College Cheer

Meg’s Story

Type 1 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, Chronic Pancreatitis, Cancer. 

These diseases are all life-changing…and life-threatening.  Imagine a 22 year-old who had already had all of them.

What gets a person through something like this?  Hardship creates an opportunity for kindness.  And that’s exactly what helped Meg in the darkest times of her life.

On my Planet Kind page, I collect kindness stories.  My friend, Alan, had a great idea to do a story on his kids.  His daughter, Meg, was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a type of blood cancer.  Her brother, Ted, donated the bone marrow that saved her life.  That’s one hell of an act of kindness. 

Yes, Ted is holding his donation in this picture.

But there’s a lot more to Meg’s story, and there have been so many acts of kindness along the way, it doesn’t seem fair to talk about just one. 

Meg has suffered with health issues her entire life.  I remember when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) when she was only 16 months old.   Of course, her parents were shell-shocked.  They knew that this would change not only Meg’s life forever, but their family’s too.  Gone were the carefree days and the spontaneity they had always enjoyed.  

But even in this time of despair, they were grateful. 

In the children’s hospital where Meg was being cared for, the diabetes ward was on the same floor as the cancer ward.  One day, as Kathy, Meg’s mom, was leaving the hospital, she started talking to a man who was waiting at the elevator with her.  They both had daughters in the hospital.  Kathy’s had diabetes.  His daughter had a form of cancer with no cure.

This changed Kathy’s perspective in an instant.  She now had a feeling of gratitude that Meg was diagnosed with T1D – a disease they could manage and live with. It took planning and creativity, but they found ways to make life as “normal” as possible. 

On Halloween, for instance, Kathy and Alan would buy back most of the kids’ sweets.  “That became the kids’ goal on Halloween – to see how much money they could make off their haul of candy,” Kathy recalled.

They learned to live with the diabetes and work with the limitations it created.  They dedicated time and resources supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), which works towards improvements in therapies and ultimately for a cure for T1D.  But diabetes wasn’t the only struggle Meg would face.

Later, during her high school years, Meg developed Crohn’s Disease.  And then, in college, she began her struggles with frequent bouts of Pancreatitis.   Finally, during what they thought was another bad episode of Pancreatitis, they received alarming results from blood tests, indicating cancer. 

A terrifying emergency ensued – Meg’s kidneys shut down, and the doctors were left with no time and few choices.  They were even forced to do a bone marrow biopsy without general anesthesia. “I can still feel it to this day,” Meg recalls.  “My dad almost passed out.”

Meg was diagnosed with MDS, and the battle for her life began all over again.

Hardship creates an opportunity for kindness.

Meg feels so grateful that she has always had the support of her family and friends.  It has been a lifetime of kind acts from them, from big to small: her brother’s willingness to be her bone marrow donor and her parents’ years spent trying to ensure the best care possible to game nights in the hospital.

“One time my dad, brother and I were playing Uno in the hospital and things got so intense that the nurses thought I had a medical emergency,” Meg laughed.

As a parent, I am especially in awe of the strength that Meg’s parents have shown – always making that extra effort to make her more comfortable in times of pain or put in those long hours to fight for better treatment.  They always searched for ways to do more – for ways to improve Meg’s life, their own needs always second, or third or even further down the line.

The other acts of kindness that really stuck with Meg were the unexpected ones, the small gestures from people who didn’t even know her that well. 

A note left from an acquaintance who lived down the hall came at just the right time.   And connecting with friends on social media when she was in isolation made her feel much less lonely.

I asked Meg, “Who really ‘got it right’?  Who knew just what to say to you bring a sense of normalcy to your life?” She immediately responded, “The nurses – they never talked down to me or babied me.  They just talked about normal stuff like there was nothing wrong with me.  I really appreciated the people who didn’t talk to me about being sick.”

As you can see by all these examples, it’s not only the people closest to us that can make an impact on our lives.  We can reach people everywhere and anytime in our daily lives – at work, at school, at church, at the gym, on the street. 

We need to take the time to notice those experiencing hardship.  And there’s a lot of people to be noticed.

I’m extremely happy to report that Meg is doing very well.  The bone marrow transplant was successful, and a side effect of having new bone marrow was that it cured her Crohn’s Disease!  Silver linings. 

Speaking with Meg, you would never know that she’s been through so much.  She’s bubbly, constantly smiling and her biggest worry now is what she’s going to do when she graduates.  She’s not jaded or fearful and has a positive outlook.

“You just can’t get mad at this situation.  You can’t control it.  It’s made me grow as a person.  It changed my perspective for the better.” 

Wise words.

Hardship creates an opportunity for kindness.
Patricia Makatsaria


  • Janine Krieter says:

    Beautiful Story and Amazing resilient Meg and Family. Love to you all and Cheers to a Bright Future!

  • Abby Jirak says:

    What a journey all of you have been through. You’re one hellova awesome fam. Positivity all around. Love this. ❤️

  • Belinda says:

    That is an amazing and humbling story. I think the part I’ll take away , apart from Meg’s amazing bravery and positivity, is the comment about the way the nurses treated her – talking to her about normal stuff.
    Thank you for sharing

    • Patricia Makatsaria says:

      I’m glad you could take away something from this. I often find it difficult and awkward to speak to people in these kinds of situations. Nice to know it’s best just to focus on the regular.

  • Kathee says:

    Thanks for sharing Meg’s story. We have known Meg and her family for 18 years. So glad Meg is doing well.

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