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Guest Post: New to Diabetes. New to Motherhood. New to Cancer.

Meghan's story is honestly one of the most amazing and terrifying whirlwinds I have ever heard of.  She went from "completely healthy" to a person with type 1 diabetes, then a new mom, and then a person with cancer ... all in the span of 18 months.  Her story is an important one to be told, and I'm really honored to be hosting her words here today.
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My name is Meghan.  I am a type 1 diabetic.  I am a new mommy.  I am a cancer survivor.  I am only 27 years old.  When diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year, I scoured the internet for info pertaining to both Type 1 and cancer.  I found nothing.  I hope to provide at least ONE resource for people that might find themselves in a similar, unfortunate situation.

This is my story.

When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in April of 2009, I was completely caught off guard.  I was a healthy person, or so I thought.  I ended up getting a Dexcom and Omnipod within six months of diagnosis.  Obviously diabetes was a huge change to my life routine.  My beta cells were still cranking out tiny bits of insulin, so I decided to take advantage of the “honeymoon period” and plan a pregnancy, figuring that would be the best time for blood glucose management. A short while later, on November 1, 2010, my husband and I welcomed our son into our lives. 

And when my baby was less than three weeks old, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  It was such a shock.  I only had a very slight pain in my chest that turned out to be a tumor the size of a baseball just above my heart.  When I heard that news, I knew my world and sense of security had changed, once again.  I was about to begin the fight FOR my life.  I remember yelling at the doctor who told me the news – “I was JUST diagnosed with diabetes, are you kidding me!!!”  I was so scared of what was to come.  Not physically, but emotionally.  I already thought that the burden of diabetes was too much.  I wasn’t sure I could handle my new reality as well.

Ironically, right after my diabetes diagnosis, I remember asking my husband “What will happen some day when I am like 80 and get diagnosed with cancer?  Will my cure be harder to come by?”  Who would have ever thought that fear would become my reality at just 26.  During my first meeting with my oncologist, I made it clear that I did not want diabetes to change my odds.  My 90% chance of a forever cure would not drop because of diabetes.  I received the same four chemo drugs as every Hodgkin’s patient.  I got the same dose of the steroid Decadron before every treatment (and had the pleasure of my pump dying during the process).  The only difference?  I had to think of crazy basal rate adjustments before getting the steroids and for two days after each chemo.  I think it was 3.5 units/hour!  My BG consistently ran 250+ for a few days after every treatment.  There was nothing I could do to lower it.  I stopped caring, I just wanted to survive.

Perhaps the part of cancer I found most challenging for diabetes was a PET Scan (actually two in my case).  In a nutshell, this test provides the doctor with a full body picture that illuminates areas of active cancer.  It is accomplished by the injection of radioactive glucose into a patient in a fasting state without insulin.  I couldn’t have food after midnight.  My first PET, I was still experiencing some postpartum blood glucose swings and was always low around 5 am and usually still requiring a snack at that time.  I tried to compensate with an 11:30 pm pasta binge.  With a PET Scan, you also can’t have insulin for three hours before the test.  Oh yes, and your blood sugar must be below 200 in order for the test to be functional!  Talk about a diabetic nightmare!  Of course I failed the process, twice.

As in every situation, it is important to find humor.  I remember waking up from my second biopsy to find my husband in deep thought pondering the placement and insertion of a new pod and Dexcom sensor (my doctor was very concerned that a blood sugar of 180 mg/dL be corrected, immediately.  Seriously?!?)  Watching him fiddle with the bolus function while I later downed pudding made me laugh (and made me nervous). He is now a professional when it comes to all things diabetes related!  I can’t even count the number of times I have had to rely on his diabetes-judgment and skills over the past year!  He has made me feel less alone in my little diabetes world.

Meghan and her adorable son!!
Meghan and her completely adorable son

As of today, I am in remission.  Through all of this I’ve learned that it’s hard when deciding how much to share with others, both about cancer AND diabetes independently.  I struggle with sharing too much about what happened in fear of pushing others away – with sharing just enough in hopes that they might understand me better but still see me as normal. 

Cancer was hard, the process grueling and I had a newborn.  But we made it.  I am on the other side looking back with a new insight – Life is simply amazing, especially since I know I am not supposed to be here.

