My Future Baby Elsa- 1st Trip to the Fertility Clinic

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Where do babies come from? Don’t worry, I am absolutely not going to give you the “birds and the bees” conversation! But, being a mom has always been a dream of mine! For many of you that know me, you would probably say that I love kids! I have always pictured myself marrying my prince charming, having babies and living happily ever after. I was on the right path, I found my prince charming; we had a wedding date… then that word. As soon as you hear the word “Cancer”… all your dreams sort of come to a halt, or do they…

Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer only a couple weeks ago now, I sort of feel like my life has been on over drive! From appointment after appointment, test after test, and planning a wedding in two weeks, needless to say I am physically and emotionally exhausted! In a weeks time I now have an oncologist, surgical oncologist, geneticist, overly supportive nursing staff, and fertility specialists whom are all working toward making me better!

So, why did I say we were going to talk about babies? Before I was told that I had cancer, it never even crossed my mind that I would ever have to look into other options aside from waiting till the time was right, bam chica wah wah and like magic there’s a baby! Ok, I do know it can be a little more complicated than all of that… but, I never had a reason to think that I would have any difficulties! Only a couple of weeks ago, my biggest concern was making sure I took my birth control pill every night!

When the doctor told me I would have to be going through Chemotherapy one of the very first things they brought up was my referral to a Fertility Clinic. I was told that when I am going through chemo, I will have to take a shot in my stomach that sort of “shuts down” my ovaries and there is a high chance that after treatment my ovaries may not work. It was heart breaking to hear this. I am 26 years old, planning a wedding, I’ve found the love of my life, and now I may not be able to even try to start a family the traditional way…

My sisters and I plugged the address into the GPS, we traveled across Pittsburgh and through the tunnel, then drove up to a rather fancy looking building. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to walk into. The fertility clinic has such a calming feeling about it. Whether it be just the warm earthy colors of the décor, random pictures of gorgeous little babies and adorable children names on the walls, or the reassurance of the staff that everything will indeed be okay, I could tell that this was a special place. As my sisters and I sat awaiting my name to be called, I couldn’t help but think how in a blink of an eye, this could be the only way I have children of my own.

After multiple vials of blood were taken, basic vitals, and medical history, I was escorted to a room with a table in the middle, 4 chairs, and the most comforting sage green walls. There was a shelf with medical statues, multiple pamphlets, and magazines spread throughout the room. My sisters were by my side so I knew everything would be alright… but the fear of the unknown throughout this entire journey continues to be a little overwhelming.

John had to go to work because the prior day he took off of work to come to my tests with me, so Sam and Jill were my co-pilots. As the doctor finally arrived and began to go over the process, benefits, and risks… my head began to spin. The doctor stated “there is a risk that the medication you have to be on is going to increase your estrogen and could spread your cancer”. My heart instantly crumbled into a million pieces. “That’s it” I thought to myself. Do I risk my health and life just to have children of my own? My sister’s face said it all, this is not even an option. I instantly texted John to explain the risks of this whole crazy process to which his response was “You are the most important thing in my life, I want you to be safe. We can always adopt when we are ready”. The physician stepped out and let me have time to discuss things with my sisters as she went to call my oncologist to discuss the risks. I instantly broke into tears.

My sisters are younger than me, 24 and 22 years old (yes we are all two years apart). It was hard to discuss these things with them when from their point of view I don’t need kids… I’m too young… I’m already dealing with so much. For me, this is my future. Right now at the age of 26 and after finding out I have breast cancer only 2 weeks ago, I have to decide what steps to take in order to make sure I at least have a chance to have my own children… talk about stress! Truth is, John and I have talked about having kids on numerous occasions. Despite what he may say in public, one of John’s greatest dreams is to coach his kids in sports, he will be an absolutely amazing father. I stepped out of the room to call John, and it was as if all my worries instantly went away. He just has that was of calming me down.

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I went back to the room and the physician returned. “Good news” she explained. “I just talked to your oncologist and they got the results of your PET scan, the cancer is isolated in the tumor and 1 lymph node it is safe to proceed”. My sisters and I instantly (again) burst into tears. I’m not sure the physician was exactly supposed to tell me that those results were back, but that was the best news I’ve heard in days! The heaviest weight was finally lifted!  (The above picture is our celebration meal Dunkin Donuts DUH!) With those few words, I was ready to start the process of freezing my eggs.

