The Cancer Has a Name

We made the trip back to Lurie’s at Central DuPage Hospital today to support Megan as she starts her battle with cancer. The people here are just amazing,and I am so thankful that they make Megan feel so comfortable. I know I have said it before, but this is really an amazing place for kids.

My wife and I met with Dr. Hayani this morning.  He explained that Megan’s pathology reports came back, and her cancer now has a name.  She has “Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma“.  It is a cancer that starts in the soft tissues of the body.  Megan’s actually started with a tumor in her left forearm, and has now traveled to other parts of her body.  Cancer is cancer, but at least knowing exactly what type Megan is experiencing helped to bring some closure to the diagnosis, and now we can focus on her treatment.

During our meeting with Dr. Hayani, he thoroughly explained the intensive treatment program that Megan will be going through.  She will have 54 weeks of treatment along her road to recovery.  It is heartbreaking to hear that your child will be experiencing an entire year of chemo, and it took some time to get past that initial shock.  However, thanks to my wife, I understand that her chemo treatments represent hope and not heartache.  After meeting with Dr. Hayani, we all went in to discuss this with Megan.

Megan has amazed me throughout this entire experience.  This morning, Dr. Hayani told her that she would be undergoing a year’s worth of chemo, would lose her hair, and was told that she would not be able to attend school on a regular basis for the rest of this year.  Megan never shed a single tear.  She is so strong and ready for the battle ahead.

At 3:36 p.m. on 1/3/15, we watched Megan get her first chemotherapy treatment.  We are waiting to see if she has any side effects today.  She will receive a treatment each day for the next four days for a total of five treatments.  If all goes well, Megan will get to come home on Wednesday after her final treatment of this round.  She will then have to come back to Lurie’s once a week for the next two weeks before she checks back in for another five straight days of treatment.

As always, we have so many people to thank, and I know I always miss someone, but please don’t doubt our gratitude to the hundreds of people who have sent positive messages to Megan.  Seeing over 400 supportive comments on this blog from friends, family, community members, and even some people we have never met, has meant the world to Megan.  Knowing everyone is behind her has strengthened her resolve for the battle ahead.

Thank you to Deb’s cousin Sherry Henrichs for meeting us at Lurie’s this morning, and for Megan’s care package.  It is nice to have a medical professional in the family who can help us decipher the medical lingo.  She is a gem!!!

Thank you to Aunt Keely for taking Megan’s older sister, Kenzi, to stay with her today and tomorrow.  As our family travels this journey together, I can’t help but worry about Kenzi.  She is such an amazing and strong young lady, and I want to make sure she knows that her mom and I will be there for her throughout this process.  I love her more than words can express.

Thank you to Jack Micetich and Sherfy Browning for coming to see Megan last night.  They brought her a “Kim of Queens” sweatshirt, but instead put “Megan of Queens” on the front.  She absolutely loved it.

The battle officially began today, and Megan is committed to persevere. With the love and support of her family, friends, and community, she is ready to WIN!!!!!

Family Fun Before the Battle Begins

Tomorrow, 1/3/15, Megan officially begins her battle with cancer.  However, today, our family had an absolutely fantastic day.  Megan’s day started with a visit from her good friend Paityn Smith.  It was so nice of her to drop by and brighten Megan’s day.  After that, we all got ready for a trip to Chicago to see the musical “Newsies“.  Mackenzie and Megan both wanted to see that musical, so we got them tickets for Christmas.  With Megan’s illness, we were worried we would not be able to go, but thanks to the wonderful doctors at Lurie’s, we were able to attend the show at 2:00 p.m. today.  Mackenzie brought her boyfriend, Jon Vota, and Megan brought her good friend, Emma.  The show did not disappoint, and we had a great time.

After the musical, we all went to “Dick’s Last Resort” on Dearborn to eat.  It was a lot of fun!!!

When we got home, Megan had so many gifts from her friends that it covered our entire breakfast bar.  It made her feel so good to know that so many people are thinking of her.  As always, the Emerson family was there to support us with anything we needed.  They are really an amazing family, and we don’t know what we would do without them.

At about 10 p.m., everyone went home and Megan started to pack her things for the battle she is about to begin…AND WIN!!!  A touching moment took place right before she went to sleep.  She called both my wife and I into her room, because she said she needed to talk to us.  She told us both,

“When we are at the hospital, please don’t cry.”

I believe that was her way of telling us that she is ready for the fight, and that she is prepared to win.  She doesn’t see any reason to be sad, because she knows she is going to beat this!!!  She is really an amazing young lady, who is so much tougher than any of us gave her credit for.

We leave for the hospital at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, and Megan will have her first chemo treatment sometime on that same day.  We don’t know for sure when she will be back home, but what we have learned over the past few days is that we have an entire community pulling for her and supporting our family every step of the way.

Tomorrow starts Megan’s long march to victory!!!!

