Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Fighting (cancer) like a girl

  • As a healthy and very active high school student and athlete, the last thing Megan Buysse ever imagined was getting cancer....
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  • As a healthy and very active high school student and athlete, the last thing Megan Buysse ever imagined was getting cancer. “My initial reaction was that this can not be happening to me. My entire life I have been healthy and active in sports and other activities. The thought of getting cancer at such a young age was scary and I had no idea if I would survive or not,” said Buysse. “Throughout chemo-therapy I came to empower the idea that everything in life happens for a reason. “I have always been a determined and competitive person, and there was no way I was going to let the idea that I had cancer take over my life. “The song “Fight Like a Girl” by Martina McBride truly defines the thoughts and fears of what I faced and made me realize how big of a support system I had beside me.” Buysse said it was in high school when she started noticing something was wrong. She was experiencing pain in her lower right ribs, and over a span of two years she had multiple tests conducted. It wasn’t until a CT scan was done. That was when they discovered a ewing sarcoma the size of a grapefruit growing around her eighth and ninth ribs. Buysse explained this is a rare form of cancer that only impacts approximately 450 people each year in the United States with 80 percent occurring in men. “I received 14 rounds of chemotherapy. 6 rounds before surgery and 8 rounds after. The chemo alternated between a 2 day and 5 day treatment which was performed every 2 weeks as long as my red and white blood cell counts increased to a safe amount to start another round,” said Buysse. “Throughout treatments I experienced everything from mouth sores covering my entire mouth and throat, internal infections, blood transfusions, dehydration, and life threatening low cell counts. The experience is forever engraved in my memory and it’s hard to believe that it has already been two years since I finished. “Most of the time when I got home from a round of chemotherapy I had one day to enjoy before my counts would start to drop and one day before I started the next round of chemo. Being a college athlete I would work out that one day to try and keep in shape although my energy levels were way down. “I spent a ton of time on pinterest getting design ideas and would see my friends every day that I could which was only once or twice every two weeks. Besides that I was extremely limited to what I could do as I had no energy most days.” Buysse said what helped get her through the challenges of her treatments was the support she received from others. “The support system I had while going through chemotherapy was beyond what I expected,” she said. “Everywhere I looked there was someone asking how I was doing and always asking if I needed anything. There was never a time I felt alone and being able to interact with other cancer patients was truly inspiring. Buysse said she finished her treatments July 9, 2012, and since that time she has been in remission. One of the things that helped Buysse as she endured her chemotherapy was getting back to playing the sport she loved. “It was important for me to get back to playing tennis, because I love having the support group of friends who are out there playing a sport for the fun of the game,” said Buysse. “It has also been a stress relief – a way to get my mind off of everything I had going on and I wanted to let other young athletes know that cancer can not define who you are or limit you. Although it took a full year to get back to where I was, I have become a better player and person because of it.” Buysse has also focused on fashion, which is her passion. She is pursuing it as a career at St. Catherine’s University. “While I was going through chemo I had a goal of donating a red dress for the “Little Red Dress” event which is held annually at St. Kates every February,” she said. “I spent hours hand sewing 270 rosettes and individually sewing them onto the skirt of the dress I was making. “Knowing I was making a dress that would benefit someone else and raise money for the heart association kept me inspired.” As a cancer survivor, Buysse has also been involved in Relay For Life and has seen the benefits of it. “Ever since I was diagnosed with cancer I have been involved in Relay For Life in some way,” she said. “My friends have supported me at their Universities and I was fortunate enough to attend a couple of those events with them. Buysse also attended the Relay For Life event held in Eden Prairie July 11, to support family members and friends who have passed from cancer and for those who won their battles. “Personally I have learned so much about myself through the process, and I now have a better understanding of who I am,” said Buysse. “I realized that life can be changed in an instant and I need to chase after my dreams and never let someone tell me that I can't. “Going into the fashion world there is going to be a ton of opinions about my work and not everyone is going to like what I design but as long as I am happy is the only thing that matters.”
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