I was walked down to another room for an ultrasound of my ovaries. The room was dark, the technician was young and there was a changing room on the opposite side of the bed with stirrups. I was instructed to take everything off from waist down, and I could keep my dress on, walk out with one of the paper sheets for my lap and sit on the table with my legs in the stirrups. PARENTAL ADVISORY for the rest of this post…

The technician described the test because I had never had an ultrasound of my ovaries before. I was instructed that the wand would only enter about an inch into me (about as far as a tampon). The technician explained that it would be more comfortable if I inserted it myself then she would perform the test. With my legs bent up in the stirrups, sheet across my lap, I reached for the wand, inserted it and the technician began manipulating it while watching the computer screen to see where she was going. She turned the wand side by side looking at both of my ovaries… it didn’t hurt but it was a little bit uncomfortable. Truthfully it felt like time had stopped because it was taking so long, then she said “okay your all done!”.

I returned to the closet, cleaned up a bit and went to the little room where my sisters were waiting for me. The physician returned to tell me I have 11 eggs visible in one ovary and 9 in the other, so with all the fertility medication, and perfect timing all should go well. Another nurse entered the room with a huge bag of medications. She taught me how to inject myself into the stomach and instructed me on the very specific times each medication had to be administered.

I have decided to freeze both eggs (provided by me) and embryos (provided by me and John, our little petri dish babies! And yes… if one is a girl it’s name will be Elsa Koziel, get it, she is frozen 🙂  ) — I’ve thought about this a little too much! If my genetic testing comes back that I have a gene for breast cancer, they can test individual eggs however embryos have a better chance of maturing so why not do both!

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With God’s good graces all will turn out exactly what is planned for me… now I’m off to shoot myself in the stomach, wish me luck!

XOXO

Meghan

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Two weeks ago I was a normal 26 year old girl. I was living in Pittsburgh with my amazing fiancé, working at a job I loved, raising a crazy puppy, planning a fabulous wedding for next year, and trying to sort through family feuds to make the holidays not such a fight. Two Thursdays ago my life changed forever!

I felt a lump in my right breast earlier this year around the time of my leg reconstructive surgery. I went to my doctor like I was supposed to do, and she said it was normal. “You’re young, cancer doesn’t run in your family, it’s just along the milk duct, these things happen”. In my heart I knew it wasn’t right, but it was so relieving to hear from a doctor that it was okay. I actually remember going home and joking to John saying “My tumor is okay!” Not even knowing it was a tumor.

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Months went by and I was healing from my leg surgery, when I noticed the lump was getting bigger. If people hugged me, I felt it, when I would touch it, it felt noticeably larger! It didn’t move as much as it used to, and it felt so sore! I knew something was wrong. I remembered the advice my doctor had gave me, “when it is sore, massage it and use heat”. Anyone who works in healthcare knows you never massage or use heat on cancer because it could spread. But, a doctor told me to do it.

Two Thursdays ago I called my doctor again and they told me they were booked till the end of the month. I called my PCP, told my boss I had a doctor appointment and had to leave early, and around 4:00 pm on October 18th my PCP was rushing me for a STAT ultrasound of my breast. She immediately sent me downstairs thinking I could get it done right there at her facility, but the doctor on staff had already left for the day. I was referred to the Breast Cancer Center at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh for an appointment the following day.

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It was a longggg night waiting for a call in the morning about an appointment. Friday finally arrived and I had to be up early for an appointment at my orthopedist for my leg. Good news! That X-ray went well… “On the X-ray the bone is healed!” the doctor announced. Then why am I still having pain?  The doctor explained, “You have tibial stress syndrome, but this is a small complication compared to what could’ve happen through the recovery for this procedure”. They ended up casting my leg in a beautiful rainbow dinosaur cast with glitter that John had so graciously designed! I was told to remain non-weightbearing for two weeks using crutches then come back for a followup appointment.

After that appointment I immediately headed over to a walk-in ultrasound because they didn’t have any scheduled appointments. I was told to follow the signs to the “Cancer Center”.  With John by my side, I hobbled my way across the parking lot following the signs and I remember saying to him, “don’t worry it’s only called the cancer center because thats where they do these tests”.  Looking back, I think deep down I sort of had a feeling that something was way wrong.

We followed the signs and ended up in the Breast Center.  I can not rave enough at how amazing that staff was.  Being October, (that’s breast cancer awareness month for anyone who doesn’t know) they were all wearing pink, had smiles on their faces, and were so kind to me.  I was trembling in sparkly dinosaur cast… but they made me feel so comfortable.

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My name was called and I was escorted back to a changing room.  After I changed into a typical hospital gown, I was asked to sit in the patient waiting room.  As I scanned the room, it was me with about 5 other older women all dressed in the same hideous, bland gowns that they expect patients to just feel okay about wearing!  Whoever invented that pattern is seriously mistaken because there is nothing more degrading than thinking you may be sick and having to change into a bland gown that every other sick person is wearing.  (This is next on my list to be changed.. stay tuned 🙂 )

Soon after sitting in the patient waiting room, I was taken back to the ultrasound room.  The tech was amazing, she instantly calmed me right down and made me feel comfortable pulling out my boob, putting warm gooey gel on it and rubbing the ultra sound wand all around.  I knew something was instantly wrong when she said she would be right back she just wanted to speak with the doctor.  She returned and said she was going to do a mammogram.

