In 1988 my parents sat me down at the kitchen table to inform me that my grandmother had breast cancer. 20 years later, I received a phone call from one of my closest friends, Megan Lally, to inform me that she had breast cancer. In 1990, my grandmother died of breast cancer surrounded by family. 21 years later, Megan passed away from breast cancer surrounded by her family. Both women were fighters, but were no match for breast cancer.
I met Megan at Bishop Stang High School. After a long day, we were both waiting for our parents to pick us up. Megan’s long blonde hair hung loose and while sitting on the ground, she began to play the guitar. I asked her if she knew a Pink Floyd song that was “stringy.” Somehow, she knew what I meant, and started to play, “Wish You Were Here.” That one song sparked a friendship that lasted until her death at the age of 30.
Megan and I spent most of our high school years together and I was always in admiration of her talents. She was an artist, a writer, a mathematician, a quilter. A true Renaissance Woman. There was nothing Megan could not do. It would be a lie to say that at times I was jealous of her ability to capture someone’s expression in a sketch and the next moment answer the most complicated physics question.
If it wasn’t for Megan, I never would have met my husband. If it wasn’t’ for Megan, I never would have learned the basics of calculus in college; If it wasn’t for Megan, I never would have laughed every day in high school; if it wasn’t for Megan, I might not have known what true friendship was about. If it wasn’t for Megan, I wouldn’t have known the unbearable pain of losing a friend at such a young age. If it wasn’t for Megan, I wouldn’t be training for a 200 mile relay race to raise money for breast cancer research. Every step I take while running, every time I want to give up, I keep going, for Megan.
I remember when I first heard the diagnosis for Megan, I never thought she couldn’t beat it. This was Megan, the girl who ran half marathons, brewed her own beer, made her own wedding dress. There was nothing she couldn’t do and in my mind that included beating cancer. This was going to be just another victory for her. I also thought, she’s young and the advances in cancer treatment must be so much better than in 1988. But I was wrong. The vitality and advancement in science were not enough for Megan.
To this day, almost 5 years after her death, I can’t hear “Wish you were here” without crying. There is nothing I can do to bring her back but there is something I can do so others don’t feel this pain. Myself and 11 other individuals are running in the Ragnar Reach the Beach 200 mile relay race. We are raising money for breast cancer research at UMASS Medical Center in Worcester. I know everyday people are asking for money, for so many worthy causes, but if you could donate $5, that might be all we need to save one more person. I don’t want others to feel this pain and when I look at my daughter, Megan, I never want to tell her that breast cancer won again.