A Centennial woman who survived an intense battle with leukemia as a teenager is now looking to give back by becoming The Leukemia & Lymphoma …
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A Centennial woman who survived an intense battle with leukemia
as a teenager is now looking to give back by becoming The Leukemia
& Lymphoma Society’s 2011 Woman of the Year.
A few days before her 16th birthday, Megan McEwan went to a
Maine hospital for a chest X-ray under suspicion of pneumonia. The
X-ray uncovered fluid in her lungs and a tumor on her sternum.
Subsequent tests discovered additional fluid surrounding her
“When you have fluid around your heart, you can’t last too long
like that,” McEwan said.
She was immediately airlifted to Children’s Hospital Boston,
where doctors inserted a tube into her chest to drain the fluid. A
bone marrow test confirmed a nightmare scenario: the teenager had
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“At that point, they started pretty intense chemotherapy and it
caused all the cancer cells to go to my kidneys,” McEwan said.
Her kidneys failed, causing a “significant roadblock” to her
recovery, McEwan said. She spent three weeks receiving dialysis
until her kidneys began functioning again. The organ failure took a
terrible toll on her body.
“By that point, I had pretty much lost all my strength. I had to
relearn how to walk and kind of start over,” McEwan said.
She underwent two years of weekly chemotherapy and finally beat
her cancer into remission. She has not had a relapse in nearly nine
Now, McEwan wants to ensure people in situations similar to hers
have access to the highest levels of care and support. The Man
& Woman of the Year contest work as a fundraiser, with each
dollar solicited counting as a vote.
“All the money raised goes to research for blood cancer
treatments and patient and family support programs,” said Rhiannon
Hendrickson, a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Rocky
Mountain Chapter’s Board of Trustees.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society donated $72 million
nationwide to blood cancer research in 2010. The disease afflicts
nearly 960,000 people in the U.S. alone, and someone dies from it
approximately every 10 minutes, Hendrickson said.
McEwan is competing against four other women for the honor. But
in this contest, the true winners are the patients who benefit from
the money raised.
“This was just an opportunity in a very small way to give back,”
In 2010, the local Man & Woman of the Year campaign garnered
more than $200,000 with eight candidates. There are 10 nominees
this year — five men and five women — and the society has increased
the goal to $250,000, Hendrickson said. The 10 candidates are the
most the Rocky Mountain Chapter, which comprises all of Colorado
and part of Wyoming, has ever had.
The winners will be announced at a gala from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
May 20 at the Denver Mariott City Center. The nominees can continue
to solicit for money right up until the awards ceremony, including
at a silent auction directly preceding the event.
“The candidates do not know how much they have raised, and the
totals are completely confidential,” Hendrickson said.
The local winner will go on to compete for national Man &
Woman of the Year honors.
McEwan has tried every trick in the book to support her cause.
She’s organized a benefit concert and small events at several
Centennial businesses, but her friends and family continue to
provide the most generous donations, she said.
“Every dollar counts and it’s been a great experience,” McEwan
said. “I’m excited to finish the last few weeks out.”
To donate to McEwan or any other Man or Woman of the Year
candidate, interested individuals can visit www.mwoy.org/rm.
Tickets for the Grand Finale Gala are also available on the website
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