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I’ve heard so many scary things about mammograms.  How they hurt so bad, the machine squishes your boob yada yada… Here’s the real truth!  The machine needs to be completely re-invented, a man totally created it (sorry guys). It’s nothing I ever imagined.  I would have thought it was something with two cut outs that you slide you boob into and it squishes and takes pictures… WRONG!  It is simply this plate that moves in all different directions with a table that moves up and down. Literally you lay your boob on the table (girls like me with lack there of… this is quit a difficult task), then the tech pulls your boob while the cold metal plate literally comes down and makes a hamburger of your tit!  Oh! And even better, you don’t have to just do one quick picture, the machine moves all around so they literally have to go around your boob with this plate and squished plate smashing your boob (and in my case tumor)!  Okay, it sounds bad on paper and anyone that knows me may know I might be being a tid bit dramatic… it doesn’t hurt as much as I expected. Actually it really wouldn’t have hurt at all if my tumor wasn’t so sore to touch.

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^^^^my favorite doctor 🙂 (this picture was found online through name search on google)

Next I went back to the ultra sound room, the tech went to find the doctor and they both returned to the room.  A man in a white lab coat with a bandaid on his nose, bald head, and bright spunky attitude entered the room.  In the back of my mind I just knew they found something.  This very outspoken man introduced himself as Dr. Pollard and immediately said, “hold on i’ll be right back, I have to pee”.  Obviously he knew I was scared out of my wits and this was just the person I needed to enter and make me smile!  Upon his return, I joked that I hope he washed his hands and he very frankly said “we found something”.  He asked who came with me and brought John back into the room.  As John entered and came to hold my hand I burst into tears.

Dr. Pollard explained that he wanted to perform a biopsy.  He began prepping the room and nicely ordering his tech and assistant to obtain the items he needed to make the room sterile.  John was asked to step out and before he left he grabbed my hand and kissed me on the head saying “we’re going to get through this”.  As I laid staring at the ceiling with tears falling down my face… there was fear of the uncertain, but I have yet to be fearful or scared that something is out of control or so terribly wrong that there is no return… basically from the beginning I knew that “every little thing is gonna be alright” — Bob Marley reference 😉

Biopsy

Dr. Pollard explained that they would be using local anesthesia (meaning a needle in my boob with a numbing agent) and ultra sound guidance (meaning the ultra sound was their eyes).  He explained how they were sampling 1 lymph node in my axilla (or near my arm pit) that seemed to be swollen, and the main tumor (which is positioned more toward the center of my chest in my Right breast).  As the needle for the numbing medicine jabbed back and forth, Dr. Pollard’s tech was holding my hand and coaching me to breath.  I sat as still as possible with my right arm positioned above my head as they gathered the sampled that they needed.  Every time he reached a sample he could use, he would press on the needle and it would let out a click.  It basically cut off a piece of the tissue, he then pulled it out of my boob and placed it in a petri dish.

After taking six samples, I could finally breath easy because it was all done with.  They brought John back in, I got dressed and was told the results wouldn’t be in until the following Monday or Tuesday but they would be ordered STAT.  I left wearing ice packs in my bra throughout the day and with strict rules for no lifting more than 5 lbs… this also made using crutches practically impossible to use.  Now the pain of waiting had to begin…

It was 5:00 pm on Monday October 12, 2015 when I got the news that the results were in… I have breast cancer!

xoxo

Mego Franz

The Support Is Unreal!

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WOW! Over the past couple of days we have seen such AMAZING support from both friends and family that it is unreal!! It is an understatement to say how blessed and appreciative we feel for all of this support. Every day, there are always new pictures and videos posted of Meghan’s team wearing PINK and supporting her 1000%! It is truly amazing to know everyone is doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. I wanted to give a quick shout out to all of the posts and the many many posts to come! Each picture and message brings a huge smile to Meghan’s face!! Let’s keep this trend going and keep wearing pink for the upmost positive vibes!

Let’s reach Meghan’s goal of raising $20k! We raised over $15,400 in only 4 days. Meghan give’s back to so many people.. she deserves us to give back to her! Donate here for her medical bills and donate to Jamie’s Dream Team for her wedding.

We love you all so very much!

SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT!!

Xo, Jillian

I Do.

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So.. Meghan and John were planning on getting married next year September 3, 2016. But since life happens we have to plan Meg’s wedding in 2 weeks and they need to get married October 31, 2015 before Meghan starts her treatments. The reason they have to get married so quickly is because Meg is only 26, and unfortunately she is off my Dad’s insurance in December. Meg is going to be going through a lot of extensive and expensive treatments and needs to be on John’s insurance. It isn’t the ideal situation but today we found our guardian angels.

