Megan H. sent us an update about her recent appointments. We would like to send our gratitude to Megan for continuing to share her story with the mesothelioma community. Her last name is being withheld over privacy concerns.
Tell us about how your treatment is going.
I have officially been released from my oncologist Dr. Scoggins until April, when I will return for a CT scan. In the meantime, he referred me to a chemotherapy specialist at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, Ky. I went in for that appointment yesterday.
Dr. Sharma will be running a CT scan next Monday to make sure I’ve had no new cancer growth since my HIPEC surgery in September. He does not want to recommend chemo for just the sake of doing it. If I continue to have problems, or start to feel pain, he is just a phone call away.
Can you describe your experience with the James Graham Brown Cancer Center?
The Brown Cancer Center will always be there for me, whether I need chemo from there or not. They have countless options to help me cope with this awful disease that has consumed my life for the past several months. I have tons of resources available, such as group sessions, a therapist and someone to help me out with my bills.
I felt amazing after walking out of that appointment. For the first time in months, I felt the most relief I have felt. For once, I was finally able to have my questions answered and not another setback. I have my fingers crossed that everything comes out clean on my CT scan, and that it will confirm I do not need additional chemotherapy. The possibility of being able to have my own family is still there. I now do not have to worry that this horrible disease has ruined my chance of someday becoming a mom.
How have you felt since your HIPEC surgery?
Since my surgery, I have had a headache every single day. Some days they are so horrible that it’s the headache keeping me down, not the recovery process. Both Dr. Scoggins and Dr. Sharma have been able to arrange for me to see a neurologist next Monday after my CT scan. They are concerned about these headaches. It is not common to have a continued headache this far out from post-surgery.
I am a very happy-go-lucky person, and it’s not like me to constantly go to bed and wake up with a headache that I can’t even explain. Where the pain is coming from shows no signs that is has stemmed from my epidural. The next step is to see a neurologist and to receive an MRI.
What are your plans for the future?
I will be returning back to work at the funeral home around the middle of December. Once the beginning of the year rolls around, I want to start some sort of program for the families we serve who have lost a loved one to cancer. It doesn’t matter what kind of cancer their loved one passed from, they will be invited to participate.
My first goal of this advocacy program is to hold an annual candlelight vigil and have a few guest speakers from different associations speak. I have not yet come up with a name for what I wish to call this, but I have come up with a slogan: “To honor, to heal, & to give hope.” During this special service, I would like to honor the loved ones that have passed on, to help everyone continue to heal and to give hope to others who may be going through the same thing. I eventually want to turn this into more than just a once-a-year service.
Yes, I do understand that a funeral home would be the last place someone would want to come to after losing a loved one, but this will help lead me to so many more opportunities to become an advocate. I feel very strongly about raising awareness. The compassion I have for my job carries over to anyone suffering through cancer, the unspoken word no one wishes to use.
What has kept you going throughout treatment?
I am living proof that the power of prayer works wonders, and that all it takes is a support system, a good attitude and wonderful doctors. I give all my troubles to God. I have been blessed beyond belief.
There have been times when I feel abandoned and that all of my friends look at me with pity. I have felt like their smiles were just pity washed. As much as I do need financial assistance, I need emotional support as well. It’s been a long road so far, but short compared to what others have experienced. I know that there are others in this world suffering far worse than I am. Bills can pile up all they want, but as long as my support system is still there, even just having someone’s shoulder to cry on, is all that matters at the end of the day.
What have been your greatest challenges?
Financial assistance is a major burden, no matter what sort of health issue anyone is dealing with. We all know how bad the economy has been. My biggest battle has been that my insurance claims my cancer is “pre-existing.” There is no way that this is possible, and I have had that confirmed by four doctors now. So now begins the battle with the insurance. It’s a major frustration to me that we live in one of the greatest countries, but millions of people die every year because they cannot financially afford the healthcare they need. It is a sad, sad thing.
We are happy Megan is sharing her stories with us and we wish her the best. If you would like to ask a question or share your personal story, please feel free to connect with us on Twitter, Facebook or Email.