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The Megan Howe Family

My name is Megan Howe and I became a Four Diamonds Child in 1999.

July of 1999 I was about to turn two years old. Up to that point, I was a perfectly healthy child. I was walking all around and even pointing to the outfits I would wear that day. I learned to dress myself and was a loved member of the daycare on the Navy Base. About a week before my second birthday, I became sick. I was running a fever of 106 degrees and was not acting like myself, so my parents took me to the doctor. They ran blood tests. They saw blast cells, so they told my family to take me to Penn State Hershey Medical Center. There more tests were run and eventually, Dr. Freiberg told my family the news. “Your daughter has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.” Three days before my second birthday I was checked into the Penn State Hershey Medical Center to begin treatment. The next two and a half years of my life would revolve around hospital visits, oncology clinic visits, outpatient procedures, endless blood count tests, hospital stays, and spinal taps. I was too young to understand or remember most of what was happening, but I do have some memories from back then. For the most part what I remember are the super nurses and doctors that would come to check up on me and playing in the toy room at the hospital, but I also remember asking when I would get to go home. My parents still remember everything though. They tell me stories from time to time and one day they pulled out all the binders they used for making sure I got all of my medicines on time. My dad told me how the first day I was in the hospital he carried me up and down hallways while I was holding the Winnie the Pooh Bear he brought in for me. That bear still sits in his closet at home. My parents told me how my daycare teacher broke down in tears before my dad could even fully tell her that I would not be in daycare anymore because I was in the hospital. My mom told me how she hated the thought of leaving me alone in the hospital, so she would sleep on the little padded window bench next to my bed (during one of the stays she was a full eight months pregnant). In time, the madness came to an end and a few months after I turned four my two years and three months of chemotherapy were over.

I am now 21 years old, 19 years cancer free, and 17 years off treatment. People know me as a young financial analyst, a multiple sport college athlete, or maybe someone’s friend. If you spend enough time around me, you eventually learn that I am a cancer survivor. It’s part of what makes me unique.

For me having cancer meant I was a Four Diamonds child. It meant my family would not have the burden of trying to pay medical bills while they were taking care of me. It meant that I would have a THON family for the rest of my life. It meant THON, dancers, the organization that adopted me, hosting canning weekends, fall carnival, THON clothing, and all the other THON events we could fit into our schedule. My first THON was THON of 2002 “…with all your heart” and I still go to THON every year. Many of my friends go to Penn State and are involved in THON and I am so proud of every one of them. Seeing my friends on committees and as dancers makes my heart melt. What the students do up at Penn State means the world to me and so many other families. They will never know the full impact they have on so many people and families. Keep dancing Penn State!

With all my heart… Megan Howe