To borrow a phrase from Marcia Oddi at Indiana Law Blog, "Not Law But Interesting", the first posts on this blog 363 days ago included one about Meghan Steinberg.
Her dad, Jerry(L), a Louisville attorney, had a general practice including family law, and lives across the street from me. Her mom, Freeda Clark, is also a lawyer. The night before I had attended Meghan's first fundraising event. Just seven months post stem cell transplant, this young woman was trying to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. She could appear only briefly because of the risk of infection. Jerry led the ceremonies. It was a big success.
When any of us takes stock of a year of accomplishments, it is instructive to look at Meghan's efforts. That first event was just the tip of an iceberg. The following is from her new website Meghan's Mountain, where you can read more and donate, and I am asking you to donate:
Meghan’s Mountain is the story of Sarah “Meghan” Steinberg’s climb to life, and her efforts to make the world aware of the devastating effects of cancer and the need for all of us to work together to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for cancer. Meghan’s Mountain, in addition to raising funds for research, reaches out to those afflicted with cancer so that they know they are not alone in their climb to life.
On January 29, 2005, Meghan, at the age of twenty-two and a student at the University of Louisville school of Justice Administration, was diagnosed with leukemia (AML). Because of her illness, Meghan had to withdraw from college, give up her part time job and begin the fight of her life-the fight to live.
After spending almost four months in and out of hospitals in Louisville to put her cancer in remission, Meghan, in June of 2005, went to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle,
Washington for a needed stem cell transplant (sometimes called a bone marrow transplant). Without this additional procedure, Meghan would not have had a chance at life. Meghan underwent four months of treatment in Seattle before returning home in October of 2005.
When Meghan learned she had cancer, she realized that neither she nor her family truly understood what a cancer victim faced in order to live. If they did not understand, then others did not understand as well. Despite her own battle, Meghan opened up her world on the internet so that others would be able to travel her road with her. Meghan called her journey Meghan’s Mountain, her climb to life. Almost daily an email and/or pictures went out to tell the world what Meghan and her family had to endure on a daily basis in Meghan’s fight for life. Today those emails go to over twenty-five states, forty-three cities, and as far as Africa, India, Mexico and France.
It was not long before Meghan realized the impact of her journey on others. While in Seattle, Meghan received over 400 cards from people who were praying for her, including autographed pictures and best wishes from Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, Lt. Governor Steve Pence, and University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, as well as the entire U of L basketball team. Meghan received many phone calls, including one from Wes Unseld, general manager of the Washington Wizards wishing Meghan well.
One of the people who touched Meghan and gave her strength in her climb for life was former University of Louisville basketball coach and Naismith Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum. Coach Crum visited Meghan in the hospital in Louisville, called her on the phone before she left for Seattle and before she returned home, and sent her cards and letters. Coach Crum has helped Meghan with each of her fundraising events. In her honor, Coach Crum agreed to be the 2006 Honorary Chairman of the 2006 Kentucky & Southern Indiana Leukemia & Lymphoma’s Light the Night Walk held in Louisville in October. Meghan and Coach Crum still stay in contact with each other and share their individual desires to help others by donating their time and efforts to those that need us the most.
Meghan observed the pain and sorrow of so many who traveled a mountain like hers and, during her flight back home, decided that she was going to make a difference for all cancer patients. Meghan realized the importance of having love and prayers while climbing a mountain to beat cancer, and wanted to return that love to others.
Since Meghan returned home to Louisville, Kentucky in October of 2005, with the help of hundreds reaching out with her, she has accomplished the following:
1. Meghan, working with the National Marrow Donor Program in Minneapolis, had her picture of when she received her stem cell transplant on mini-billboards and bus stop shelter signs promoting the need for donors in transplants when a sibling was not a match. She continues to work with the local Marrow Program to inform and get people to volunteer to be donors to help save lives.
2. Meghan is working with the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to prepare baskets of love and information for newly diagnosed patients in local hospitals.
3. Meghan visits newly diagnosed cancer patients in hospitals to counsel them and let them know that they will not be alone in their climb up their mountain. Meghan, with their permission, tells those that receive her emails about these patients, and asks that emails, cards, gifts and prayers be sent there way. Meghan also “adopts” children in Seattle and Louisville who are going through cancer treatment and talks with them on a regular basis, giving them hope and belief that all things are possible.
4. Meghan raises funds to buy toys for the children who are fighting cancer in the Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.
5. Meghan is a volunteer at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky to help those who are fighting cancer and to bring promises of a better and brighter tomorrow to the children who are seeking life.
6. Meghan has been the keynote speaker at events for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and gives talks to others about the need to raise awareness and funds in the fight against cancer.
7. Surrounded by Team in Training Members of the Society, Meghan, in April of this year, crossed the finish line of the Kentucky Derby Mini-Marathon on behalf of cancer victims everywhere to let them know that all things are possible if you believe.
8. Meghan was responsible for having the first Leukemia & Lymphoma Night at the Louisville Bats at Slugger Field. The Louisville Bats are the minor league team of the Cincinnati Reds.
9. Meghan held events during 2006 to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night in October. Meghan not only raised more money than any other person or corporation for 2006, but also set a new all time Light the Night record for Kentucky and Southern Indiana ($32,000.00 plus).
Meghan was cancer free at one year upon her return to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle in July of 2006. She has returned to college, but has changed her major so that she can be a child life specialist helping children with cancer in hospitals like Kosair Children’s or institutions like the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Meghan’s dream is to find a cure for cancer, and until then, to reach out to those who are climbing mountains so that their dreams of life can come true.
Meghan’s story has appeared in the Courier-Journal, the Community Paper, and she has appeared on WLKY-TV. Metro Council, the governing body of Louisville, Kentucky, presented Meghan with an award for her efforts in awareness and raising funds to fight cancer. Kentucky Lt. Governor Steve Pence honored Meghan by having her become a member of the Order of Kentucky Colonels.
Through her charitable foundation, Meghan hopes to initiate new programs that will reach cancer victims and their families throughout this country and to raise funds for various organizations and hospitals in the fight to find a cure for cancer. Meghan’s dream is to find a better and brighter tomorrow for all of us.
Meghan is the 2006 Honoree of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Journey of Hope Award and the founder of Meghan’s Mountain Charitable Foundation, Inc.
Thumbs up to Meghan!