Meaghan (17) is the youngest of Mark and Maura Kilner’s three children. Meaghan has two older brothers: Christopher (25) and Brian (20). Meaghan grew up loving reading, swimming, singing and dancing. In fact in 2012, Meaghan was a JUST TRYAN IT triathlete!
Diagnosis and Treatment
In January of 2017 Meaghan was a freshman at Stone Ridge and swimming for the Gators when she noticed a lump when she turned her neck. After a couple of doctor’s visits, an x-ray, some scans and tests, Meaghan was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Stage 2- Bulky (13 cm tumor in her chest) and soon after started treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Meaghan received 4 three-week cycles of chemotherapy followed by 14 sessions of radiation and appeared to be in remission after 6 months. However, just three months later, her scans revealed that her cancer had returned. As the first person entered into a pediatric trial to address her relapsed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she received immunotherapy and highly targeted chemotherapy for four months preparing her for a bone marrow transplant to hopefully put the cancer behind her forever. Meaghan was in the hospital for a month post transplant and then stayed in an apartment near the hospital for four more months for on-going treatment. Of course, her family moved with her and was always by her side. Once back home in Potomac, and as an additional safety measure against a relapse, Meaghan continued chemotherapy once every three weeks for an additional 8 months. Over the two years, Meaghan and her family made over 145 day trips to Johns Hopkins for her check-ups, treatments, scans and surgeries.
Fighting cancer has became an almost full-time job for Meaghan and her parents. Meaghan home schooled herself for the Spring semesters of both her Freshman and Sophomore years, as the demands of her treatment, and her immune suppressed state during her treatments, meant she needed to stay out of public places and left her often feeling sick and fatigued. Meaghan did all that she could to follow her doctors instructions 100% and to remain as active as possible, walking and doing physical therapy every day.
Meaghan’s Support Group
Meaghan’s mom, Maura was her primary care-taker and constant companion throughout all of her treatments. Her dad was there with her every day- no matter where she had to be and what she needed to do. Meaghan is extremely close to her brothers so they happily spent time with her when they were home from college and graduate school and would accompany Meaghan on her regular hospital visits. They face-timed her every day when they were away to catch up and to help her with any school work, if she needed it. Meaghan’s school, Stone Ridge, has been incredibly supportive and flexible and really accompanied Meaghan throughout this two year journey. Meaghan’s friends were also wonderfully supportive, face timing her into classes or from home in the evening and visiting her when her immune system permitted. They missed her and she missed them very much. Finally, many friends have stepped up to help us in different ways as well as the “cancer community”. JUST TRYAN IT and other organizations dedicated to the care of cancer patients and survivors and their families helped us in many practical ways and made sure that we never felt alone in this difficult battle.
Looking to the Future
Fighting cancers absolutely provides a new perspective in life. What seems important, and not so important, changes and becomes clearer. Family, friends, faith, health, hopes and dreams become the solid core of life and decision-making. Cancer has made Meaghan even stronger, more mature and more grateful for what she has. It has done the same for our entire family and others who have chosen to share in our journey.
Meaghan is full of hopes and dreams for her future. She wants to make the most of her remaining time with her friends in high school and she is enjoying the process of exploring where she wants to go to college. Meaghan looks forward to pursuing her passions for reading, writing, theatre, and science. She wants to earn a PhD and pursue and career in Chemistry but, she is open to life and career going in a different direction. Meaghan is also very passionate about continuing to work for cures for cancers and for more support of, and care for, patients and survivors. She is an advocate and spokesperson for many cancer cure/care organizations and looks forward to doing so for many years.