Meghan’s Story – in her own words
October 17, 1980 – July 20, 2003 – Willmar, MN
“Cancer has affected every aspect of my life. When I first began my treatment it was very hard to hear my friend’s talking about going out and doing things I wished I could be doing. As my treatment went on I realized that doing those things was not what life was about. There was so much more to life than just these simple things. Life started to be having a good day when I didn’t feel sick, or when I wasn’t in the hospital. I started appreciate every single day. When you have cancer you start to see there is so much more to life. You also start to realize what a blessing life is.
I think before I had cancer I had no idea what my values really were. After going through this battle I’ve realized that my main value is to appreciate every single day you are alive. You learn not to worry about the little things. You also learn to appreciate the small things. Once you go through something like this you really learn the importance of family and true friends. It seems so cliché to say that but until you experience something like this you really don’t even know what life is all about.
Throughout my experience many people in our community came forward to help my family out. People would bring us food, clean our house, and do anything they could to help. I think having a strong community is something that helps people a lot. After going through this, l realized the importance of being part of a community. By becoming a part of a good community you will find many people that will be there for you even in your darkest hour.
When l was first diagnosed I was in the middle of my sophomore year of college. At first I did not know if I would be able to continue with school. Luckily my college offers courses that do not require you to be on campus. My education is something that kept me going while I was receiving treatment. There were many times I wanted to quit, but I kept pushing forward. Doing my schoolwork would distract me from my illness. Reading my books and doing my homework took me to another world. If I had not been able to continue my education while receiving my treatment, I would have fallen nearly two years behind. My education gave me hope for the future. By going forth with college I knew there would be a point in my life that did not revolve around my illness.
Before I had cancer l thought I might have a degree in business, but I really had no idea what to do with it. Since I continued my education while I was going through treatment, my career goals began to change. I realized that I wanted to do something that could help people. At first I thought I wanted to go to school to earn a degree in psychology I would be able to help a variety of people. And then it came to me. I could be a psychologist on the children’s cancer unit where l received my treatment. At the hospital where I received my treatment, they had psychologist’s that would talk with people every few days. In talking to them, I would often become frustrated because I felt they really didn’t understand what l was going through. Yes they had seen many people go through similar things but they never actually experienced it themselves. I feel that if I were to go into this career I would be able to help many people. I would know exactly what they were going through and the way they were feeling.
By going through cancer, I really came to know the meaning of life. I realized that we are all here to serve a purpose. If I had not gone through this I never really would have known what my purpose was. I now know that I wanted to help people in my life. Even just by doing something simple, you can make a huge difference in a person’s life.
Throughout my experience with cancer I got to know many people who changed my life forever.”
Meghan lived in Willmar her entire life graduating from high school with honors in 1999, and spent those years enjoying choir, Spanish, golf and working at Target. Despite her illness, Meghan graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. Cloud State University this spring and was a nanny. Meghan enjoyed concerts, music, biking and traveling. She was the inspiration of many and touched the hearts of all who knew her and witnessed her bravery. Meghan’s kindness and compassion was reflected through her involvement with the American Cancer Society Willmar Chapter, as she helped organize Daffodil Days and Relay For Life, as well as her passion for cancer research funding. Her last days were spent enjoying the company of her family and friends within the community who loved her and will remember her well.
Submitted by her mother Jo Debruycker.
Meghan’s mother, Jo DeBruycker, established the RIS Meghan Marie DeBruycker Fund in December of 2014 to honor the life of Meghan. To contribute, please select “Meghan Marie DeBruycker Fund” from the drop-down menu on our secure donation page.