In August, 2011, Megan Macaluso was a typical 17-year old, anxiously awaiting the start of her senior year at St. Mary High School. “Meg” comes from a typical family, just like most. She has three older brothers and a twin sister. One day, shortly after starting pre-season cheer practice, Meg found a lump in her calf. It didn’t feel like the kind of lump that her mom had ever felt, and she felt plenty having raised five athletes. That lump turned into every parent’s worst nightmare. Stage four, Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. The prognosis wasn’t good, but a clinical trial was offered that offered a little more hope than older treatments.
During the first week of her senior year, instead of happily driving off to school with her twin Melissa, Meg was getting her first dose of a 14-month protocol of very toxic, aggressive chemotherapy.
Meg handled more disappointments during that 14 months than any kid should have to. However, she handled each with strength and dignity. She never allowed cancer to define her. Throughout the treatment Meg and her family were able to deal with all the disappointment as well as all the side effects because the Rhabdo was responding, and with each scan there was less and less throughout her body.
In November, 2012, just 2 days after her 19th birthday, the Macalusos got the news they had been praying for; Meg was cancer free. The treatment had worked. There were many celebrations with family and with Meg’s friends who had been by her side from day one. Meg and her family enjoyed the holidays, and Meg began to enjoy a normal social life. She was becoming very, very excited about finally becoming a normal college kid at The University of Scranton when just one week before she was scheduled to leave, she found a lump in her upper thigh. A PET scan was done immediately, and the Macalusos got what turned out to be the worst news a family could get. The Rhabdo not only was back, but it was in almost every bone in her body, her lymph nodes and bone marrow. Because it came back so quickly and so aggressively, all the doctors could offer were some treatments that would give Meg time.
Needless to say, everyone whose life was touched by Meg was devastated, but in true form Meg decided to begin chemo and go to school. The chemo didn’t work and in late February Meg had to be taken home in excruciating pain throughout her body. Factors in her blood indicated that the cancer had spread, and the tumors in all her bones had grown causing severe pain. Again, Meg wasn't giving up and tried a different protocol. It allowed her to remain at school, coming home once a week for an injection aw well as taking oral chemo daily. Meg had to leave school at the end of March due to severe fatigue and low counts. The chemo has now stopped working, and a recent PET scan has shown that the disease is widespread throughout Meg's body. Instead of the 6-9 months that the Macalusos were looking forward to, the doctors now feel that it will be more like 6-12 weeks, and within 3-6 weeks Meg will be very, sick, likely on hospice care.
When Meg was first diagnosed, many family members and friends from both the Bloomfield and St. Mary communities came together and had fundraisers that helped the family manage medical bills, costs associated with Meg’s illness, and the cost of commuting into NYC almost every day, all without Maryanne’s salary as she had to leave work to care for Meg. Now, after 19 months those funds have been exhausted, and the Macs need to humbly turn to their friends and communities for help.
Please consider helping out this family who, prior to Meg’s illness had given so much to two communities and people in them who were going through a bad time, and even during her illness got involved in fund raising efforts for a group called Cycle for Survival that raises money for rare cancer research. Please help this family who is no different from yours whose lives were turned upside down, literally, overnight.