Do you remember how you celebrated your 21st birthday?
Turning 21 was an exciting time for most of most of us. For Megan Kinney it was more exciting than most as she prepared to compete on the 2012 US Olympic synchronized swimming team. Less than four months later, Megan’s life changed forever when she was diagnosed with bone cancer.
I met Megan last month on her 22nd birthday – we met on the cancer unit at Nationwide Children’s and Megan was 9 months into her treatment.
Our surgeons were able to save Megan’s leg by removing the tumor – along with her knee joint, part of her thigh bone and lower leg bones. Everything that was removed was replaced with an artificial joint and Megan began several months of rehabilitation to regain movement and chemotherapy to prevent the cancer from reoccurring in her body. This diagnosis ended Megan’s Olympic hopes for 2012 but not the spirit of this amazing young woman.
The day I met Megan was special – not just because it was her birthday but also because it was the day she started her final round of chemotherapy. She has completed 21 rounds since her surgery, each requiring a multiple-day hospital stay that often would leave her exhausted.
Finishing cancer treatment is always a momentous occasion for our patients but it’s also a moment of celebration for our cancer team. Megan was ready for her final treatment! We chatted while the team connected the IV with her chemo medication and the amber-colored fluid began its slow drip into her body- I think we all realized the importance of the moment. The nurses had even made a sign, “Last Chemo Treatment,” so everyone on the unit could help her celebrate.
We talked about the future – Megan’s hopes for the year ahead. Where does she want to be on her 23rd birthday? Megan has big plans…returning to college to complete her education degree, getting back in the pool and even learning to scuba dive.
While we spoke I couldn’t help but notice the ring on Megan’s middle finger – she would frequently touch or spin the ring. When I looked closer I realized it was designed from the Olympic Rings. When I asked her about it she turned it fondly and told me it was a gift from her parent’s when she first made the Olympic Team and it never left her finger. Although she won’t be competing in the 2012 Olympics Megan is still pulling for her team mates and may even make the trip to London for the competition.
Megan will be coming back to Children’s every 3 months for her follow-up appointments with the cancer team. I’ll plan to keep you posted on Megan’s story.