Meg Berté Owen was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was only 23 years old. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center she was treated with an aggressive treatment regimen that included an experimental stem cell transplant, radiation, and chemotherapy. The two-year treatment program was ultimately successful but had many long-term side effects: eventually Meg was left with a lung capacity of only 35 percent, which was especially devastating to a young woman who was an all-American athlete.
Despite her severely reduced breathing capacity, Meg survived and thrived for twelve years. She bicycled over 3,000 miles cross-country as a teammate of Lance Armstrong in the 2005 Tour of Hope. She was an advocate and inspiration for other cancer survivors, working tirelessly to spread awareness and counsel individual patients. She attended Harvard Business School and built an extremely successful career. In 2008, Meg married the love of her life and chose to hold the wedding in the church across the street from Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the site of her greatest struggles and triumphs.
Meg’s incredible accomplishments as a cancer survivor might lead one to believe that remission was the end of her fight with cancer. But the long-term side effects of treatment meant that Meg had to wage many other battles. At times she could hardly walk up a flight of stairs. Her lungs collapsed multiple times. And she always knew that she was at high risk for another diagnosis of cancer.
On October 15, 2009, Meg’s lungs could no longer continue the fight. While her lymphoma had remained in remission for twelve years, the side effects of her treatment caused her finally to succumb to a lung infection. This would not have been fatal to such a young woman if her lungs had not already been compromised. Meg’s story illustrates, entering remission is not the end of the struggle.
For information about how to deal with the physical aftereffects of cancer treatment, go to our website or call us at 1-855-220-7777. Everyone deserves the right to live pain free and to their fullest potential. We wish peace and strength to Meg’s loving family.