Megan's Smile Always Story
On March 3rd Megan Andrews found out that she had Leptomeningeal Metastases, a form of terminal brain cancer and would only have a life expectancy of 2-12 months .
This type of cancer is 100% fatal and the treatment options Megan will go through in the coming months will only give her a better quality of life and possibly months to live.
It is impossible to imagine what Joe, her husband, and their two children, Jude (11) and Josiah (10) are going through, and will have to go through in the next year. They are such an amazing family and over the past 4 years have opened their home to many exchange students without asking for anything in return.
Many of you may already know, but Megan was previously diagnosed in February of 2019 with breast cancer and in March 2019 underwent a double mastectomy. That was followed up with very strong chemo treatments that left her hospitalized for 5 days in June with low blood counts. She had to have 2 blood transfusions and 1 platelet transfusion. She then had 7 consecutive weeks of daily radiation treatments that left her skin completely raw and blistered under her right arm.
Through all of this Megan always kept a positive attitude and chose to see the good that was happening in her life and in the lives and relationships around her as a result of her pain and discomfort. On many occasions Megan would talk about how blessed she was and would tell people that getting breast cancer was the best thing that has ever happened to her. She chose to spend her time laughing and enjoying every moment with her close friends and family members. On several occasions she would tell her husband about another friend or family member that was going through a difficult situation and they would offer to help someone else out. For her it was all about attitude. She chose to love whole heartedly and made sure to appreciate even the smallest of victories in her battle with cancer.
In October Megan finally had her last radiation treatment and with friends and family by her side she finally got to ring the bell and celebrate the victory she had fought for for so many months. She knew she was not in this fight alone and she asked her husband Joe and her 2 young boys Jude and Josiah to ring the bell with her because it was not just her victory it was theirs.
Just days after ringing the bell the Andrews family got word from the doctor that her full body scans were all clear and that she was completely cancer free. This was a great time of celebration and relief and while she still had some more infusions to do that would help prevent the return of cancer they all felt so excited for the days to come.
As the months went on and she did her infusion every 3 weeks things began to get easier and easier. Her hair was growing back, her immune system was getting stronger, she had more energy and she was finally starting to feel like herself again for the first time in a year. She was finally able to travel and go visit family in California for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In January, the family took a trip to Monument Valley, UT to enjoy God’s amazing creation. They even re booked the trip that had to be canceled the previous summer to Europe to see all of their beautiful exchange students who have become a true members of their immediate family.
Unfortunately, in late January she began experiencing some slight dizziness, spells of confusion and chronic fatigue. After visiting the doctor and having a CT scan that revealed some abnormalities in her brain. She was told she needed to get a spinal tap to rule things out. This process was very painful but necessary. The spinal tap came back inconclusive and the doctor told her that they had the option to either do 5 more spinal taps or she would need to get the spacers in her breasts removed so that they could do an MRI (which would be more conclusive). Knowing that she was going to eventually need to remove the spacers to complete her breast reconstruction, and given how painful the spinal taps were, Megan chose to meet with her reconstruction specialist and do what needed to be done to have them removed so that she could have an MRI.
On February 28th at 11am Megan met with her plastic surgeon. They came up with a plan to remove the spacers and put the implants in their place so that she no longer had metal in her chest that would prevent her from getting the MRI. The doctor did not want to waste any time and he postponed his vacation that he was going on the next day and scheduled Megan for an emergency surgery at 7am on February 29th. Surgery went well and Megan went home the same day.
On March 2nd while still recovering from surgery Megan was able to get her MRI and on March 3rd suspicions were confirmed and she received the devastating news that she had only months to live. With her parents, her brother and her brothers girlfriend by their side the Andrews family began a new battle. A battle that would be harder than the one they just went through. This was not a battle for Megan to survive but a battle for her to live her best life. While there was a brief period of grieving Joe, Megan, Jude and Josiah decided that this was not the time to grieve her pending death, this was a time to celebrate her life. This was a time to enjoy every moment they had left as a complete family and to make sure she lives her best life however long that might be. They all knew there would eventually be a time for grieving but that time was not now.
When Megan was feeling better emotionally one of the first things she did was go down to the tattoo shop and get a matching tattoo with her husband Joe. It was his first tattoo and her second. The tattoo simply reads “Smile Always” written in her very own handwriting and is on both of their right wrists going up their arm. Anyone who knows Megan or has ever gotten any kind of email, card, letter or message from her knows that this has been her signature for a very long time. When she was 12 her parents friend wrote a message on her white board in her bedroom and signed it “Smile Always”. She liked it so much she immediately adopted it and it has been her signature ever since. The amazing thing is that not only was it her signature but it was how she chose to live her life. No matter how hard things were and no matter how much pain she was in she was determined to smile always. This became even more true as she battled cancer.
Now that the dust has settled and Megan has had time to process what is coming in the near future life looks a lot different. However, while most people would choose to look at it in a negative light, she has chosen to see the positive. Because of this continued attitude of positivity the family has launched an international movement called the Smile Always Movement. Their hope is that it will help change the hearts and attitudes of as many people worldwide as possible.
A close friend, Ally, offered to make shirts for the family and sell them in order to help raise funds to pay for expenses during this troubling time. The shirts range in price depending on size from $25-$30 and there is an additional fee for shipping. There is a donation made to the family of $10 for every shirt. If you would like to join the Smile Always Movement and purchase a shirt you can click the link below and send a DM to the ibekrafty page.
The family would like everyone to know that they really do appreciate all of the support and while this is something that is helping them out financially there will be a time that they turn it in to a charity and donate the money to someone else. The goal will be to find someone going through something similar and to bless them with something that will help them smile always. Also, they would request that you take a picture of yourself and anyone else you can get to join you while wearing the Smile Always shirts and post it to this page. The hope is that this grows and keeps growing for years to come and that Megan’s handwritten signature along with her incredible attitude is spread all over the world. This is her legacy!