Friday, October 10, 2014

Survive and Thrive Bloghop

Today I am participating in the Survive and Thrive blog hop hosted by the wonderful Alex J Cavanaugh!  The hop is not until 10/20, but being the busy college student that I am, this is the only time I could post. I have posted this story before, but thought I'd post it again for my new followers.

Warning: this post is depressing and slightly graphic. You have been warned.

I'm going to just get straight to the facts- no beating around the bush here. I am a freshman at Loyola University Chicago studying social work. When I was a 15-year-old sophomore, I heard the three words that nobody EVER wants to hear: you have cancer.

As Anthony Delmonte once said, “Cancer is never a face until it affects you or someone you know”. Cancer became a face to me on November 15, 2011-- a day I will never forget. On that day, I was diagnosed with a rare type of sarcoma on my The whole thing started on 
October 5, 2011. I had an appointment with the dermatologist. I had been noticing a bump on my scalp that had been there for about 5 years. During the appointment, she gave me the option of having it biopsied because it looked red, which concerned her. I thought about it for a few minutes and then reluctantly agreed to the procedure. 

The biopsy was terrible. I had to receive shots of local anesthesia in my head. On top of that, I had to deal with worrying about bad test results- something that I never thought would even be a remote possibility. 

The next day, on 11/15/11, we got the phone call from the dermatologist that simply said, “You have cancer. You’re going to need more surgery. I’m sorry”. Naturally, I broke down in tears. I didn’t even know what the true definition of cancer was, but nonetheless, it was staring me in the face. I could run from it, but I couldn’t hide from it. The only thing I could do was hope that everything would eventually be ok.

The next few weeks were a huge blur. We must have seen three or four doctors. During that time, I had to get an MRI of my head to see how big the cancer was. Luckily, it was only the size of an eraser. When I heard that, a wave of relief washed over me. The thoughts of what chemotherapy and radiation left my mind, because it was now definite that I would not be needing them now. Eventually, we
decided on what hospital I’d have the surgery at, and that’s when things started moving really quickly. 

I ended up having two surgeries- one to take out the cancer and a skin graft operation to close the huge wound from the first surgery. The wound would never close by itself due to how big it was, so the doctors took a piece of skin from my leg and put it on my scalp in a second surgery. 
 I was awake and numb for the first surgery in the doctor’s office, which lasted for about 5 hours and got all of the cancer out.I was trembling the entire time. I’d never had any sort of surgery before, and this was a rude awakening for me. I’d had a few months to get ready for surgery, but honestly, you can never truly be prepared for anything until it’s actually happening to you right then and there.  
About 2 weeks after the initial surgery, I went in for a second operation that I described above. The pain was excruciating, and the whole ordeal was infinitely scarier than the first surgery because it was in an operating room rather than a doctor’s office. It also involved general anesthesia, which was the scariest part of all, I think, because I would be completely unaware of everything that was happening. When I first entered the operating room right before my surgery, I felt like I’d entered a whole new world full of white walls and people doing things to me that were beyond my control. 

  This past summer, I underwent a series of two operations to reconstruct my scalp. The skin graft from my leg obviously doesn’t grow hair, so it left me with a bald spot. The doctor inserted a balloon into my head and gradually filled it with saline solution to expand the amount of skin that can grow hair.The new skin was put over the bald spot, resulting in more hair growth. I was terrified for both surgeries, but I trusted the hospital, and more importantly the doctor, tremendously, and everything turned out better than I could have ever imagined! I do not regret going through with this surgery in the slightest. 
One funny thing about this whole ordeal is that now, I am actually fascinated by operating rooms! For my most recent surgery, I was actually looking around the room and trying to figure out what sort of equipment was there and why. I'm no doctor (my dad is), but I still am fascinated by all of this! I recognized the anesthesia machine and was relieved that it was not going to be used on me (I only had sedation).
Cancer is awful, but the most important lesson I learned is to be grateful for what I have. I could have been really ill, and I am thankful every single day that the cancer was removed by surgery alone. 


  1. So happy for your eventual positive outcome and kudos to your doctor for noticing and doing the initial test.

  2. Wow, what a terrible ordeal you had to go through. I'm so glad you recovered. IT's true, it's so important to be thankful for every single day.

  3. Very scary. Glad you're doing well. I bet you don't take anything for granted now.

  4. It sounds like you've been through something very scary, and you are extremely brave to share about your experience here.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story, Morgan. By the sound of it, you got through that like a trooper.

  6. Morgan,

    GOOD for YOU! Finally a happy cancer story. You are truly blessed that it was caught on time and the results are a happier and healthier you. Keep well! Make sure to continue test to keep yourself cancer free. This disease is a killer and can come back in many years, especially in young people. SO TAKE care and keep on it. Early detection saves your life as you have learned.

    Thanks so much for you story and joining the hop!

  7. What a blessing it was small and they got it on the first try. I would've been scared, too. More so for the one where you were awake. I want to be out for that sort of thing.

  8. I'm sorry you had to face it at such a young age, but glad there was a happy ending.
    Thanks for participating in the blogfest.

  9. You are so fortunate to have gotten a happy ending to a frightful experience. Congrats on your positive attitude.

  10. 15, so scary! Glad everything turned out okay in the end. It sounds like your doctor was really on top of things.

  11. Thank goodness you noticed the bump on your scalp, and had it looked at! The whole experience had to be frightening at any age, especially fifteen. Sorry you had to undergo such extensive surgeries. You are a very brave person, Morgan! I remember reading your story in Overcoming Adversity. Good luck at Loyola, and I wish you continued good health!


  12. I think those are 3 of the worst words in all of existence. I'm glad there are survivors though. My father wasn't one of those, but there are good stories too. I'm so glad you were able to come through it well enough, and I hope you never need to see the inside of an operation room again.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

  13. Hi Morgan, glad to hear of the positive outcome. Amazing how young cancer can strike. But fortunately we live in a time where we are getting a better handle on the disease and the treatment and preventative care for it.

    Thanks for participating in the Blogfest. Hope to see you again for next year's event!

  14. Hi Morgan - I'm so pleased you've written this and reminded us that those bumps are worth investigating. A really informative blog post - and very relevant for the Survive and Thrive bloghop ... long may you be surgery and cancer free ... cheers Hilary


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