Finally…Some Relief

The previous two days of Megan’s recovery from stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer have been pretty rough on her.  She has been fighting two days of severe nausea, soreness and fatigue caused by her recent five-day chemo cycle.  However, Day 31 finally started to provide some welcome relief for her.  Although she woke up with a stomach ache, it didn’t stop her from requesting that I make biscuits and gravy at 6:00 a.m.  By the way, I found out that the smell of fresh biscuits is a quick way to get Mackenzie out of bed on a snow day!!!  Kenzi was so happy when she went to bed last night because she didn’t have to get up early, but at 6:45 a.m. the smell of biscuits baking had her downstairs.  I’m going to have to remember that motivation!!!

Megan ate an entire biscuit and some sausage gravy.  Although she didn’t feel great, we could tell she was better than yesterday.  Since Deb’s school had a snow day today, I was able to go to work and try and catch up at the office.  When I came home for lunch, it was obvious Megan was feeling better.  She was downstairs on the couch, which is always a positive sign.  She ate some lunch and seemed pretty good.

At about 2:00 p.m., Megan and her mom opened her cards that came from her “Team Megan” supporters.  This continues to be such a highlight of her day because it lets her know that she has the support of “Team Megan” every step of this journey.  Opening the cards and letters also takes her mind off of things for awhile each day, which is a welcome relief.

20150202_175827-1A few days ago, Megan received a very special gift from a friend of ours, Dave Wiers.  Dave had heard that Megan was a huge fan of the Chicago Blackhawks.  He also knew the Corey Crawford was her favorite player.  Take a look at what Dave got for her.  She was so excited!!!  I took it to the hospital to show her last Friday, but she just didn’t feel up to taking a picture until today.  This was so special to her.  We cannot thank Dave enough!!!

When I got home from work, it was obvious that Megan was feeling so much better.  Madison Emerson was over, and somehow, she talked Madison into giving her a foot rub.  Both of them were waiting for their favorite show, “The Fosters” which20150202_175439 started at 7:00 p.m.  Makenna Emerson came over as well, so all three of the girls had a good time.  Kenzi had musical rehearsal from 5-9:00 p.m., so she she missed out on “The Fosters”.

It is now about 8:30 p.m., and although Megan is feeling better, she still gets fatigued very quickly.  She says that her stomach still hurts, but hopefully she continues to improve each day.  She is settled in on the couch now and about to fall asleep.  Hopefully, it will be a peaceful sleep tonight, because tomorrow, we go back to Central DuPage Hospital for an outpatient chemo treatment of Vincristine.  She was supposed to have that treatment today, but Dr. Hayani rescheduled it for tomorrow morning due to the weather conditions.

“Team Megan” continues to grow in power with each passing day.  Megan received some really nice pictures today from those supporters.  One of our good friends, Ryan Cougill, is the head baseball coach at Yavapai Jr. College in Arizona.  Here is a picture of his team showing their “Team Megan” spirit.  Thanks Ryan!!!

YavapaiAlso, Brittany and Emily Halliday from Eastern Illinois University had their sorority, Alpha Phi, show their support for “Team Megan”.  Brittany and Emily are right in the middle of the first row.  Thanks girls!!!

FB_IMG_1422925003750Megan also received this picture from the Minooka High School National Honor Society who dedicated their Relay for Life activity to Megan.  Thanks to the students and their sponsor, Donna Engel, for cheering on “Team Megan”.

NHS Relay-1Day 31 finally marked some relief for Megan.  I can’t tell you the sense of relief Deb and I have that she is not experiencing the nausea and stomach pain today.  It is such a helpless feeling to watch her go through that, so seeing it start to subside is a blessing.  Thank you so much to all of you who sent encouraging comments, cards and letters to her.  Those really help her through the tough days.  In fact, I remember Megan’s disappointment yesterday when she realized that there was no mail delivery because it was Sunday.  “Team Megan” continues to pull her through the rough times.  Thank you so much for supporting her!!!

Day 32 will mark Megan’s 13th chemo treatment since December 30.  That would be enough to knock down most adults, let alone a 13 year old girl who barely tips the scale at 100 pounds.  However, Megan continues to persevere and trudge forward…and many times she does so with an incredible smile on her face.

