Sunday, August 11, 2013
Fighting For Meagan
"Please pray for Meagan and her family. She has just been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma". This was the text I received from my friend in answer to the question we had all been asking ourselves. Did Meagan really have cancer?
My heart sank. I just couldn't believe it. Not Meagan. I felt physically sick to my stomach.
I first found out something was wrong with Meagan during a softball game. Hubs and my two older daughters were on a co-ed softball team with her parents. Meagan's Mom and I were talking, and she mentioned that Meagan had a lump on her neck that the doctors were concerned about because it was growing.
At that point, there wasn't a whole lot of concern, because while cancer was a possibility, it was almost surely NOT that. Maybe it was just a swollen lymph node? I have had one of those under my arm, and while it was painful and scary, I just took some antibiotics and it went away. Yes, perhaps it was just that.
The one doctor wanted to do a surgery to remove it, but why jump to conclusions? Why not just do some blood work first? See if there was anything to be concerned about. A second opinion was definitely in order. So, a second opinion was sought.
Blood work was done. A biopsy at a well-known hospital was scheduled. Many prayers were said. We all hoped for the best. I was not expecting to get the text I did saying that yes.....Meagan has cancer.
Meagan is a fourteen year old girl. She is my middle daughter's age. She is going into high school this year. She is on the track team. She is a fearless pole vaulter. I didn't want to believe that she could have cancer. Cancer doesn't happen to people I actually know.
Especially, not to people who are MY daughter's age.
And yet.....it had happened. The worst case scenario we were all hoping and praying wouldn't come true.....did.
Her parents are shell-shocked. They knew that a cancer diagnosis might be on the horizon, but how do you properly prepare yourself to hear that one of your children has CANCER? You can't.
Her sisters are scared. Who wouldn't be? They just want her to be okay.
Since Meagan's diagnosis just a short while ago, she has already had three different surgeries in three weeks. She had one for the biopsy, one to test her bone marrow to see if the cancer had spread, and one to install a main line port for chemotherapy.
In one day, she went from being a teenage girl who might have cancer, to a teenage girl who does have cancer.
So, what exactly is Hodgkin's Lymphoma? Prior to Meagan's diagnosis, the only thing I knew about it was that it was a cancer that was in the lymph system, and that it wasn't Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
That night, I started researching. That is what I do. I research. It helps me to cope with things better. I typed in Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and I started learning about it.
Here is some information I found on mayoclinic.com:
Hodgkin's Lymphoma— formerly known as Hodgkin's disease — is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system.
In Hodgkin's lymphoma, cells in the lymphatic system grow abnormally and may spread beyond the lymphatic system. As Hodgkin's lymphoma progresses, it compromises your body's ability to fight infection.
Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of two common types of cancers of the lymphatic system. The other type, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is far more common.
The only symptom that Meagan had was the swollen lymph node that was growing. However, other symptoms of this disease could be: persistent fatigue, fever and chills, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, coughing, trouble breathing or chest pain, loss of appetite, or itching.
After her diagnosis, the first thing they needed to determine was what "stage" the cancer was in. There are four different stages. After all of the testing was done, they found out that she is in stage 2, which means that more than one lymph node is affected, but nothing below the abdomen.
She went in on Friday to have her main line port installed, and she begins chemotherapy on Tuesday. Her Mom posted on Facebook that it was crazy how normal the abnormal becomes. They went from planning a fun family vacation....to planning surgeries, blood work, and tests. From planning school shopping for her freshman year of high school....to planning chemotherapy sessions.
My heart is just breaking for this sweet family. They have already been through so much. You see, this is not their first child that has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Their middle daughter has Cystic Fibrosis. She has been through multiple hospitalizations herself. It took a long time for the doctors to figure out that she had this disease. She spent way too many years being misdiagnosed while she got sicker and sicker. Now, just as they were finally beginning to turn a corner with her illness, and she was starting to improve.....Meagan's diagnosis occurred.
We live in a small town, with a small hospital, that is not equipped to deal with serious illnesses. So, whenever they have to have a surgery, testing, or chemotherapy, they have to drive almost four hours round trip.
I know what that is like, because this is the same drive that I took with Hubs while he was going through his surgery to remove the basal cell cancer by his eye, and the subsequent visits.
It is long.
It is tiring.
It is expensive.
Time must be taken off of work. Child care must be arranged. Too many meals have to be eaten away from home. Too much money has to be spent to fill the vehicle with gas to get to and from appointments.
And then, the medical bills start pouring in. Hubs' surgery alone cost $15,000. That does not count all of the prior visits before his diagnosis. We have great insurance, but we still had quite a chunk we had to pay out of our own pockets.
Meagan's medical bills are just beginning. I can't even imagine how high they will go. The family is already dealing with bills due to their middle daughter's illness, and now, they have been hit with this.
A fundraiser link has been set up to try and help this family out financially, as they begin Meagan's fight. Every little bit helps! I know the family would be beyond grateful for every dollar. If you go to this link, you can also learn more about Meagan and her family.
Most of all, could you please keep Meagan and her family in your prayers? They are going through a lot right now, and could really use them. Pray for strength and courage, for their spirits to be high, that the chemotherapy would do it's job, and that Meagan can go back to just being a regular teenage girl.
Where her only worries are trivial things like what outfit to wear on the first day of school, if a boy in her class will ask her to the dance, or whether she will beat the school record for the highest pole vault...
No fourteen year old girl should have to worry about losing her hair, missing too much school, or being sick from chemotherapy....
Please....help us fight....for Meagan.....
Here is the fundraiser link: