Meghan Parlee

Meghan Parlee

Edmonton AB

Even though it was nearly 16 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. The fear, the anxiety, and the inevitable unknown. All of the things that hit you so hard and so sudden when the words “you have cancer” are being uttered.
Meghan Parlee

When they say your life changes in a flash, it is a cliche but also the biggest understatement. In that moment, everything went blur, everything went quiet, and I went into total shock.

It was July of 2008, and I was 23 years old. I had just finished graduating from college and was about to start University. Everything that I had worked so hard for was finally falling into place. That was until I got sick. I thought nothing of it at first, I brushed it off as the common cold that just wouldn’t go away. But then I got worse, the cough was debilitating and persistent. I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea how truly sick I was. It wasn’t until I woke up one morning with a lump on my neck that I knew that this wasn’t an average cold; however, I just assumed that maybe I had an infection and still shrugged it off as nothing. The next day when I woke up and it was double in size, so that morning I went to the walk-in clinic.  When the doctor saw the lump, I could see the concern on his face. He immediately sent me for a chest X-ray and told me to come straight back to bring him the results, which I did. After he reviewed the results, he sat next to me and said “I am so sorry but I suspect you have lymphoma cancer, and you need to go to the hospital right now”. My whole life just stopped in that moment, I was in absolute disbelief. It hadn’t even been a week since my 23rd birthday and now I am suddenly faced with the biggest fight for my life. Cancer was a term that was so far away from me. I associated it to be for someone else, or an older self, but never for myself.

Once I was in the hospital, it soon became very clear, that me being there was nothing short of a miracle. I spent nearly a month in hospital, because I had a lot of fluid around my heart, a collapsed lung, and was just diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. I had to start chemo right away and continued with it for the next 9 months.

When I reflect back, there are so many moments from that time that will forever stick with me. The one that had the biggest impact is when I was laying in that hospital bed looking out the window at the world that hadn’t stopped, even though my world just had. Everyone had gone home for the night to continue on with their lives, and suddenly everything just hit me all at once. All the thoughts and fears started to rush through me. Before this moment, I was in pilot mode and hadn’t processed what was happening to me. The tears started to flow and I couldn’t stop. I found myself praying so hard, like I have never prayed before. My whole life, I knew I wanted nothing more than to be a mother and to have a family of my own. I wanted nothing more than to live the life I had always dreamed of since I was a little girl. I wanted nothing more than to just live. I knew I had to push forward in ways that I never imagined possible.

Today, I have been in remission for 15 years. Since that time, I met the love of my life and now have two beautiful girls that give my life so much purpose and beauty. A couple years ago I decided to “retire” from my corporate job, and start my dream job as a stay at home mom. When I think back to that time in the hospital, I knew I wanted to be a mother, but what I wanted more was “time”. More time to spend with the people I love most. Time is so precious and something that unfortunately so many do not get, and something I never wanted to take for granted again.

I am so grateful for not only my team of medical professionals that were there to ultimately help save my life, but also LLS. They were there to guide me, support me, and give me hope so I can proudly and humbly call myself a survivor.