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My aunt reached out to the non profit organization, Jamie’s Dream Team. We hopped on a phone call with them and they quickly explained to us that they will make Meg’s dream wedding come true and Meg doesn’t need to worry about paying for anything because she is going to have a lot of medical bills after her treatments are through. We are only taking care of the food and they are helping us get a discount..that is out of this world. When Meg found out the news she was in tears. Her tears were of joy because Jamie and her team are helping us plan Meg’s ultimate dream princess wedding. Meg deserves everything that we are planning for her. She is going to feel like Cinderella and arrive to her wedding in a horse and carriage.. no joke.. Jamie is a guardian angel thats how.

Cindy and I went to The Waterfront to meet with Jamie and her Mom. We sat down and went through Meghan’s whole wedding dream book. From the videographer, dj, photographer, makeup, photo booth.. we can’t even begin to explain how much this means to us. Planning a wedding is stressful enough, but going through breast cancer, insurance, and planning a wedding that would be very rough.

Jamie’s Dream Team is going to give Meghan the most amazing wedding in the world. For it to be possible to plan a wedding in 2 weeks and for Meghan not to pay for it is absolutely a blessing. We are so extremely grateful for Jamie and her team. We would love for you to donate to Jamie’s Dream Team because they are truly miracle workers and have accomplished over 1,000 wishes throughout the country. They are a blessing and they are our angels we are eternally grateful.

We will keep you updated on Meghan and her journey. We are all in such good spirits, and are in a positive mood. We will beat the shit out of this cancer as a family and we will win.

Thank you everyone for all your support. If you would like to donate to Meghan’s wedding please go to Jamie’s Dream Team and click donate. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

xoxo

Samii Ryan

Time to place a port!

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October 16, 2015

This morning Meghan went into surgery to have her port placed. This port will afford her the opportunity to easily receive her Chemo treatments. Her surgeon Dr. Cowher is a straight forward, funny, and very competent physician. She is in great hands!

Before Meghan went into surgery she said “I’m so tired anesthesia won’t even have to put me out– I’m just going to fall asleep!” When the surgeon came out he said the surgery went perfectly except “It took a little bit longer than usual to put her to sleep…her muscles just wouldn’t relax.” HAHAHA. Dr. Cowher was great and explained that everything went excellent and she should recover well. It will take about a week for the port to heal until it can be used.

Meghan recovered in less than an hour, ate, got her makeup done and left for the wedding! Nothing can hold her down!

WHAT’S NEXT?

Monday: Baby Koziels will be frozen and preserved for a later date 🙂

Tuesday: MRI and PET scan testing

SPARKLE ON*

The Brightest Light

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Monday, October 12, 2015 we got the news that my 26 year old sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Of course when I found out I was with my Dad in San Diego we were in a CVS. He turned to me and said.. it’s cancer. Immediately I said, your joking… but he wasn’t. The shock wave took over my body and a ball swelled up in my throat. Was this really happening? Was this really happening to my older sister who was only 26 years old? Tears streamed down my face as I was on the phone with my little sister. She was in hysterically crying to me. When Jill was 16, her best friend was diagnosed with brain cancer. It was really difficult on Jill and I felt as if she was having some sort of PTSD when she found out the news about Meghan.

Even though tears were rolling down my rosy cheek I didn’t have any negative thoughts in my mind. I only knew that she was going to be able to fight this and defeat it. I knew that I had to be the one to be strong and tell my family that as long as we stay positive, keep it light, and support her with overwhelming love that even this won’t dull her sparkle.

Meghan is my older sister and has a heart of gold. We always have gotten into fights but I guess thats what happens when you have sisters that are each 2 years apart. I am the middle child so I was the one my parents made the rules for. Meg was the one that made the rules, and Jill was the one that the rules didn’t apply to. Meg has went to Guyana twice to help the boy orphanage. Every year she raised money and sent Christmas presents to the children. One year it was over $1000 to ship all the presents that she received from people.. but she didn’t care. She only wanted to help them and bring a little sparkle to their life.

I know in my heart of hearts that Meghan is going to be okay. It is going to be a journey but we are all ready to fight and kick cancers ass. This blog is for you to follow Meg’s journey, whether you know her or not your support means the world. Meg, Jill, me, and my cousin Cindy will be updating this blog for you so you know everything that is going on.

For me writing out my feelings helps me cope with the present. She Sparkles is a way for all of us to get out all of our intense emotions about what Meghan is going through. We know she will beat breast cancer, she will win this battle and we will be with her every step of the way. Meg has touched so many people’s lives it is time for us to touch hers.

If you would like to donate to Meghan’s journey you can HERE. And if you can’t donate just your prayers and support are enough to keep her sparkle shining bright.

xoxo

Samii Ryan