The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

A survivor's journey

 

Larry Holcombe/Daily Globe

MEGHAN MOVRICH stands outside Westgate Nursing Home in Ironwood, where she is an activities director. The 27-year-old is planning surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to deal with her invasive form of breast cancer.

IRONWOOD - Meghan Movrich had a plan for the fall, like many other young adults, to head back to school.

Those who know the active 27-year-old mother of a 3-year-old daughter aren't surprised she has a bachelor's degree in health promotion and wellness. She's a former Bessemer high school and Gogebic Community College basketball player and now an activities director at Westgate Nursing Home in Ironwood.

But she saw career opportunities in the field of occupational therapy. Over the summer, she had signed up for classes. Books were purchased, she was ready to go. She just needed a physical.

That went well, but as they were finishing up, Movrich mentioned to the doctor a small lump she had found in her right breast during a self exam.

The doctor said it didn't feel like cancer as it was "small and squishy," but suggested she should be safe and get it checked out.

An ultrasound turned out inconclusive as "they couldn't recognize exactly what the mass was," said Movrich.

The next step was a biopsy. "I received the news on Aug. 11 that it was cancer," she said. "It all happened in a few weeks of time."

She started her doctoring locally, but on Aug. 25 she began seeing people at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Movrich has high praise for her experience at Mayo. "I feel better every time I leave there. The resources, the people, facilities. It's just awesome."

Her plan is to have a double mastectomy, but no date has been set for surgery yet. She goes for a reconstructive consultation on Monday.

While she also has the option of a lumpectomy. or removal of one breast, she calls the double mastectomy "the best option.

"Mentally, I feel it's the best chance of staying cancer-free," she said. "I know I have to go on a hormone pill for five years, that's standard, and I'm not sure I need chemo until they cut me open. Then they'll be able to tell how far it's spread."

While there are many steps ahead in Movrich's treatment and road to recovery, there has already been a great outpouring of support.

"Support from the community has been very overwhelming, in a good way," she said. "I left the community for six years and just moved back, and the support comes from all over. People come up to me with hugs and 'I'm praying for you,' – from people I don't even know."

The support has been very helpful, she said. "It's a scary time. I don't know a whole lot of 27-year-olds with cancer. I don't have a lot people to talk to about it that really understand."

Movrich said her family, including her longtime boyfriend and father of their daughter, Mia, Micheal Gotham, have been super supportive.

Before meeting with her team of doctors at Mayo, she met with a nurse who presented her with all sorts of information and an iPad to help her on her "journey."

"They highlighted parts that pertained to me, like how to cope when you're young and how to cope with a young child," she said. "They're always just a phone call away. They've been amazing."

Movrich had some genetic testing done and that came back negative, which is good news. "I'm grateful I don't have the gene. That means my daughter won't have to worry, or my mom."

Movrich said most patients her age have the gene.

"Even with the double mastectomy, there's still a 5 to 10 percent chance of the cancer coming back, but at least I'll feel like I did everything possible," said Movrich. "Mentally, I'll feel better without them."

Movrich said she doesn't know what caused her cancer, but figures it to be environmental.

"Everybody has cancer cells, it's just what activates them, I don't know."

Movrich is hopeful of having more children and has met with a fertility specialist to talk about issues. First there's the hormones she'll be on after surgery and then the possibility of chemotherapy.

While the mastectomy and reconstructive surgery are covered by insurance, the idea of saving some of her eggs is expensive.

"We're taking things one step at a time," Movrich said.

Movrich said her type of invasive mammary carcinoma is typically found in 70-year-old women.

"They were shocked," she said. "They said they see it in a 50-year-old and it's kind of weird; they see it in a 40-year-old and there's something going on with the test; they see it in a 30-year-old and they're mind-blown; and then they see it in someone in their 20s and their jaw drops.

"The worst part about it is the waiting game. I probably won't get into surgery for months. They're fairly certain it's not going to go into my lymph nodes, while it is invasive and spreading, we're doing what we need to do."

Many members of the community participated in a benefit last Saturday for Movrich at the Bessemer VFW. Besides the spaghetti dinner and many raffles, there was music and many smiles and hugs.

"We're trying to stay positive," said Movrich. "We have some hard days, but we're trying to stay positive. The support really helps that."

A "Meghan Movrich Cancer Benefit" account has been set up at First National Bank of Wakefield, 400 Sunday Lake St., Wakefield, MI 49968.

 
 

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