Riley Nurse Determined To Rise Above Her Cancer
Megan Mendez was just 21 years old when she found a lump while conducting a self-breast exam. Noticing a change in her body, she immediately saw her doctor and underwent several tests. Megan’s fear was confirmed, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Megan put her nursing education on hold to go through treatment and several surgeries. One year later, she was back in school pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse.
“My cancer and the experience I had only strengthened my desire to become a nurse. I wasn’t sure at first, but after this I knew. I knew this was what I was meant to do,” said Megan.
In May of 2013, Megan was declared cancer free, graduated with her associate’s degree in nursing and began working as a home help aid. Things were looking up for Megan and her husband, who had just bought a house and were focused on raising their young daughter. The good times came to a screeching halt when Megan’s scar tissue did not look normal. She also found two small lumps in her breast. The cancer was back, and it was spreading.
Megan came to the IU Health Simon Cancer Center to receive treatment for her second round of breast cancer. Working with her care team, they were able to alleviate the crippling side effects of the chemo and put Megan on a treatment plan that worked for her. She says she came to IU Health because it is an academic health center, doing cutting edge of research and offering clinical trial options that no one else can.
Today, Megan is determined to beat cancer. Between regular chemo sessions Megan spends time with her six year old daughter, studies for her bachelor’s degree in nursing, and works at her dream job as a nurse at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. When asked why she continues working, Megan has several answers.
“I do it for my daughter- I want her to have a good life and learn to be strong. I do it for my patients- Having been a patient I can relate to them and help them feel at ease. I can’t image not being a nurse. This is my dream job and I know it’s where I am meant to be.”
Dr. Kathy Miller, medical oncologist with IU Health, says while it is not necessary to do self-exams every month, it is important to be familiar with your body and be aware of changes. “Mammograms are our best single screening tool, but they’re not perfect. About 10% women diagnosed come in with a lump that they noticed less than a year after a mammogram that was normal. The number one rule is if you feel a lump or an abnormality, get it checked out. An unidentified lump should always be evaluated, even if a mammogram is normal.”
Working mom determined to beat cancer (WRTV)
Megan has fought to get where she is. At 21, while in nursing school, she felt a lump in her breast. Doctors confirmed her unsuspecting fear.
Facebook Live Q&A with Dr. Kathy Miller (WRTV)
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women. Dr. Kathy Miller joined RTV6's Emily Pace to answer your questions about breast cancer and women's health.