Fighting Breast Cancer with Small Steps, Big Strides

“I am blessed to be here and keep trying to deserve this life,” says Megan Boyle, Evanston resident and 8-year cancer survivor.

This is from a woman who couldn’t walk after her first chemo treatment in 2002 because her body had lost the ability to clot a minor bruise and then 7 months later decided to participate in Making Strides for Breast Cancer, a 5-mile walk that benefits the American Cancer Society.

Boyle has participated every year since, and during the last 8 years, her family and her husband’s company, Baker & McKenzie LLP, have made some strides of their own. In addition to participating in the walk every year, they’ve helped raise more than $300,000, with more than $20,000 of that raised for this year’s event on Oct. 18 alone.

meganboyle1_3Boyle was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ. Stage 2b breast cancer at 41 when the youngest of her 4 children was just 3 years old. The following weeks were a whirlwind of diagnosis, second opinions and surgery.

“In 2002, I was working out with a friend at the gym and felt a lump under my arm,” she says. “I didn’t think much of it, but I did go to the doctor.”

Because the cancer was already in her lymph glands, Boyle had a mastectomy within a couple weeks of her diagnosis. Five months of chemotherapy followed.

When her treatment was finished in the fall of 2002, she heard about the strides walk and figured it was time to take a few steps herself.

“I decided I should do something proactive for all the effort people made toward me getting better,” Boyle says. “You have to start sometimes with small steps,” she says.

meganboyle2_2And Boyle’s small steps have translated into something as far reaching as raising hundreds and thousands of dollars for breast cancer research and something as simple as encouraging new cancer patients through the road to recovery.

Each year after the walk, Boyle and her family host a barbeque.

“It’s very life affirming,” she says.

Through her journey, she says she learned to realize that every day and every person in her life is a gift. So, now she spends time giving that gift to others.

Plus, she says the research that this walk raises money for is so important, and that’s exactly the reason she chose the American Cancer Society to raise money for.

“Nobody wants to be bald on top of having cancer,” Boyle says. “So far they haven’t figured a way around that. But it would be great if they did.”

To donate, visit Megan Boyle’s fund-raising website.

Recommended Reading

Breast Cancer Husband : How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) during Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond ” by Marc Silver—A guide to dealing with diagnosis, addressing men’s stereotypes, and then advising men how to behave.

Breast Cancer Survival Manual, Fourth Edition: A Step-by-Step Guide for the Woman With Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer ” by John Link—written by a doctor, this is a step-by-step guide to diagnosis, kinds of breast cancer and treatments.

Breast Cancer: Real Questions, Real Answers ” by David Chan—structured as a Q&A between doctor and patient, this book addresses what breast cancer is, options for surgery and reconstruction and how to navigate through diagnosis and treatment.

Just Get Me Through This!: The Practical Guide to Breast Cancer ” by Deborah A. Cohen with Robert M. Gelfand, M.D.—written by a breast cancer survivor and an oncologist this book is upbeat and practical with tips on everything from treatment to reconstruction to post-chemo headgear.

Recommended websites:

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

American Cancer Society

Illinois Cancer Help