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.   –Helen Keller

On Day 32, let’s hope the sun continues to shine on Megan.

Finding the Beautiful Moments

Day 30 of Megan’s recovery from stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer just happened to be Super Bowl Sunday.  With Megan still recovering from her intensive five-day chemo treatment, this year’s Super Bowl was a little different for our family.  Instead of spending the day cooking food in preparation for the game, we spent most of the day helping Megan with the unfortunate side effects that result from chemo.  However, as usual, she kept trudging forward to the point that by the Super Bowl halftime show, she actually started to feel a little better…which was good, because she likes Katy Perry.  In fact, in 7th grade, Megan sang a Katy Perry solo at her chorus concert. 🙂

Last night, Megan slept well as she didn’t get up until about 8:00 a.m.  The last two days, she has really been frustrated because she is always hungry, but whenever she eats, she gets nauseous and ends up getting sick.  This morning, she said she was starving and wanted a yogurt and some pancakes from McDonalds.  So I braved the snowy weather and got her the pancakes she wanted.  She downed both the yogurt and the pancakes quickly, and then wanted some more food.  We waited a little while to make sure everything agreed with her stomach.  Sure enough, in about 30 minutes, she started feeling nauseous again.  She has been taking her medication, but it doesn’t seem to be doing the trick this time.

snowmanFB_IMG_1422838011723We have had quite a snow storm today.  However, even a snowstorm can’t dampen the spirits of “Team Megan.”  Check out these pictures that were sent to Megan today.  She thought those were pretty neat.

At around 10:30, Megan wanted to take a hot bath.  However, halfway through it, she started feeling sick.  She ended up throwing up and then falling asleep for about two hours.  When she woke up, she still didn’t feel well, but she asked us to make her a smoothie.  She drank that and then seemed to perk up a little bit.  Makenna Emerson brought over some food for us, and when she stayed to visit it seemed to help take Megan’s mind off things for awhile.  Makenna stayed until after the halftime show of the Super Bowl.  Megan thought Katy Perry was pretty awesome!

After that, she started to have some stomach pain again, so she laid in bed and fell asleep at about 8:45 p.m.  Overall, it was another pretty rough day for her.  Although Megan responded better this time to receiving the five-day chemo cycle, the recovery from the chemo has still been very difficult for her.  The only thing I can equate it to is feeling like you have the flu all the time.  Not only does her stomach hurt, but she is also so achy and tired.  Hopefully, she starts to feel better tomorrow, because we actually have to take her back to Central DuPage Hospital for another chemo treatment in the morning.  She receives a treatment of Vincristine tomorrow, which doesn’t seem to bother her too much.

kaseyharveyAs I have maintained throughout this experience, there is no way to keep your sanity unless you seek out and find the moments of beauty within this arduous journey.  One of those beautiful moments has been the long distance relationship Megan has developed with another girl who also has rhabdomyosarcoma cancer.  Kasey Harvey is a 13 year old girl who just happens to live in Megan’s favorite city, San Diego.  Megan and Kasey’s stories are very similar as Kasey was diagnosed about a month before Megan.  If you look at her blog, you will see she is a beautiful young lady who is an outstanding soccer player.  She and Megan have connected via20150201_154246 text, and they talk virtually everyday.  Since they are going through similar treatments and side effects, they have lots to talk about.  Megan was very excited today when she received a gift from Kasey.  As you can see from the picture, Kasey got Megan a cupcake beanie, which exactly like one that Kasey has.  I hope that Megan and Kasey continue to support each other as they both travel their respective journeys to victory.  “Team Megan” and “Team Kasey Harvey” are both planning victory celebrations!!!

