GASPORT, NY: Strong Show of Support –Rare Cancer Not Getting Girl Down
“By Bill Wolcott, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
GASPORT – Meghan Redenbach, 13 [year old], honor student and athlete, has a rare form of ovarian cancer, fibrosarcoma.
There are only 30 documented cases of this cancer diagnosed in the United States, according to the family, and the daughter of Michael and Cathy Redenbach is only the second child ever diagnosed.
The family needs help with mounting expenses, and reaction in the community has been overwhelming. Neighbors and businesses have taken note. Meghan’s Fund was established by the Rainbow of Health, and Royalton neighbors plan a fundraiser March 8 at Terry’s Corner Fire Hall.
Treatment for Meghan’s cancer began after Christmas at Roswell Park [Cancer Institute]. She goes to Roswell every three weeks and stays overnight for therapy Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She will come home Monday, depending on how she feels.
‘I’m doing great, actually,’ she said this week.
A Chinese auction, raffles and children’s activities are planned. Hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza, which were donated, will be served for $1. A donated 2010 Mustang will be raffled through the Matthew Foster Foundation to benefit the family.
‘It is phenomenal. The outpouring in this community is overwhelming,’ said neighbor Melinda Hagie, who is working on the benefit with Carole George and Shelly Ratzell. More than a dozen volunteers meet at the George home to work on the benefit, which has been given a boost from the Rainbow Foundation.
Meghan is a diehard sport fanatic, according to her father, and excels in softball, basketball and volleyball. On the day before she became ill, she tried out to play for Niagara Frontier Volleyball, a traveling team that competes statewide and in Pennsylvania. There were 70 girls who tried out for the 14-under squad and only 30 made it.
The family found out the next day about her cancer.
‘I started feeling an upset stomach on Dec. 6,’ she said. ‘At the worst, I thought is was appendix.’
On Dec. 9, Meghan was suffering from extreme cramping in the abdomen and took a battery of tests at Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. A CAT scan, X-rays and ultrasound revealed a mass on her ovary. She had emergency surgery, and a cancer the size of a cantaloupe was removed.
Ovarian cancer is something usually found in post-menopausal women.
‘They can’t give us any cause,’ Meghan’s father said. ‘There are limited statistics on it.’
Her third treatment was Feb. 6-8, and she returns to Roswell on Friday. Meghan is scheduled for nine treatments.
‘The first three treatments were pretty rough. The third a little smooth,’ Meghan said. ‘I bounce back after a week and hang out with friends. I’ve got a pretty positive outlook on everything.’
Dad said Meghan was scared and upset about losing her hair.
Michael added, ‘Her spirits are great. She is strong-willed and very competitive. Her attitude is fantastic and supportive of us. She’s our little stone. She’s been strong for us. It’s a lot easier with her having a positive attitude. The nurses say that’s half the battle.’
Because the cancer is rare, doctors can’t give a prognosis. Roswell doctors are checking with specialists nationwide for treatment, according to the father.
‘They are optimistic,’ dad said. ‘We’re staying positive. I’m so proud of her.’
Meghan made the junior varsity volleyball team as an eighth-grader and was promoted to the varsity for the sectionals.
A Mediport – a device that delivers medications directly into the blood system – was implanted into a main artery in her chest during a second surgery. Meghan is not allowed to play contact sports, but does travel to games with the Niagara Frontier Volleyball team and cheers on her Roy-Hart basketball team.
‘She’s biting her lips sitting on the bench,’ dad said. ‘The school administration and her teammates are very supportive.’
Her teammates wear pink shirts with her name on it for warm-ups. ‘It’s crazy sitting on the sideline,’ Meghan said. ‘It’s hard, but you gotta do what you gotta do.’
Michael works as a corrections officer at the Albion Correctional Facility, and co-workers have volunteered to do the cooking at the fundraiser. Michael said, ‘Everyone is very supportive. You hear about it all the time, but when it’s happening to you, it’s something else.’
Nancy works as a literacy aide at the Country Parkway School in Williamsville. Dad played football and baseball at Williamsville East, and mom was a track star and softball player at Williamsville North. Brother Nick, 18, is a Niagara University freshman.
Baskets donations are also being accepted and can be dropped of at the Middleport Village Hall or by contacting Carole George at [716-] 772-7834 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Shelly Ratzel at [716-]688-8795 or email@example.com. Cash donations can be made at any First Niagara Bank or meghansfund.org.
Contact reporter Bill Wolcott at [716-]439-9222, ext. 6246.”
Quoted Source: GASPORT: Strong show of support, by Bill Wolcott, Local Story section, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, February 21, 2009.