BC Students Finds Lots to be Thankful for This Holiday Season

Megan Woody

What are you thankful for this holiday season? Meghan Woody of Boston College is thankful for donated stem cells . . .hair . . . life.

In the summer of 2010, following her freshman year, the Overland Park, Kansas, native was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive form of the cancer that requires immediate treatment. She underwent  chemotherapy and missed the fall term, but was found to be in remission and is back at BC this year.

On Feb. 18, she took take part in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Boston College, as a survivor participant.

"Relay For Life is important on so many levels," she told a reporter for The Boston College Chronicle.  "Considering that an astounding number of people will get cancer at some point in their lives, it is so great that the Relay brings awareness to such a large group of people.

"On a more sentimental level, though, it is a really meaningful way to celebrate those who won their fights against cancer while remembering all those who did not, all the while raising money for the cause," she says.

Not long after receiving her leukemia diagnosis, Meghan started a blog, "Days That Feel", to record her experiences and emotions during her struggle against the disease. Her entries are candid, thoughtful, and expressive, as she deals with fear, hope, frustration, and myriad other feelings brought about by this sudden, dramatic change in her life.

"Chemo starts tomorrow,” she writes in the first entry. "I make jokes, I worry about getting my contacts, but should I be concerned with death? It's not mentioned, but part of me wonders if it's just one of those things that isn't mentioned until it's likely. When I start having visitors, should I be saying hello or saying good-bye? I don't want someone to try to scare me, I just want to know what chance there is that this thing could actually kill me.

Meghan described the blog as “a funny thing. It started as something to give a bit of routine to my days and to keep me from going insane during my long hospital stay. It really picked up followers, though, and people I hadn't heard from in ages were texting me or Facebooking me just to say, ‘I love your blog! I read it every day!’

“That always surprised me, because in my head, it seemed like maybe five of my close friends were reading it, when in reality about 120 people were reading it each day. A lot of friends and family of friends, but also a lot of strangers, some of whom were from Australia, England, just the most random places.”

Here's the Thanksgiving blog post:

I am Thankful For...
I am thankful for stem cells that came frozen in little clear bags. I am thankful for warmed stem cells in 4 large syringes. Stem cells fed into me, hopefully giving me new life. I'm thankful they took awhile to get settled. I'm thankful they flared up just a little, showing me that they're fighting any lingering darkness in my body.

I am thankful for the donor of those stem cells. I am thankful that a healthy, busy, 30 year old took the time out of her life to save someone unknown. I am thankful to the people that make her life easier. And I am thankful for the experiences and people who shaped her into the kind of person that did something so selfless for me, a stranger.

I am thankful for the medicine and the system, the doctors and the nurses. I am thankful for the home I have made with KU and the comfort and trust I feel in the people there. I'm thankful they don't hold my inflexibilities against me. I am thankful that I am a person, and not just a patient. I am thankful for the many nurses that have become friends, and I am thankful they have let me in their lives as well.

I am thankful for Eric's continued remission. And Marcus's and David's and Sally's and Steven's.

I am thankful Day 100 is coming up. I am thankful my hair is coming back. I am thankful for all the promises of Chestnut Hill. I am thankful for the friends there, and I am thankful for the friends here. The Laurens and Frannies and 409s, the Katys and Flynns and Joergers and Jons and Marias. I am thankful for the Heydas--all of them (including extended family: Laura and the Ultimate Grande Dame-Nelly), who have done more for me than I could possibly ever reciprocate.

I am thankful for family and friends that have stuck around. I'm thankful for the people who have gotten me through so much. I am thankful for the future and all it holds. I am thankful for apartments and books and classes and plans.

I am thankful that I still recognize myself after all this.
I am thankful for the health of my family and friends.
I am thankful for the people who make their lives easier.
I am thankful to have my life laid out in front of me.
I am thankful to have been lucky where others have not been.