Megan Tkacy is an editor, writer and avid music, football and cheese lover. She resides in Boston with her loving boyfriend, but she spends most of her holidays in her Midwestern homeland. Megan is passionate about helping others and sharing empowering stories and information.
How was your loved one's cancer diagnosis discovered?
My mom discovered her lung cancer when she was experiencing symptoms similar to pneumonia and COVID-19. Her doctor found the tumor during their chest X-ray. She was a lifelong smoker but no one is ever ready for a cancer diagnosis.
What is the biggest piece of advice you have for supporters of newly diagnosed patients?
To take care of yourself, to make time for yourself, but to also talk about the cancer and what could happen. My mom was so afraid of death and she needed to talk about it, which was hard for me but it brought her so much peace. Along with that, I also recommend letting them talk about whatever they want and resisting the urge to "there there" them and say it's "going to be OK." As they say, it's OK to not be OK sometimes, and cancer is definitely one of those times.
What is the most important thing you learned from your cancer experience?
That the person you love will one day be unable to talk, eat and even bathe, and that each moment really is incredibly important. In the movies, everyone seems to die instantly or painlessly in their sleep, and that's just now how real life plays out. I wish I had been prepared for just how hard those final days would be. Seeing your mother, the person who raised you and cared for you, suddenly be immobile and unresponsive was so heartbreaking.
What was the most difficult aspect of organizing your care/community?
I think this answer is much the same as #5 — I didn't realize just how hard it would be for everyone else. My brother couldn't handle it at all, so my father and me mostly took the lead on caring for my mother. My aunt was a huge help, too, but there came a point where she just couldn't see her sister like that. It was difficult seeing my mom go from being a social butterfly to "trapped" in her home and either turning away guests or people being scared to come over. She was stubborn, which I loved her for, and it took a long time for her to accept our help. It was difficult because toward the end, there wasn't much we could do with home hospice to make her comfortable that didn't also make her sick.
What are three words you would use to describe your cancer experience?
Emotional, Challenging, Fulfilling
Are there products, services, experiences or physicians that you couldn't be without?
I couldn't have gotten through this without the team of experts at Hospice Alliance in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Not only did they arm us with a giant binder of information, but they also made regular house calls to speak to my mom and us. It also was really helpful to talk to my friend, whose mother had recently died from cancer. I do wish that a website like this would have been around when I was helping her because I felt so lost.
Interested in connecting with Megan?
Follow Megan on Instagram @MeganTkacy or send her a message at email@example.com
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