The Power of Friends and Family

We had a great day at home yesterday.  Grandma and Grandpa Bugg came by in the morning so we could have our family Christmas.  We had planned on celebrating Christmas with the Bugg side of the family on 12/28, but Megan’s illness meant we couldn’t go.  Both girls were excited that we could spend some time with Grandma and Grandpa and open some presents.  There is nothing more uplifting than the Christmas spirit.  We really appreciated them making the 3 hour trip to our house.

Megan was so appreciative that Toni Spencer took her to the hair salon to wash and cut her hair.  It was so nice of Toni to do that for her.  She felt like a new person when she got home.  Thanks Toni!!!!

Later that day, we received a visit from Megan’s former babysitter, Tami Hall and her friends Grace, Hannah, and their mom Jennifer.  Tami has been such an important of our girls’ lives, because she has been like a second mother to them. She is definitely one in a million!  Megan really enjoyed seeing all of them.

Also, Deb’s friend Wendy and two of her children (Janna and Caz) visited as well.  Deb always enjoys spending time with her best friend who has been there for her since they were neighbors growing up.

Megan’s good friend Emma, who lives across the street, came to see her.  Megan really enjoyed spending time with her.  Emma has been such a good friend.

One of the highlights of Megan’s day was when Vicky Ryan (Middle School Secretary) stopped by to see her and delivered a present from the middle school staff.  She got a warm, fuzzy robe, slippers and a blanket from Pink.  Megan absolutely loved it!!!  Thanks to Mrs. Ryan and the entire middle school staff!!!!

As always, our next door neighbors, the Emersons (Jeff, Kortni, Makenna & Madison), were there for us all day.  They visited, brought lots of food, and just checked up to see if we needed anything.  They are the absolute best!!!  We love them all!!!

It is amazing how friends and family can raise your spirits.  Many thanks to all of you for making yesterday such a special day!!!

The Journey Begins

My wife and I are the proud parents of two beautiful girls.FullSizeRender Mackenzie (on the right) is almost 16, and I could not be more proud of everything she has already accomplished in her life.  She is an excellent student; a varsity volleyball and basketball player; sings with the Madrigals; is a varsity speech member; and has a part in the upcoming high school musical production of “Beauty and the Beast.”  I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes in life, because the sky is the limit for her.  She is truly an amazing young lady.

My other daughter, Megan, is 13 and was really finding her niche as an 8th grader.  She was always involved in athletics as she was a member of the basketball team, and was a starting setter on the volleyball team in 6th and 7th grade.  However, as an 8th grader, she got a part in the middle school musical production of “High School Musical 2”, and she was hooked.  She loved every minute of it, and has really been looking forward to getting involved in the musical productions at the high school next year.  Megan is the sweetest, most innocent 8th grade girl you could ever meet.

On Christmas Day, 2014, our family’s world was turned upside down.  Our two wonderful neighbor girls, Makenna and Madison, had just made their traditional Christmas morning walk to our house and the four girls were comparing notes on Santa’s gifts.  That is when I happened to notice a bump on Megan’s left forearm.  I asked her about it, but did not want to press the issue since it was Christmas Day.

Later that day, we had family members over and Megan was strangely quiet and reserved.  She said she didn’t feel well, so I went up to her room with her to talk.  She shared with me that she thought the bump on her arm had been there for about 5 weeks, but she was scared to say anything about it.  I tried to reassure her, and she went to sleep for the night.

My wife and I made an appointment the next morning (Dec. 26) to see our pediatrician (Spomenka Jercinovic).  She examined Megan for a few minutes and then asked me to step into the next room to talk with her alone.  I will never forget what she told me…

“There is no easy way to say this, but I believe your daughter has cancer.”

She told me to immediately take her to Lurie Children’s Hospital within Central Dupage Hospital.  That meant I had to call my wife and tell her the type of news no parent ever wants to hear.  My wife and older daughter got in the car and met us at the hospital.  I will never forget that drive as long as I live.  My daughter was so scared that she just went to sleep for the entire trip.

December 26-30 were a blur as Megan endured four and a half hours of MRI’s (which was an absolutely awful experience!!!), blood tests, urine tests, CT scans,and x-rays.  My wife and I already knew the inevitable, and even though the doctors had not told her yet, I know that Megan knew as well.

On December 30 at about 10:00 a.m., the doctor told our 13 year old daughter that she had cancerous tumors growing throughout her body.  Megan cried a few tears, but I think she was already mentally prepared for that news.

Thankfully, we were able to bring her home on December 31 and we do not have to be back at the hospital to begin chemo treatments until Saturday, January 3.

We are going to help Megan fight the good fight, and do everything we can to battle this terrible and senseless disease.  Megan’s journey will be documented in many posts to come.

If you are reading this and have children of your own, please give them a hug and tell them how much you love them.  There is nothing more precious than a child.