For This Mom, Every Day is World Cancer Day
For most people in the world, Childhood Cancer Awareness is something you think about for the month of September. For Megan Fogg and her family – it’s something they have to think about every single day. It’s been just over two years since her son, Drew, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia B Cell. In this article, we chat to Megan about Drew’s road to recovery and what it’s like to be a pediatric cancer mom.
“If you quit now, you’ll end up right where you first began. And when you first began, you were desperate to be where you are right now. Keep going.”
This is just one of the many quotes Megan Fogg needs to read on a daily basis.
Her son, Drew, was diagnosed at age five with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia B Cell in April 2017. Now seven, he’s spent the last 30 months getting to say his cancer is in remission, while also receiving lumbar punctures, steroid treatments as well as oral chemotherapy as part of a maintenance plan. April 10, 2020 marks the last lumbar puncture. June 27, 2020 marks the last day of oral chemo. Yes, these dates have been highlighted and marked on the Fogg’s calendar.
During the month of September, Megan posted every day on social media about the realities of childhood cancer with the hope that it would help lift the curtain on what life is actually like for children like Drew.
Megan explains, ‘I know in the beginning more people stop scrolling and actually read and look at what I post. I also know that as the month goes on, it is easier to just simply scroll past and push aside our reality. It is easier to look the other way. But we do not get to look the other way and we never will again. This will be our journey for the rest of Drew’s life. But, we are so grateful that we have those words in our future – THE REST OF DREW’S LIFE.
When you hear the words, “Your child has cancer,” you don’t know what the future will hold. You don’t know if cancer will take your child’s life or if the treatment will. You don’t know if the evil beast will rear its ugly head again days, months or years down the road. You start a life with many unknowns, so you learn to live focusing on each individual day, each individual bridge as it comes. We know families and children who have had to face that excruciating reality of relapse and death. We, ourselves, have had heart wrenching conversations with our 5 then 6 and now 7-year-old regarding his own fears of death.
The fact is that at his young age, Drew’s understanding of death is better than that of most adults. He recalls specific moments of treatment where he genuinely felt like maybe, “He wouldn’t make it to the end.” – his exact words. Death is not a topic we have intentionally chosen to discuss in front of him, but these thoughts are in his every day reality. When something is right in front of you, you can’t help but develop an understanding. He has asked at many times, “Will I die from cancer?” Our answer is always the same, “Oh, buddy, that is exactly why Dr. Ramirez is fighting so hard for you. That is why we do all the chemotherapy and steroids. We are doing everything we can so that you beat cancer.’
It’s okay if you’re crying right now. We are. But we’re also smiling because Megan and her husband, Ryan, have made this unimaginable hurdle into a mountain their family plans on conquering together. And conquering it they are!
When you’re five – most kids are looking forward to starting kindergarten, learning how to ride a bike, going on adventure walks and focusing on getting the best slice of birthday cake. Because of Drew’s treatment, compromised immune system and fatigue, his start of school was a bit rockier.
Now two years later, Megan proudly shares, ‘Drew is doing fantastically in school. He absolutely loves it. Art is his favorite subject. He goes to an arts-based school, so he has at least music (strings, vocals), dance, or art once a day with everything else being project based learning. He loves karate and has worked so hard. He actually graduates from yellow belt to orange belt soon. Every single time I watch, I cry. I am always blown away with how far he’s come. He could barely walk, couldn’t go up and down stairs, couldn’t get up onto a bed when he was first diagnosed. Now, he’s practicing karate three times a week – it’s amazing!’
Krystal Capone Photography
Because Drew’s Maintenance Plan is like doing Ironman after Ironman after Ironman, we asked Megan how she finds time to recharge herself to keep mothering like the superhero she is.
‘I am far from a super hero. Just a mom who has no choice but to be strong for her kiddo. Honestly, finding time for yourself is extremely difficult. I work out at least five times a week, and I have to make sure I see my therapist to help me navigate my PTSD and anxiety. But, taking moments in the day to have quiet breathing time, and also focusing on all of the positive and happy times we have carries me through it. You also truly do learn to adapt to this lifestyle. What seems so incredibly daunting at first really does become your new normal.’
Curious about how Drew’s younger brother, Reid, is adapting to their new normal, we asked if he fully grasped the situation of his brother’s health.
‘Reid is doing incredibly well, but he has absolutely been impacted directly. He always says, “Watch my port!” when someone bumps into him. But, he doesn’t have a port. Only Drew does. He is terrified of the doctor. Every single time he has a fever, we have to swab him for strep and flu. This has made him deathly afraid when he gets sick. He says over and over “I’m all better, Mommy.” Does he fully grasp the “WHY”…No. But he has terrible separation anxiety when Drew is admitted to the hospital. But, when we are all home together and when things are going smoothly, Reid is a thriving four-year-old little brother who loves nothing more than to wrestle and play with his big brother.’
Megan credits the organization, POST – Pediatric Oncology Support Team, with helping her navigate life as a mother of a child with cancer.
‘Honestly, we truly could NOT do this without POST. We have focused our fundraising efforts this year for them. They provide all kinds of incredible services at no cost to local families who are navigating pediatric cancer. A few examples: mental health counseling, food pantry, financial assistance, family-focused events (manatee lagoon, painting and pizza parties, Christmas party with Santa and so many more), gifts for children and siblings at birthdays/Christmas. They are basically there to provide any form of support that the family may need. I truly mean it when I say, we couldn’t do this journey without them. We are beyond blessed to have this organization in our community.’
If you’d like to learn more about the organization or make a donation, you can visit the POST website here.
This is a follow up.
- Read the original article about Drew Fogg’s diagnosis and the importance of Childhood Cancer Awareness here.