Helping the Healing
26 Aug 2011
Sarah Meyer lost her precious baby Degen to cancer in 2009. Sarah shares her story and hopes it will help to inspire others. Read about her journey of healing here.
Degen’s journey through life was one of pure love and amazing strength. His journey inspired people all around the world, with his cheeky smile, beautiful nature and fighting spirit. Degen’s name means “Warrior” in German, and it is certainly a true fit for him.
Degen was diagnosed with rhabdoid tumour of the liver while we were on holiday in the USA, visiting my family. I noticed his abdomen getting bigger and before we knew it we were ‘living’ at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. (The 3rd best hospital in the world for peadiatric cancer treatment, according to a recent poll.) Despite having the best care possible, the cancer was just too aggressive and Degen became an angel on 29 November 2009 here in New Zealand.
Before Degen was born, I worked in marketing and communications and always enjoyed my roles. However, I always felt something was missing. I always felt I needed to do more to help others, but I never knew what that was. I never knew how to find out what that missing piece was.
Because of Degen’s journey, I was inspired to go back to school. I had no intention of returning to my old job and needed something worthwhile to do. My parents stayed with us for two months and I toured a lot of New Zealand with them. It was wonderful to have them help me heal. Or at least be here to support me. However, when they headed back to the USA in February, I needed something more to take my mind off of losing Degen and trying to integrate back into ‘normal life’.
On a whim, I applied to nursing school at Universal College of Learning (UCOL) in Palmerston North. I was told there was a waitlist of 50 people, so not to get my hopes up. Well, my angel wanted me in class, because a week before school started up, I was enrolled!
Our regional Family Support coordinator Robyn Booker was amazing to my husband Edan and I, as she was constantly checking in with us to make sure we were ok – and sought out what she could do to help us out. When I told Robyn I had applied and been accepted to nursing school, she informed me of the Child Cancer Foundation scholarships and encouraged me to apply.
The scholarship came at a perfect time for Edan and I – it truly helped alleviate the financial stress studying full-time can bring. We didn’t worry where all the extra money would need to come from – the scholarship helped me to buy textbooks, pay course fees, and purchase all of my nursing gear. I am so grateful for the financial help of the Foundation to help me pursue such a worthwhile career in honour of my angel Degen.
I have finished year one of my bachelor of nursing degree, earning A’s and B’s in my classes. I truly enjoyed the challenge of the classes and had a wonderful time on my first placement. I am already looking forward to earning my Bachelor of Nursing, then working towards my Masters of Nursing and eventually becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner.
I am currently taking six months off of school, returning full-time in July, because halfway through my first year, Edan and I were (delightfully) surprised to be expecting Meyer baby #2! And on 13 January 2011, we welcomed Gretchen into the world – on her daddy’s birthday! Gretchen is a much-welcomed gift and we are so thrilled to have her in our lives. She looks remarkably like her brother, but is also such an individual.
Edan and I are so thankful to have had Degen in our lives and we miss him so dearly. While we wish he was here with us on Earth, we know he is always with us here in spirit and he continues to inspire us in our lives with memories of his sweet smile and feisty spirit.
Degen’s journey can be read here at: www.caringbridge.org/visit/degenmeyer.
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