“Team Megan” continues to feed Megan’s spirit on a daily basis.  Today, she received a really exciting picture from the University of Illinois Cross Country team.  Since I am both a runner and a proud U of I alumni, I thought it was pretty neat as well.  Thank you to the Illini for making Megan smile today.UofIcc

Also, the local cub Scout troop showed their support for Team Megan at their annual pine box derby.  Here is a picture of all of them, and check out the cool car one of the young men built in honor of Megan.  You have to love the Lucky Charm theme!!!

cubscouts

20150201_120738After 30 days of fighting, Megan is still winning her battle.  Although she knows she still has a long, hard journey ahead, she takes solace in knowing that “Team Megan” is behind her.  There is just something comforting to her in knowing that she is not traveling this road alone.  Her determination, mental toughness and moxie never cease to amaze anyone who is around her.  By now, most people in her shoes would be feeling sorry for themselves, but not Megan.  She is an amazing young lady, and everyone on “Team Megan” knows she can do this.

I just watched the Patriots win the Super Bowl in an amazing game.  However, their victory will pale in comparison to the victory that is ultimately awaiting “Team Megan”.

On to Day 31…

The Worst of Times & the Best of Times

In previous blog posts, I have said that Megan’s recovery effort from stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer is like riding the biggest, baddest roller coaster you have ever seen.  Well, Day 29 was no exception.  For the majority of the day, Megan was riding at the lowest point of the roller coaster, but like so many times before, “Team Megan” pushed her back to the top where the view was amazing.

Yesterday marked the conclusion of Megan’s second five-day chemo cycle.  She got home yesterday afternoon and slept most of the afternoon and through the night.  For the next few days, Megan’s body will work very hard to try and process the intense chemo treatments that she experienced.  Although she never threw up in the hospital, we were still very cognizant of the possibility she would get sick during the next two to three days.  Her body is just exhausted and the after-affects of the chemo medications are still there.

Megan woke up at about 8:00 a.m. this morning and we could tell she didn’t look good.  She was pale and you could see the discomfort in her eyes.  She immediately started to complain that her stomach hurt, but she said she was starving and wanted to eat.  She requested some cheese eggs and toast, so her mom made them for her.  She ate quite a bit, but still was complaining about her stomach.  She took her anti-nausea medication, but the chemo was determined to win this battle.  At about 9:00 a.m., she got sick.  She then went back to sleep for a couple hours.

When she woke up, she was still miserable.  She asked me to rub her feet and her back, but that didn’t seem to help.  Then she 20150131_12001220150131_125314wanted a cold cloth on her head, but that wasn’t helping either.  About the only thing that consoled her was being with her pets.  At about 4:00 p.m., she got sick again.  I cannot even begin to explain the feeling of helplessness we have when we cannot take her discomfort away.  It’s one of the worst feelings a parent can ever experience.  As the afternoon progressed, I found myself getting more and more angry that she had to deal with this.  It just doesn’t seem fair.  Luckily, her mom was handling today much better than me.  One of the things we have discovered is that caring for Megan throughout this journey has to be a team effort, and we make a pretty darn good team.  Deb washed her off with a cool cloth and Megan went back to sleep for about an hour.

It is very hard to watch Megan experience these negative side effects of the chemo treatments, but as always, she tries to make it as easy as possible on her family.  Every time she has to throw up, she grabs her tub and heads to her bathroom.  She never yells for us, and she never cries.  When we hear her, we come running, but she always has it under control.  The way she continues to deal with her treatment is nothing short of incredible.  She has been forced to grow up in a hurry, but she has handled it with such grace and dignity.

IMG_7955Up to this point in the day, the only good news we had received was that Mackenzie had won first place in her speech meet at Yorkville today.  She and her partner, Kevin Soto, are really excelling at their DDA.  This was a good tune-up for the regional meet next Saturday at Morris.  We continue to be so proud of all of Kenzi’s accomplishments.  Yesterday, her basketball team won the conference tournament, and today, she wins her speech meet.  Here is a picture of her trophy from today’s meet.

Just when Megan had hit the lowest point of the day, we decided to bring up the cards and gifts that “Team Megan” had sent her today.  It is incredible how it lifted her spirits.  The color started coming back to her face, and she started to actually smile and talk like the old Megan.  I can’t help but think that once she started opening her cards and gifts that all of the positive energy from “Team Megan” started pouring into her.  I know that sounds crazy, but you really had to see it to believe it.  Plus, she got some pretty amazing stuff today!

