'I Shouldn't Be Here'

Megan Clark rings the victory bell after completing her 12th round of chemotherapy in 2017. Tests after ringing the bell showed her cancer free.

During chemotherapy in 2017, Megan lost approximatley 60 percent of her hair. New therapy that Megan must undergo in her current treatment will cause her to lose all of her hair.

Sigourney, Iowa- To describe Megan Clark as a fighter is perhaps an understatement. Clark has been battling cancer for nearly two years now and through all the ups and downs of the journey has always kept a fighting mentality and a positive mental attitude. However, cancer is not keeping her away from her passion: art.

 

Megan Clark has always loved art. Ever since she was a child, Clark wanted to be an artist, when she decorated and painted the walls of her room.

 

“I grew up pretty much free spirited. My parents allowed me to paint, be creative. My room had like six different personalities, it was awesome,” Clark said. “I think that kept me out of trouble and kept my mind going,” she added.

 

Clark grew up near Omaha, however her father grew up in the Sigourney area. When she talked about going to school for Art, her dad said that maybe she didn’t need to do that.

 

“He says ‘you already have it in you, you don’t need to go to school for it,’” Clark said.

 

Clark eventually moved to Sigourney with her children and in November 2010, she began selling art online and showing art in various shows. Life went on for Megan until October 2016, when she started to have severe pain. Initially thinking it was digestive issues, Megan ended up visiting the ER. One ER visit turned into eight ER visits. After being unsure of what was wrong, finally Dr. Brian Murphy ordered a scan that found the cancer. 

 

“He saved my life,” Clark said of Dr. Murphy.

 

Clark was diagnosed in January 2017 and was ready to fight the cancer from the beginning.

 

“It’s painful to be negative. It’s physically painful to be negative,” Clark said of her positive mental attitude throughout all of this.

 

Clark went to the University of Iowa for treatment. Prior to surgery, she had a consult with an oncologist to figure out a course of treatment.

 

“What the surgeon said was ‘you need surgery yesterday,’” Clark said of the urgency in her treatment.

 

On the day of her surgery, Megan was wheeled into the University of Iowa and high fived all her doctors as she prepared for surgery.

 

“That’s my thing, I high five everybody,” she said.

 

During surgery, it was discovered that a tumor was blocking her 99 percent of her intestine and it was about ready to burst.

 

“I didn’t realize how close to death I was,” she said.

 

Further testing after her surgery found that 4 of 40 lymph nodes in her body had cancer in them. As a result, more testing had to be done. Unfortunately, that testing showed the cancer had spread to the Megan’s liver, with the cancer being declared stage 4. 

 

“This time I was mad, because this wasn’t in my plan for my children. I wasn’t mad that I was going through this. I’m strong enough to go through this. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But to watch my children having to watch me go through it…” she recounted.

 

Clark said she told her children that she was going to fight the cancer no matter what and that it was only thing she could promise.

 

“Once I said that and looked them in their eyes, they calmed down,” she recalled.

 

After that diagnosis, Megan said she had one more scan coming up at that time.

 

“I said ‘I don’t want you do to that scan because I don’t want any more bad news. I don’t want you do it.’ I knew in my heart that they had to do it but I told them I don’t want the results,” she said.

 

The scan of Megan’s lungs showed them to be cancer free, meaning the cancer had not spread even further.

 

Megan was required to go through 12 rounds of chemotherapy for her treatment. Between the fourth and fifth round, she had another scan. It was discovered that that chemotherapy was working. This meant that she had surgery to remove five tumors on her liver. 

 

The surgery was a success, with Megan being told that they were able to get all of the cancer, with one area to keep an eye on in the future. Megan finished all of her remaining rounds of chemotherapy and had a party to celebrate her final round. A final scan after chemotherapy showed no evidence of cancer. 

 

In January 2018, she asked her doctor to remove her port used for chemotherapy. Her doctor agreed to do so but noted that it would have to be put back in if her cancer removed. After having the port relapsed, she had regular bloodwork done to check her progress. Her bloodwork came back as having cancer levels more elevated than when she was first diagnosed. Megan had a scan done and was given heart wrenching news.

