By: Megan Cavanaugh
Guest Post By, Menopause The Musical Cast Member and Breast Cancer Survivor Megan Cavanaugh
I’ve performed in Menopause The Musical for the last eleven years, and I’ve loved it. The current tour is special, and very near and dear to my heart; it’s the Survivor Tour, in partnership with Susan G. Komen – and I’m a survivor.
My life changed while I was on tour with Menopause The Musical in Springfield, Illinois. I got a phone call telling me that the result of my biopsy (from a routine mammogram) was “invasive carcinoma.” I left the tour and met with my surgeon, and she explained that given the size of the tumor, I was probably stage I ILC (Invasive Lobular Carcinoma). After an MRI, five more tumors were found. I had a partial mastectomy and four lymph nodes removed, three of the four lymph nodes tested positive for cancer so I had seven more lymph nodes removed – which, thankfully, all came back negative. But those blasted three positive nodes meant I was going to have to endure chemotherapy. I was now stage II ILC.
I had four chemotherapy sessions every three weeks, and lost all my hair, then thirty radiation treatments. The day after my last radiation treatment, I was on a flight to the east coast to attend my nephew’s wedding and join a new Menopause The Musical tour. I was bald and worried that I wouldn’t have the energy, but with the support of my spouse and the cast and crew I did it – followed by 48 more shows!
I now am dealing with lymphodemia of the left breast. I also have to take Femara for five years. This drug inhibits the estrogen production in my body, as my cancer feeds on estrogen, but it also majorly increases hot flashes and night sweats. While traveling on tour I single handedly steam up the van windows near me and I have totally become my Earth Mother character “Dripping and Dropping” (one of the parodies in Menopause The Musical to the classic Dusty Springfield song, “Wishing and Hoping”)!
When I came back to tour I was bald and wearing a wig for the show. I was so uncomfortable and the producers said, "Don't wear it." So I went on stage with peach fuzz hair and I had women coming up to me at the end of the show telling me they were cancer survivors.
Every person I know has been affected by cancer in some way, and I'm humbled and empowered to share my story of hope and strength if it can help one person. Breast cancer affects our bodies and can make us feel "less than" or not pretty – but LIVING beyond it is incredible and so empowering. You are beautiful with all your scars, and bald heads, and cancer does NOT define you, but it does change you. It has changed me – to be grateful for today. My sister Mary Cay, died from brain cancer and every day I miss her, however I am grateful for today. My living through this has made me so much more alive living each day and loving my life. I'm so excited to share a tour of laughter and hope with you all, one show at a time.
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