One of Megan’s dreams is to take a vacation to Australia.  She completed a project on the country in school, and she fell in love with it.  Needless to say, she was really excited when she received a package from someone in Australia.  They sent her a cute stuffed animal from the country.  Megan that it was pretty awesome!20150131_182804

She also received a Chicago Bulls sock monkey from Mrs. Kaye, who was one of her favorite teachers ever.  Here is a picture of her with both stuffed animals.  Can’t you just tell by the smile how much better she feels?  Amazing!!!

20150131_182914She also received another very special gift today.  As many of you know, Megan loves volleyball, so she was blown away when she received an official Team USA Volleyball Team warm-up jacket that was actually worn by Team USA player, Kelly Murphy.  Kelly gave Megan the actual jacket that she wore for Team USA!!!  She also gave her an autographed picture.  How incredible is that??!!  Kelly even took the time to write Megan a personal note wishing her good luck in her recovery.  We already knew Kelly was an amazing volleyball player, but she also must be a really amazing person.  Thanks Kelly!!!

Megan also received the nicest letter from the Dearth family.  They have four boys in our school district, and their mother shared quite a heartfelt story about them competing in a youth wrestling meet.  They wanted to win a first place trophy so they could give it to Megan.20150131_192035  Megan was so touched when she heard how badly the boys wanted to win for her.  Those are the stories that really let her know “Team Megan” is by her side every step of the way.  Many thanks to the Dearth boys.  Here is a picture of them.

Finally, Megan really got a good laugh out of a gift she received from Matt 20150131_183028-1and Allison Peterson.  They sent a gift with a note that said there may be times Megan misses her parents, so with this gift, she would always have us with her.  Here is what she opened!  Megan really thought this was hilarious.  Thanks to the Petersons for making her laugh.

On Day 29, we definitely rode the roller coaster with Megan.  However, like so many times before, the power of “Team Megan” got her through the ride safely.  In fact, as I finish typing this, Megan just came downstairs for the first time all day!  We cannot thank everyone enough for the love and support you continue to show Megan and our family.  With “Team Megan” by her side, winning is the only option.

Day 29 is over and Day 30 is right around the corner.  Let’s see what Superbowl Sunday brings…

Megan’s Home for the Conference Championship

Day 28 of Megan’s recovery from stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer was big one for Megan and Mackenzie.  Today marked the final treatment of Megan’s second five-day chemo cycle.  It also meant that if all went well, she could come home where she belongs.  We were all very excited about having her back home, but Kenzie had some excitement today as well.

For the first four days of treatment, Megan has responded much better than she did in the first round.  Although she had experienced some nausea, she had not thrown up, which was a very good sign.  Early this morning, the nurses weighed her and she came in at 98.5 lbs!!!  That was fantastic news, because so far, she has only lost 1.5 pounds during this entire treatment cycle.  Her doctors have said that they don’t want her to lose more than 5% of her body weight during the treatment cycles, and for Megan, that’s only five pounds.  Not throwing up constantly obviously allowed her to keep her body weight relatively stable during this treatment cycle.  Let’s hope that becomes the norm in future cycles.

At about 9:00 a.m. they started Megan’s fifth, and final, chemo treatment of this cycle.  Although she was exhausted, she was anxious to get that last treatment over with.  If you are not familiar with chemo treatments, it is not a painful process.  All of the chemo medications are given through her port either via a push or an IV infusion.  It’s the after-effects of chemo that are so brutal.

At 10:00 a.m., a very nice Child Life Specialist at the hospital named Ginger came to visit Megan.  They started talking and Megan found out that Ginger was also a licensed cosmetologist.  They started talking about nails, and before you know it,  20150130_113404        Megan had talked Ginger into giving her a manicure.  For about 40 minutes, they both talked and it really took Megan’s mind off of her discomfort.  That was so nice of her to do that for Megan.  Here is a picture of Megan getting her manicure.

As most of you know, one of Megan’s greatest disappointments with having cancer is that she did not get to play her 8th grade year of volleyball.  Our good friends, Matt and Jill Windy, knew how much Megan loved volleyball, so they pulled some strings and got her a really cool present.  Megan was pretty excited when she opened a box and found a volleyball signed by the entire Purdue Boilermaker volleyball team.  All of20150130_104753 the players took the time to write very supportive messages on it.  Many thanks to the Windys and to the Purdue Boilermakers for making her day special.