 

“I had the scan done and there was a mass in my ovary and it was the size of a softball,” she recounted.

 

It was later discovered that this resurgence of the cancer was not necessarily from the cancer spreading itself. 

 

“We found out that that was basically an accident. That wasn’t the cancer spreading. What happened was in during one of my other surgeries, probably the initial one, a cancer cell dropped onto my ovary during surgery and basically since ovaries multiply cells, my ovaries were doing their job and multiplying the cancer cells,” she said.

 

To treat the latest resurgence, Clark had a Hipec procedure done.

 

“It’s in incision from my sternum all the way down and they pour heated chemo inside your body and swish it around and then leave it in there for an hour and try to kill everything in there, and then drain it. That chemo is like a hundred times stronger than the chemo I was on,” she said.

 

Megan had the tumor removed, as well as her Ovary. At the time the tumor was removed, it was the size of a cantaloupe and weighed about one pound. The surgery was considered to be a success. Life continued on for Megan, as she went forward with her treatment plan. Megan had another routine scan in July 2018. During this scan, doctors made yet another discovery.

 

“I was healing up from that and then I had scans and found out it’s in my lungs,” she recalled.

 

After being told that the cancer had spread to her lungs, Megan was given perhaps worse news: there were multiple lesions of inoperable cancer on her lungs. Megan said that she knew it would be difficult to tell her children.

 

“I apologized to them and said ‘I’m sorry you have to go through this,’” she said.

 

However, Megan’s fighting spirit rose up and she determined that she was not going to let the most recent update keep her down. She was told she would have to do additional rounds of chemotherapy. As opposed to her first chemotherapy, which didn’t cause her to lose all of her hair, Megan was told she would not be able to keep her hair in the newest rounds of chemotherapy. After she was told she was going to lose her hair, Megan took matters into her own hand.

 

“It devastated me that my hair would be gone. It’s a vanity thing, but your hair is just part of who you are. So, I said that I’m going to do it myself… I wasn’t just going to let my hair fall out,” she said. “You only have so much control in this… I take control where I can,” she said. 

 

A friend of Megan offered to document Megan cutting her hair off. It was a quiet, intimate affair with Megan and a couple of her friends as she did what she could to take control of what she did. After she had finished cutting her hair, another friend of Megan’s asked her to hand her the clippers so she could cut off her hair too. Megan said the gesture was very touching to her.

 

“Who does that? It just shows the support the type of support… It means so much. It’s just kind of how it is here in this town. Everybody has been so supportive and yes, I’m fighting this solo but I’m not,” she said in reflecting on the support she has been shown.

 

Megan added through this process she has learned how much she is loved, something that a lot of people don’t ever experience.

 

“Most people never know how much they’re loved until their funeral… Most people don’t know that,” she said. “Going through this, I know that. I guess that was a gift through this. It was a gift given to me to keep going. I genuinely know my value and that’s priceless to me. So, it’s not all bad,” she also said.

 

Megan added that she has continued to adopt a positive mental attitude to her outlook on life.

 

“I also see life a little differently now. You can give me all the bad news. I’ve had all the bad news. I’ve had the worst thing that can happen to somebody,” she said.

 

Megan added that she is not giving up the fight anytime soon. 

 

“It’s like I’m fearless now. I plan on beating this. But that doesn’t come without fear,” she said. “I’ve been the 2% in all of this. If something is going to happen to 2% or 5% of people normally then you can just put me in that little spot. I was supposed to be gone. I shouldn’t be here. I expect to keep fighting it and beat it,” Clark also said.

 

Throughout all of the fight, Megan has not stopped her artwork. She has continued with her artwork in an effort to support her fight, as well as her children. Megan currently has an appointment set up at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, to have bloodwork and scans completed so she can be entered into their system. Currently, she doesn’t qualify for any treatment or clinical trial at Mayo Clinic. Getting her name into the system could provide for opportunities in the future, should she become eligible for some form of treatment. You can find out more information about Megan at https://www.gofundme.com/move-mountains-with-megsor www.amazon.com/handmaid/vongart.