Meet Meaghan Nally, a professional soccer player who witnesses a courageous “Don’t Ever Give Up!”
® spirit every day in her mom, a three-time cancer survivor.
My mom, affectionately known to all as Judy, is super cool and a die-hard Red Sox fan. Most importantly, she is a positive light in my life and for everyone she meets. Despite her long battle with cancer, she has always been my rock, my friend, and my mom.
Thankfully, cancer research keeps wonderful and irreplaceable people in our lives for a long time, so we can continue to FaceTime, lean on, and play board games with them.
Judy was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while pregnant with me. Ironically, I was born in June, and my astrological sign is Cancer. Shortly after my birth, Judy underwent chemotherapy. She soon celebrated the news that she was cancer-free, but that elation was short-lived. Four months later, Hodgkin’s returned. This time, she faced more chemotherapy, followed by radiation and a bone marrow transplant. Unquestionably, it was a tough time – she couldn’t eat solid food and my dad had to change her intravenous liquid nutrition bags, all while raising an active baby. The treatments cleared her cancer but left lifelong side effects such as spinal cord damage, altered feeling in her feet affecting her gait and a constant burning sensation in her legs that makes them feel like they are “wrapped in a washcloth of fire.”
Before cancer, my mom was a collegiate swimmer – incredibly fit and fiercely competitive. Growing up, I watched sports 24/7 on four TVs in the living room. One night, I vividly remember my parents beckoning me to watch Jim Valvano’s legendary speech during V Week. My mom got a bit emotional as she connected with Jim’s passionate plea, “Don’t Ever Give Up!”
Despite the challenges of being a cancer survivor, my mom found joy in life and always pushed me to pursue my passion for sports. Never sugarcoating her words, she was both my toughest critic and strongest inspiration. One of her best quotes, “Don’t wade in a quagmire of mediocrity,” says it all.
When I was a teenager, Judy was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a direct side effect of the radiation 15 years prior. Thankfully, after a double mastectomy and another round of chemotherapy, she defeated the disease again, though the experience brought many new physical and emotional challenges.
These days, it’s hard for her to walk as her bones are brittle and break easily. She has trouble healing from infections and surgeries. But despite everything, Judy never complains, and her positive attitude always shines, even as she faces depression and PTSD from her cancer experiences. All my friends want to hang out with her, and my mom loves to hang out with them. I aspire to build the sort of friendships she has with her own friends, who have seen her through it all.
I am grateful my mom is alive – I would not be who I am today or have experienced as much joy had it not been for her successful cancer treatments.
Fortunately, research is making extraordinary strides, especially in creating more personalized therapies. I can only wonder if mom’s life would be different if she had targeted treatments with fewer, gentler side effects. This is why I am advocating and raising awareness for the critical need for survivorship research. More effective treatments and better patient experiences are imperative so our loved ones can not only live but thrive after cancer.
– Meaghan Nally, V Foundation supporter
Helping Patients Thrive After Cancer
Are you interested in learning more about how the V Foundation supports cancer research to help patients thrive post-recovery? Read about a childhood cancer survivors grant and an ovarian cancer grant recently funded through the Robin Roberts Thrivership Fund.