Megan’s final chemo treatment ended at about 11:00 a.m. and the doctor released her to come home at 12:30 p.m.  We were so excited to pack up and get on the road back to good ol’ Coal City.  Although Megan absolutely loves all of the people at Lurie’s in Central DuPage Hospital, there is still no place like home.  In fact, as we were walking to the car, Megan said,

I can’t wait to go right upstairs and just get in my own bed.

Here is a picture of Megan and I sporting our stocking caps as we got ready to head home.

20150130_123348On our way home, we stopped to pick up Mackenzie from the high school so she could help get Megan settled in at home.  However, I only let her stay for 30 minutes so she could get back to math class.  She wasn’t real happy with me about that!!!  Megan got situated in her bed, but she was really not feeling well.  I think the long car ride home got to her.  She had not thrown up all week, but within 30 minutes of being home, she got sick for the first time.  Then she got back in her bed and went to sleep.

At 5:15 p.m., she was still sleeping, but Mackenzie was playing in the Interestate-8 Conference Championship basketball game at 5:30 p.m. at the high school  Her mom and I made the decision that I would leave and go to Kenzie’s game, and if Megan was feeling okay, we would have a neighbor come over so Deb could see the second half.  Luckily, Deb got to see the second half of a Lady Coaler victory!!!  We defeated a very tough Peotone team to win the Conference Tourney championship for the second year in a row.  Mackenzie has been lucky enough to be on both of those teams, so she received her second championship medal tonight.  We were so proud of all of the girls on the team.  Here are a couple pictures from tonight’s big win.

20150130_185822 (1)20150130_185957 (1)When we got back home, Megan was still not feeling well.  Whenever she’s feeling nauseous, she likes to have her feet rubbed.  So she got about a 20 minute foot massage and then she fell asleep again at 8:00 p.m.  I fully expect she will be asleep for the night as her body continues to process five straight days of intense chemo treatments.

Megan continues to enjoy the many “Team Megan” pictures that get sent to her.  Those pictures are always good reminders to her that she is not fighting this battle alone.  Today, she received quite a few pictures that were all fantastic, but a chinacouple of them she thought were really cool.  Believe it or not, China has now joined “Team Megan”!  This is a picture of a group of English language learners in China.

ccpomsShe also received this picture from the Coal City High School Pom squad as they participated in the state pom competition.  If you look closely, you will see that they are all wearing their “Team Megan” bracelets.  Thanks girls!!!

Megan also received this picture from the DePaul University softball team.  That was very nice of them.IMG_0208

Finally, here is another great picture that the Coal City Middle School wrestling squad took along with the Shabbona team.  Both teams are sporting their “Team Megan” shirts.  Megan really thought that was nice of both teams.  Thanks to all of the wrestlers and their coaches.

warriorwrestlers

Day 28 is over, and although Megan has not felt well and is completely exhausted, she is home.  Just a few minutes ago, Deb said,

It’s so nice to have all four of us together again.

We have two full weeks together before Megan starts round #3.  In a few days, Megan’s body will process the chemo and she should start to feel better.  We are really looking forward to our family being together for the next two weeks.  When you go through something like this, you treasure those moments like never before.

Megan will wake up in her own bed on Day 29.  Let’s see what it brings…

Treatment #4 & Only 1 More!

The 27th day of Megan’s recovery from stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer came to a bit of a premature close today.  After her fourth straight day of intense chemo treatment, Megan was absolutely exhausted tonight, so she fell asleep at 7:45 p.m.  However, up until then, she had still had a pretty good day.

One of the toughest parts of this process for her mom and I has been the challenge of trying to balance all of the various responsibilities in our lives.  Although we would like nothing more than to both be by Megan’s side every hour of every day, that is just not a reality.  We want to make sure that we are still there to support Mackenzie and all of the incredible things she is doing.  Although both of our school districts have been so supportive of us, we still have job responsibilities that we don’t want to let slide.  Therefore, over the weekends, we spend lots of time trying to figure out who will be with Megan at the hospital and who will home for Mackenzie.  So far, we have made it work, but it is the first time in 16 years that our family has not done virtually everything as a family unit.  It is an adjustment for all of us, but we take solace in knowing that this will only be temporary, because once Megan recovers, we will be together again.

