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Morgan's Story

As written by her mother, Kelly

Morgan was the sweetest, happiest baby any parent could want. Along with her brother Eric, 2 years older, our life was full, busy, & what I always dreamed. Then in March 2007, that all came to a halt. At the age of almost 18 months, Morgan was diagnosed with stage 4 Yolk Sac Carcinoma. How did this happen? Why did this happen? What do we do next? Morgan went from a free-spirited happy toddler to an innocent child fighting for her life! Her tumor started at her tailbone and grew just enough to hit a nerve and caused her to lose the use of her left leg. She could barely crawl. She went from being my sweet baby one Thursday and the next Thursday undergoing chemo. In the span of one week, our heads were spinning, and we felt as if we had no control over life any more. Morgan, however, was about to prove to us how amazing she truly is! She fought everyone on everything: the oncologist, the neurosurgeon, physical therapists and nurses. She clung to me and I to her. After her first round of chemo, she of course got weaker, but also stronger. Morgan was fitted for a brace for her left drop foot that occurred and did physical therapy daily. She underwent six rounds of chemo and three surgeries all before her 2nd birthday. She also had a tethered cord which was taken care of during one of the 3 surgeries. Her smile, her heart and her quiet strength is what carried us through. We did what we were told, and she continued to improve. Every obstacle that was put in front of her, she fought and overcame.

With sadness and heartbreak, there can emerge the brightest light. Ours came when we were told about Lending Hearts. This amazing organization plans experiences for childhood cancer survivors and their families. In March 2012, we went on our first outing with Lending Hearts. Our excursion was in Homestead. The National Aviary brought penguins for us to see up close. It was truly an amazing experience and solidified our belief in this tremendous organization. Morgan has danced at the Byham Theater with a professional ballet company, gone on Ducky Tours, museum tours, Heinz History Center tours, visited the Pittsburgh Zoo and Phipps Conservatory to just name a few. Her favorite always involves the Pittsburgh Pirates. I feel like I get so much more. Lending Hearts provides the chance for my daughter to do things that we could never provide for her and allows her to just be a kid. It gives us, the parents, a place to connect with others who know exactly how we feel. They understand the worry and the fear. All of the other parents “get it.” They understand our feelings. They know the fear we live with on a daily basis. They also know how the littlest things in life are truly the most important. When Morgan hugs me and tells me she loves me, my heart soars. If I could change her past to not include cancer, I would in a heartbeat, but the amazing things she has done due to her diagnose, astound me.

Today, she is 11+ years cancer free! Morgan checks in with Dr. Tersak at Children's Hospital once every 2 years. This June will be her next appointment. She no longer wears a brace on her left leg and, in many ways, just your typical 7th grader. However, she does have her battle scars. She wears them with pride. They helped form her in to the young lady she is today. I feel honored to be her Mom. Every time there is an obstacle put in her way, cancer related or not, she attacks it head on with heart and grace. I have no idea what the future holds in store for her, but I know whatever it is, she will continue to amaze us with her quiet strength and her Lending Heart! I am so grateful to Vasso & our Lending Hearts family. As I write this, Morgan asks me if I am crying? Well, of course, I am!


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