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Meghan has graciously shared her email, meghan.manor@gmail.com, if you want to reach out to her.  Thank you again, Meghan, and we are so glad you are here! 

Comments

What an amazing, amazing personal story. Sitting here in awe re: Meghan's strength and commitment to reaching out to others.

I have T1. My niece is a Hodgkin's survivor. I think that Meghan is an amazing person. Wow. Thanks to her for sharing her story.

You are amazing, but also a lucky woman to have a husband who is so involved in your diabetes. Best of luck to you, with your attitude I'm certain you will do just fine.

YOU'RE AMAZING! When I try to choose the worst thing about diabetes, I often go with the fact that it doesn't block all of the world's many other diseases. I loved reading your story and am so glad you shared it!

wow! what an amazing story, meghan! so glad you are still here to tell it! i hope the next few years are nice and boring for you! ;)

also, you and my friend babs should chat. she has been diagnosed with diabetes and breast cancer in the last two years (http://babscampbell.wordpress.com/its-just-me/).

best to you and your family!

I have goosebumps reading this. My heart so goes out to you Meghan and I think you are my new hero! Thank you Kerri for sharing her story. I think a You Can Do This entry is needed for this amazing story!

Awesome post. Thanks for sharing your story.

That is an incredible story, Meghan! Thank you for sharing it with us!

Meghan- Thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes I feel like caring for T1 for the past 22 years is overwhelming, but I can't even imagine trying to balance diabetes, cancer and a newborn. How in the world you ever managed to get diabetes to behave for that PET scan is beyond me! Best of luck with everything. xoxo

Wow. Meghan, you are amazing. I cannot imagine the strength it would take to handle a newborn, manage diabetes AND deal with cancer. You're beautiful and an inspiration. Thank you for sharing.

Meghan..you are amazing and an inspiration. Thank you for sharing. The day my daughter was diagnosed with diabetes she was also diagnosed with a heart condition. I was a walking zombie for two months...but we forge forward. That was 4 years ago and her heart condition has been corrected. I feel blessed every day to have her in my life. Still, there are days with just diabetes I struggle to get thru it all. Hearing your story with your positive attitude helps to put things back into perspective. Wishing you all the best..here's to a life of enjoying that beautiful little boy!

Meghan, you are absolutely amazing! Any one of those things is difficult to juggle -- diabetes, a newborn and cancer. I cannot wrap my head around how you juggled all three. What an amazing and courageous woman you are! I imagine you have a spectacular husband and support system around you, and I bet you used that adorable son of yours as inspiration and motivation to fight. ! I'm so proud of you for managing diabetes with a cancer diagnosis all while taking care of a newborn. Congrats on the remission, and I will pray it stays that way. I believe you are stronger than anyone I've met before. Thank you for sharing your story!

I've kept up with Meghan through her blog and I am so glad she shared her amazing story! So glad you are doing great Meghan! :)

Dear Meghan,
Thank you for sharing your story. There is so much for we Type I's to deal with, and I appreciate how you've expressed that sense of "More? Really?" I also appreciate the honesty of this post regarding blood sugars, survival, steroids, etc. It's so easy for others to judge our numbers, while we Type I's know that sometimes mere survival, or emotional equanimity, or simply some fun matter more at times. Best wishes to you and your family!

Thanks for sharing your story. I feel we are kindred spirits. I was diagnosed with T1, June 2009 and stage 3 breast cancer in March of this year. My reaction was quite similar to yours. . What the fructose???

I'm happy to hear you're in remission and doing well. I'm in radiation therapy currently and will have another surgery in February. Whew! It's been a long year.

Thanks again for posting, it's great to meet you! Babs

Dang, I wish I'd read this before I posted that whiny rant on my blog today. You are an inspiration!

Wow - thanks so much for posting! Here I was feeling squeamish about an upcoming MRI and thinking, our son has T1 - haven't we paid our dues?
Meghan, you're incredible and deserve every bit of happiness! All the best for your amazing family.

Meghan,
Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. I have a lot of respect for you. Congratulations on your beautiful son and your new lease on life. You are an inspiration

Wow! You are a true hero! Thank you for sharing your story. Thanks Kerri for introducing us to Meghan.

I read this the day it was posted - I wanted to comment but didn't know what to say. Wow. Still have no words. You are incredible!! We can see the strength in your smile. All the best to you and your beautiful family!

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