Last night, I drove home to be with Mackenzie and Deb stayed overnight at the hospital with Megan.  Deb said that Megan slept through most of the night without any serious stomach issues.  They have had her on so much IV fluid that she has to get up about three to four times per night to go to the bathroom, which always disrupts her sleep.  However, because she has not been throwing up, they reduced her IV fluid, so she only had to get up twice last night.  I think that really helped her feel better this morning.  She ate a bagel with cream cheese and some tater tots for breakfast, which is great.  So far, she has only lost two pounds during this treatment cycle!!!  After that, she and her mom settled in to watch their favorite game show, “The Price is Right”.  I’m pretty sure they were hoping for “Plinko”!!!

Megan started her 4th chemo treatment at 10:00 a.m. this morning.  The compounding affect of four straight treatments is starting to take a toll on her, so she was not quite as talkative as she has been the past three days.  However, she did get a nice surprise  20150129_154019after lunch today.  The hospital has a therapy dog who comes to the children’s wing each week, and today, the dog paid Megan a much needed visit.  Megan misses her pets at home, so this dog really made her day.20150129_153313

Speaking of her pets, before Megan came to the hospital for this five day stay, our neighbors, the Kauzlarics, gave her a very thoughtful gift.  They knew she would miss her dogs, so they said she should bring her dogs with her.  They gave her two stuffed animals that look like our Sheltie and Shih Tzu that we have at home.  Megan keeps them in her hospital bed with her all of the time.  That was so thoughtful of the Kauzlarics!!!20150129_202857

Although Deb and I both hate the fact that Megan has to spend five straight days in the hospital, we both enjoy the quality time that each of us gets to spend with her when we are here.  However, when I got there late this afternoon, Megan was just not up to much conversation, which I understand.  She didn’t feel good all night and was just in no mood to do much but lay in the bed with her eyes closed.

She did get some excitement when I came to the hospital because I brought all of the cards and gifts she received in the mail that day.  She got some things she thought were amazing, but since she was not feeling up to pictures, I will wait until tomorrow’s post to share what she received.  However, she did get a card in the mail that she was really excited about.

Megan is a big fan of the University of Illinois Women’s Volleyball team, and her favorite player ever is Colleen Ward.  When Megan was in 5th grade, she did an entire speech on her.  I don’t quite know how it happened, but Megan received the most thoughtful card from Colleen Ward today.  I wish you could have seen her face when she was reading the card.  She was so excited to get it, and I cannot believe that Colleen took the time to do that for Megan.  Colleen even gave Megan her personal email address and said to contact her whenever Megan needed 20150129_173425anything! Megan’s favorite volleyball player is officially on “Team Megan”!!!  That is something Megan will always treasure and will never forget.  Here is a picture of Colleen Ward’s signature from the card.

Megan continues to get incredible support from so many different groups of people.  Our entire family, but especially Megan’s mom, was touched when we received this picture from the students of Reed-Custer High School.  Deb has been a teacher there for many years, and I don’t know of any teacher who loves and cares for her students more than she does.  I know the students of RCHS genuinely love Mrs. Bugg, so this meant a lot to her…and Megan thought it was pretty cool also.  Thanks to the RCHS Comets!!!

teammeganrchsAt 7:45 p.m., Megan’s body told her enough was enough, so she went to sleep.  As I sit here typing this post, I look at her sleeping next to me and realize that no matter how tough she is, there are times that the chemo is going to win.  However, tonight is only one battle, and one battle does not win a war.  Chemo may have won the battle tonight, but cancer is going to lose the war.

Tomorrow is Day 28, which means only one more chemo treatment until Megan comes home where she belongs!!!

Sweet 16 and Hump Day

20150128_201401Since today is Mackenzie’s 16th birthday, I though I would start with a throwback picture of she and Megan.  Aren’t they cute with their pig tails? 🙂  A month ago, I know Kenzie never dreamed that her younger sister would be in the midst of fighting stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer.  However, today marks the 26th day of Megan’s journey to a full recovery.

