Monday, October 18, 2010

Write Pink! Support {Love}: The Core of Healing, Megan's Story

We're focusing on breast cancer support for Write Pink! this week. 

Each day, a guest writer will be posting about ways we can help support the people that are fighting breast cancer and the organizations that are trying to beat it. 

On Thursday, you are welcome and encouraged to link up your Bigger Picture Moment about breast cancer support. {Blog or Facebook notes both work!}. By linking up, you will automatically be entered to win a gift certificate to {So} Sartina

By commenting on any one of the support posts, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win an apron (the better for making meals or bakes sales with!) from It's All in the Bag. 

Today's post is about supporting access and care for all by Megan:


"God truly does give us everything we need, especially the gift of each other, and I needed you! You are at the core of my healing!"

My good friend Meagan delivered these words to over 150 women and girls as part of the moving story of her victory over cancer, a story she shared at a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation on April 25, 2010. Seven months earlier, Meagan had been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

As Write Pink's focus shifts from breast cancer prevention to giving and receiving support as women are diagnosed and treated, I'm here to tell you what happened in the months between.

I'll never forget first hearing about Meagan's diagnosis in September 2009. We were standing on my driveway on a beautiful early fall afternoon and my neighbor, Katie, with tears in her eyes, shared the news with me and two other girls in our Bunco group. I also vividly remember my immediate reaction of knee-buckling fear and sadness as the news soaked in, and how I wondered, What on earth will I say to Meagan? What can I do? How must she feel and how can I possibly do ANYTHING to make her feel better? Because I couldn't imagine myself hearing the words she'd just heard from her doctor, nor could I come up with anything that'd make me feel better in the same situation. I don't think you can ever be prepared to hear such news, do you? But even in that state of horrible grief and uncertainty, we all knew, the four of us on that driveway, and a dozen more of Meagan's friends and neighbors, that we would not let Meagan go through a single moment of what lay ahead without us. We would be there with her, every step of the way, in whatever capacity she needed us.

Meagan would have the support {love} - the collective energy, spirit, and soul - of this small but mighty army of determined women to rely on until we all stood together with her at the end to celebrate her healing.

Everyday/Every Way Support

We organized ourselves by creating a Care Calendar for Meagan and her family. Through this service, we were all able to see and volunteer for daily meal preparation for Meagan and her husband and two kids, for weekly delivery of fresh flowers, for visits with Meagan and help taking her to doctor's appointments. This calendar provided all of us with a clear view of what needed to be done and who was getting it done. For six months, Meagan had dinner delivered just in time for her family's evening meal, and she never went a week without a bouquet of seasonal blooms to cheer her up. She had access to the calendar as well - visible proof that we were with her, every step of the way.

Financial Support

Medical bills pile up fast for cancer patients, even those with excellent medical coverage. The last thing a family struggling with the day to day emotions and worries of illness and chemo/radiation needs is to wonder if they'll have enough money left after paying those unexpected bills to cover the mortgage or the car note or life's other basic necessities. Together with members of Meagan's church, we raised money and presented her family with a substantial check in November so the holiday season could be a time of togetherness and joy, not of anxiety and stress. All it took to raise money was a blanket email to a large list we compiled of people who knew and loved this family. The checks began coming in the very next day.

Moral Support

To show Meagan we HATED cancer and were determined to be part of ending it for good, 14 of us joined together as Team Cure or Bust and committed to walk in the Chicago 3-Day for the Cure in August of this year. As we continued to support Meagan and her family individually, we also began raising funds for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and training to walk 60 miles in 3 days. This work blessed us all with a feeling that we were taking charge and making a difference in women's lives for many generations, in honor of our Meagan and several other friends and family members who had, or would, battle the disease. Meagan attended many of our team meetings as we planned our fund raising events and she cheered us on with enthusiasm as we hit the pavement day in and day out to get our bodies ready for the walk. By the weekend of the 3-Day, we had raised $50,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and were the top local-only fundraising team for the city of Chicago. Best of all, though, is that by August, Meagan was 100% cancer free and healthy and she stunned and delighted us all just a few days before the 3-Day by announcing she was joining Team Cure or Bust. Our amazing friend walked every one of those 60 miles by our sides in the hot summer sun.

Meagan, Opening Ceremonies, Chicago 3-Day for the Cure, August 7, 2010

Continued Support

As any serious illness or injury does, breast cancer leaves an indelible mark on its victims, even when they do triumph and survive. We know that as Meagan LIVES, and lives to the fullest, post-cancer (she was declared CANCER FREE on April 1, 2010, and we were all there with her to celebrate, just as we said we would be), she may continue at times to struggle with fear and doubt and sadness. We all consider ourselves so deeply blessed to have the chance to be an on-going source of emotional support for Meagan, and we continue to watch out for and listen to her and be ready and available to help lift her spirits or just offer her a shoulder on which she can lean.

Meagan continues to thrive post-cancer and just returned from walking with friends and family in the Race for the Cure in Arizona this past weekend. Every time I see her, she reminds me of how this group of women helped save her and taught her so many amazing lessons about love and life. What we did was so simple and so natural, born of our love for our friend, but has made an lasting, life-giving impact on Meagan, on each of us and on the whole world.

Megan Cobb also blogs at FriedOkra.


Robin said...

Thank you so much for sharing how you and your friends supported Meagan - I can only imagine she knows how much she is blessed with your friendship. WTG on your 3-Day awesomeness - that is a staggering fundraising accomplishment and for Meagan to be able to join you is the best part of all. Great post!

Hyacynth said...

Megan, this story of friendship and love and support -- oh, it just gives me goosebumps. I love what you did for Meagan. I'm comforted that something terrible and horrible could even be a chance to showcase love and service and support.

This was a beautiful support post, and I'm so glad you shared it with us!

This Heavenly Life said...

Oh, this is so uplifting! I've always struggled with how to support friends going through sickness or challenge -- and this post is inspiring me to move beyond my own hang-ups. Thank, Megan, for being such a good friend in Meagan's time of need -- you all are lucky to have each other.

And WOO-HOO Meagan for being a strong survivor!

MommaKiss said...

This is so timely for me. My sister-like friend was diagnosed in September. She's having a double mastectomy this week. Thursday. And chemo will start soon after that. After the initial gut-punch to us, her core group (not to mention to HER, god)...we got together and made a plan. She's not one to ask for help, so like you, we created a calendar. We're not into the treatment weeks yet, but will be soon.  The whole 'not knowing what to say' that's been the hardest for me. But she is loved and surrounded. And I pray she's cancer free by this time next year. Congrats to Meagan AND her team.  Thank you for this