As our country continues down this unprecedented pandemic path, everyone is learning to deal with the new norm of social distancing. This seems to be yet another chapter in what has definitely been an interesting 5+ years for Megan and our family. Megan was originally diagnosed with stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma on December 30, 2014 when she was just 13 years old. When she was just six months into her 54 week initial chemotherapy/radiation treatment, our house was hit by an EF3 tornado. I will never forget looking at the devastation of our house and community, yet knowing that we had to have Megan in Warrenville the next morning for her proton radiation treatment. It took us three months to get back into our house, but we were some of the lucky ones, because other homes were so badly damaged that it took a full year before they could move back home. Megan’s first relapse was in February, 2017, which required her to go through another 36 weeks of intense chemotherapy and more proton radiation. In August, 2017, we adjusted to Kenzi heading off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for college, which was a huge change for Megan and our family. In 2018, Megan’s scans showed another area on her back that was concerning, so she went through even more proton radiation. In April, 2019, Megan relapsed again and underwent 24 weeks of an experimental chemotherapy treatment that proved successful in treating her tumors. She was supposed to receive 32 weeks of treatment, but the chemotherapy caused so much damage to her lungs that her doctors abandoned that treatment plan. Megan’s last scans were clear, which was the best news ever! However, now we are making the best of the “Stay at Home” order, which based on what the President said today, looks like it will probably be extended until at least May 1. It’s definitely been an eventful 5+ years in the Bugg home…but through it all, we still consider ourselves so fortunate for so many reasons.
We are blessed because Megan is once again in remission! She continues to fight cancer with everything she’s got as she absolutely refuses to give in to the evil beast. She has defied all of the odds in proving her own personal belief that the statistics don’t mean anything. Megan doesn’t even bother with the statistics, because she says that she’s not a number. A number does not take into account a person’s internal desire to win at all costs, and Megan’s will to win is second to none. She continues to serve as a source of inspiration to me personally, and to so many who know her.
We are blessed because “Megan’s Journey” has taught us that there is so much good in this world. When Megan was initially diagnosed, our family was in shock. However, we quickly learned the sense of community that exists in our small town. We were overwhelmed with the love and support Megan and our family received from the people who made up what became known as “Team Megan”. This Team has not only become a powerful force, but it consists of the most compassionate, caring people around. We are so grateful to everyone on “Team Megan” as you have been an integral part of Megan’s recovery.
We are blessed because Megan’s illness has reinforced the importance of family. Prior to Megan becoming ill, we were all so busy that we often missed those beautiful moments that every family experiences, but is likely to miss if your not paying attention. We learned not to take a single moment with our family for granted, because you just never know what life will throw at you next. We have been forced to cancel numerous vacations due to Megan relapsing, but that just makes us appreciate our vacations that much more. There are so many other examples of family events that have now taken on a whole new meaning for us. This whole pandemic is troubling, but the silver lining for us is that because Kenzi’s college cancelled in-person classes, our family is together again for the foreseeable future. Given that Kenzi is completing her junior year of college, this was an unexpected, but treasured, surprise. Experiencing the quality time we have been able to spend together over the past couple of weeks is something I will always remember.
We are also blessed because Megan has taught us the importance of standing up for something bigger than yourself. In today’s world, it is so easy to become so completely self-absorbed in our own problems that we forget about the greater good. In the midst of Megan fighting for her life, she decided to be about something bigger than herself. She decided that she would no longer just fight her own personal battle, but she was going to fight the battle for every single kid who is fighting childhood cancer. While fighting her own battle, she took to the local, state, and even the national stage to spread the word that kids fighting cancer deserve so much more. She took her battle cry of “More Than 4” across the country via social media, politicians, national clothing chains, and even to Washington D.C. Sure…our family has had our share of mountains to climb, but those trials and tribulations have taught us the importance of compassion and caring. There is always someone out there who has it worse than you, so don’t just be thankful for what you have, go find that person who needs your help.
I have no doubt that living through this pandemic will present yet more valuable lessons for our family. In the meantime, we are going to continue making the best out of a tough situation, and I hope all of you are able to do the same. Here are a few pictures from our “Stay at Home” week.
Until next week…