Happy Sunday! After spending a week being pretty darn sick, I'm finally feeling better. I cannot remember the last time that a flu hit me so hard - AND - I had a flu shot this year!!!!!!!! Hmmpphh! (as Cassidy would say)
Today I'd like to tell you about a little girl named Megan who means the world to me. Most of my friends know that I've been involved with ChemoAngels for quite a long time now, about 7 years or so. You can read about ChemoAngels by going to www.chemoangels.com - basically you are paired up with a cancer patient anywhere in the country going through treatment, and you can specify if you prefer to be paired up with a man, woman, or child. You then commit to sending weekly mail in the form of cards and small gifts to that person for the duration of their treatment. I've had more than 10 "buddies" through ChemoAngels over the years, and I've become close with many of them - I still keep in touch with several of their families. Brittany was my first patient, she was about 10 or 11 when I was her Angel and it was her 2nd fight with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)- she's now got her driver's license and her mom is a good friend of mine. Ashley was a teenager when I was her Angel - she's now a young mom with 2 adorable babies of her own, and we also keep in touch. It's a great program that has had a huge positive impact on my life.
A little over a year ago, my friend Chris told me that a guy he works with in Rhode Island had a little girl, 10 years old, named Megan who was recently diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). Chris knew about my volunteer work with ChemoAngels, so he asked the family if they'd like him to share her info with me, and they said sure. One thing I have to say here is that you never know how something you do is going to work out - like I said, I've been doing this for quite a while now and I've "met" hundreds of people (probably closer to THOUSANDS) over the Internet and through ChemoAngels. There are some I've stayed casual friendly with, some I've become very close with, and some who have moved on and I've never heard from again - I had no way to know that I would truly come to love this little girl that I was about to "meet".
I started to "unofficially" angel Megan (she never signed up through ChemoAngels, I just use the same concept!), and she's become a very important part of my life. Megan started her treatment for AML right after Christmas of 2006, and she went into remission within a few months, a good sign. However, by July of 2007, Megan's cancer was back. She needed a bone marrow transplant and luckily, her older sister Chelsea was a perfect match. The transplant was done in September - as the months went by, everything that was "supposed to" happen, seemed to be happening. During all of this, Megan stayed strong and upbeat - she's absolutely amazing. She rarely complains, she keeps a positive attitude, and she works hard to cheer others up around her! She's such a little sweetheart, and it makes me even more angry that she has to go through this.
Megan and I communicate through e-mails now and then, but I mostly send care packages to her every Saturday. I also e-mail her mom Teresa occasionally. At Christmas time, Megan asked her mom is she would drive her to my house to meet me. I was absolutely thrilled and honored, and I couldn't wait to give this child a hug. They drove about an hour to my house, and when they pulled up outside, I felt like a little kid waiting for Santa to come! I ran outside and gave her a big hug, it was so wonderful to get to do that. I was shocked when Teresa got a huge basket out of her car and presented it to me - they had made me a gorgeous Christmas basket complete with a hand-made fleece blanket with kitties all over it (my favorite present!!!), an adorable stuffed reindeer with a beautiful picture of Meg and her sisters inside a Christmas tree ornament that Meg had made (I had sent her the craft kit to make ornaments), a gift certificate to AC Moore (you can tell they know me!), and a bunch of other stuff - I was absolutely floored. Teresa and Meg came in and spent about an hour with me, just sitting at my kitchen table and chatting, it was so awesome. It was the best Christmas gift I ever received in my entire life, and I will never forget it. I'm so thankful to Teresa for bringing Meg to meet me, I can hardly even express it in words.
The next few months went by fairly smoothly for Meg, and I continue to search out new and fun, silly things to send her, all the while believing that her cancer is being beat, that before too long we're going to hear the words that Megan is cancer-free. However, on April 16, just a couple of weeks ago, I got the news that Meg's cancer had returned. I was at work when I read the update on her web page, and I just burst into tears. I was devastated, it's just NOT FAIR - these are the words that I hear so often, that I say so often when it comes to cancer - it's just not fair. The next step is to take T-cells from her sister who donated the marrow and infuse them into Meg's bloodstream, hoping that these cells will recognize the leukemia cells as foreign and kill them. Megan may end up needing another BMT, from a non-related donor.
This is where my plea comes in - if you have not yet, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go get yourself tested and put on the bone marrow registry list. You can save a child's life. You could save Megan's life. I was tested and put on the list in high school, and I would not hesitate to donate to anyone at all if I was called upon. I cannot imagine knowing that there might be someone out there who would be a match, but that we might not ever know because they didn't get tested. Go to www.redcross.org and put in your zip code, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. You won't be sorry, you just might be a hero to someone some day.
Lastly - please keep Megan in your thoughts and prayers. I don't care what religion you are, say a prayer for my Megan. Say a prayer that she kicks cancer's a** once more and shows that stupid disease who is boss. You don't have to say a prayer that she'll stay strong - this is one tough cookie who will stay strong and keep smiling throughout whatever life throws at her, of this I have absolutely no doubt. And she'll have her Angel sending her lots of happy mail for as long as she wants/needs it - I wish so much that I could do more, I think that's one of the reasons that cancer is so awful, it makes you feel so damn helpless.
Megan, you are in my thoughts and in my heart every single day. If there is ever anything at all that I can do for you, or send you, you know I'd do it in a heartbeat. Never give up hope. I love you, little bumblebee, and I will always be here for you.