear!!! We received those four magic words that all cancer patients crave…NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE!!!
When I told Megan the good news, you could see the relief immediately come over her. Then she said she was tired and was going to sleep. We didn’t hear from her again for three hours! She was obviously mentally exhausted.
Following the good news we received on Monday and Tuesday, Megan was a different person for the rest of the week. She was scheduling trips to Starbucks with her friends; went out for supper with her friend after working at the dance studio; drove to Joliet to meet her friend from Naperville; and on Sunday, she wanted to take advantage of the weather and be outside. She decided she wanted to go to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. We drive by it every time we travel to the hospital, but we have never visited. Although there were obviously no trees in bloom, it was still beautiful to walk outside around the water and search for the trolls. One of the most telling signs that Megan is getting better is that she walked about a mile and half today, and although she was really tired, she was proud that she did it. To think that just a month and a half ago, she couldn’t walk any distance at all without her wheelchair. Considering how beat up her body has been over the past five years, the progress she is making is astounding. Of course, her determination to get better has a lot to do with that.
This was a very good week for Megan and her recovery. We could never thank everyone on “Team Megan” enough for your kind thoughts and prayers for her. I know for a fact that Megan feels your support and it means the world to her. We know the battle is not over, but this round definitely goes to Megan. Sooner or later, cancer needs to throw in the towel because this warrior is never going to quit.
“Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”