There are many people who made sure Kenzi had a great Sweet 16th birthday.  Her yearbook class at school had cake and ice cream for her (thanks to Makenna Emerson for getting that organized!!!)  Here is a picture of her yearbook Yearbookclass with Kenzi in the middle holding the cake.  She also received flowers, balloons, presents and had her room decorated by some of her friends.  However, the most special present she received was one that was sent by her sister, Megan.

As soon as Megan got up this morning, she said she needed to send her sister a birthday picture.  Megan was upset that our family could not be together for Kenzi’s birthday, so she wanted to make sure her sister knew she was thinking about her.  Here is the picture Megan sent.  Notice she is sporting the blue wig that Kim Scerine gave to her (she also has them in green and pink!).  Needless to say, Kenzi thought that picture was so darn cute!

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Megan has been responding to the chemo treatments much better during this round.  Although she gets upset stomachs, she has still not thrown up, which is such a blessing.  Right after she took the picture for her sister, she sent me out to get her a strawberry frosted donut from Dunkin Donuts.  When the nurse weighed her today, she had lost two pounds since Monday, but that is much better than the last round.

Today was “hump day”, so at 10:00 a.m., Megan started her 3rd of the 5 days of chemo she will receive during this cycle.  The treatment was completed by noon, and by 12:30 p.m., Megan was fast asleep.  During this round, she seems to be much more fatigued than she had been previously, but that is to be expected the further she gets into her treatment.  She slept until about 3:30 p.m., and when she woke up, she had another one of those strange food cravings.  She knew her mom was on her way to the hospital, and she told me that she wanted to call her.  When she called her mom, she told her that she wanted chips and queso from Chili’s.  I don’t think her mother expected that request!!!  So, I got on Google Maps and found a Chili’s that was not too far out of the way, and her mom picked up the order and had it to her by 4:00 p.m.  Megan ate quite a bit of it and then settled in to relax with her mom.

In my posts, I have mentioned the incredible work of Dr. Hayani and Dr. Salvi.  Deb keeps telling me to get pictures of Megan with them, and I keep 20150128_103747forgetting.  However, today I did remember to get a picture with Dr. Hayani.  Dr. Salvi will have to be in a later post.  They are both incredibly caring doctors and we are so comfortable with the care they have been giving Megan.  Many thanks to both of them!!!

At that point, I hurried home to meet Kenzi after basketball practice so I could take her out for her 16th birthday.  Kenzi and her mom went out together last night, so tonight 20150128_182035was my turn.  She wanted to go to the New China Restaurant in Wilmington.  We had a great time…and she even let her dad take a selfie with her…buzzed head and all!!!

The support that “Team Megan” continues to provide to Megan and our family is unbelievable.  There have so many random acts of kindness from people that Megan has never met, but heard about her story and wanted to support her in her battle.  Yesterday, we received a very touching message from the father of a wrestler from Minooka Jr. High.  His son, Michael, heard about Megan’s story and wanted to do something for her.  He made his dad take him to the store and he found the girliest pair of socks ever.  He put Megan’s initials on the back of the socks, wore them to his next match, and dedicated his match to Megan.  Megan thought this was such a kind gesture…especially from someone she has never met.  Young Michael must be an amazing young man to carry out such a kind and thoughtful gesture.  Here are a few of pictures the that Michael’s dad sent to me.  Thanks Michael!!!

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Tonight was the first pick-up for the “Team Megan” shirts that people had ordered.  I couldn’t believe it when Kortni Emerson told us that over 650 shirts had been pre-ordered!!!  I also heard that the first 2,000 “Team Megan” wristbands are almost gone and they are ordering another 1,000 of them.  The support that Megan has received continues to give her the strength to travel this difficult road with confidence and determination.  She knows “Team Megan” is fighting by her side, because in this community, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Fight Cancer Alone.”  By the way, if you are interested in either the “Team Megan” shirts or wristbands, you can find information on the “Team Megan Bugg” Facebook page.

Throughout her journey, Megan continues to teach us all that toughness is not about size and brawn, but rather it is about what is in the soul and the spirit.  Megan’s soul and and spirit continue to shine bright as ever.

Day 26 is over, and Day 27 is coming quickly.  Victory is getting closer by the day!!!

What’s All the Buzz About?

Day 25 of Megan’s recovery from stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer is nearing an end, and it has certainly been an eventful day.  Today marked the second day of Megan’s five day chemo cycle.  Throughout the night, she experienced some nausea, but thankfully, she never did throw up.  When she woke up, she was able to eat a bagel with cream cheese and keep it down, so that was great.  She started her second chemo treatment at about 10:30 a.m.  Although she has still felt nauseous, so far, it has not been nearly as severe as it was during the first chemo cycle.  We spent some time today talking to Megan’s wonderful Nurse Practitioner, Kathy.  She told us that over the last ten years, the advancements in anti-nausea medications have gotten to the point that nausea is no longer the major side effect of chemo.  Instead, the most often cited side effect is fatigue.  If that becomes true with Megan, we will definitely take it, because watching her experience the extreme nausea is agonizing for parents.  So far, the nausea medication seems to be working.  We will keep our fingers crossed!

Thanks to Kortni Emerson, Megan received a nice surprise this morning.  Kortni brought Mackenzie, Makenna, and Madison up20150127_104935 for a visit.  It really made Megan happy to see them.  Having her sister and friends around makes her forget about her discomfort for awhile, which is a welcome mental distraction for her.  Kortni…Thanks for bringing the girls to see her!!!

As everyone knows, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome with cancer is the inevitable loss of hair that comes along with the chemo treatments.  Over the past three days, Megan has really started to lose her hair, so she knew this day was coming.  However, for a 13 year old girl who has always had long, beautiful hair, losing that hair is still a traumatic experience.  Thankfully, Toni Spencer made the drive all the way up to the hospital today so she had a familiar face to cut her hair.  I could tell Megan was upset, but Toni really put her at ease, and she never cried.  After Megan was done, I thought it would be a good idea if Megan and I got matching haircuts.  I think Megan enjoyed seeing her dad get buzzed just like her.  We cannot thank Toni Spencer enough for her generosity and kindness!!!  I think you will agree that Megan looks absolutely gorgeous in her new haircut.  I know she looks a lot better than her dad!!!  We are so proud of her!!!  Here are some pictures of this landmark event in Megan’s recovery effort.

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Soon after the “buzz”, a local magician came by and did some card tricks for Megan.  He was really good, and it made Megan smile.

20150127_145852 (1)After all the “buzz”, Megan was pretty worn out, so she went to sleep for a couple hours.  As I mentioned previously, during chemo treatments the body is working very hard, so it needs time to recover.  Prior to Megan’s cancer treatment, she never took a nap during the day.  However, while under treatment, she takes at least two naps per day.  Even though her attitude and determination have been nothing short of incredible,20150127_180012 there are still reminders of the necessary toll that chemo takes on the body.  In those times, we put a cold cloth on her head and just let her sleep.  Watching her go through these treatments is very tough on us, but the silver lining is that we know the chemo is working and she is getting better each day.  That hope is what we continue to hang on to during the rough times.

I keep talking about Megan’s mental toughness and determination, but she also has one of the softest hearts I have ever seen.  As I sat with her in the hospital tonight, there were two events that took place that really tugged at my emotions.  I left the room for a moment to go talk to the nurse, and when I came back, Megan was crying.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said,

I feel bad for Kenzi because we all won’t be together for her 16th birthday.  It’s not fair to her.

Then, about 20 minutes later, she turned to me and said,

Dad, did you eat supper? I worry about you.

Our 13 year old daughter has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer; can’t go to school; can’t participate in volleyball; is going through a brutal five-day chemo cycle; and just got all of her hair shaved off, and yet all she is worried about are the other members of her family.  However, that’s who she is.

Tonight, Megan caused me to realize that while we have been so worried about taking care of her, all along, she has actually been taking care of us.  That’s a humbling realization.

Let’s see what the “buzz” will be on Day 26…