My Irish Twin: Megin Kilbane's battle with breast cancer~

Hello!

Welcome to my column-My Irish Twin: Megin Kilbane's battle with breast cancer~in honor of my sister/friend, Megin Kilbane, 50 who has been battling breast cancer for the last year & several months. The cancer has spread and in October, she had a partial hysterectomy.

I was going to write one article but there is so much more to Megin's journey! So, Megin will continue to share about her life & battle with breast cancer, HERE! She is excited about having this opportunity!

I know so many of us, understand the battles with cancer. We are all effected in one way or another by this evil disease! It also brings out the best in people-fighting for their lives & families!

I love you, Megin Kilbane-This one is for YOU! 

Eternally,

Your Irish Twin :)

My Irish Twin: Megin Kilbane's battle with breast cancer~

My Irish Twin: Megin Kilbane's battle with breast cancer~

One of my greatest honors of my life happened recently...my friend, Megin asked me if I would do the eulogy at her funeral. Her words blindsided me and I was silent...while at the same time, I took a deep focus on her words and I bit my lip hard to keep from bursting out crying...I reminded myself to take a deep breathe as I listened to what she was asking of me. I took another long, deep breath before I told her I would be so honored to do this...Then we both burst out crying...threw our sobs Megin quickly interjected, “My mom is here, I gotta go…” Megin hung up before I had just begun to process what she so bravely asked of me...I needed time to absorb the honor that had been bestowed on me...I was numb and then a wave of emotions took me over for the next half an hour.

Megin, now 50 has breast cancer that spread to her cervix which was recently removed along with her ovaries. She is not cancer free. She had a mastectomy on New Year’s eve of 2018. Then the partial hysterectomy ten months later. Since Megin’s cancer was fueled by estrogen production she was prescribed a drug that she was warned caused suicidal ideation. Weeks later, Megin called me experiencing these horrible side effects she was warned about. I told her to talk to her mom who was a nurse and her doctor to get the hell off the drug. When she told me about the depth services she was receiving at the Cleveland Clinic, I was truly overjoyed as her friend. I knew she would need it. I was shocked, yet understood why her cancer was PTSD related. As I was aware of her extreme circumstances as a very young mother of four who was immersed  in responsibilities. Megin had her first child at 15, was married at 18, had her second baby at 19 & third at 21 and fourth after we became friends.

I met Megin when we were both 24 in Euclid, Ohio. We became fast friends. She worked for my boyfriend’s mother at the time. I would go to visit her at work when he was not there. Then we would spend a lot of time with Megin at her home, hanging out with her children. I quickly knew she took her responsibilities as a mom to heart and with great honor. I often wondered if something was wrong with me when I saw how much Megin loved being a mother. When at the time, I worked hard, partied hard and was focused on the LSAT to get into law school. And regularly said out loud that “I am NEVER having children!” LOL As a social worker and auntie who was helping raise two little darlings at that time, I did not get how someone was such a good, committed mom at such a young age. I had mad respect for it. I thought her thought process was normal and something was wrong with mine...

I nicknamed, Megin, my Irish twin almost three decades ago. Our opposites were so great: our lives, our appearance, our ethnic identity-yet we were so much alike on the inside...spiritually connected. Forever! Megin is so proud of her Irish heritage, a devout Democratic Catholic and still has platinum blonde hair with skin like snow. :) And I am the polar opposite with my dark brown skin, black hair and adopted w no knowledge of my hertiage......We both had huge hearts with a passion to help others, loved deeply, were niave' and loyal...Our loyalty to one another runs deep, we shared secrets, still do...We have a sisterly bond that holds tight today, just as it did thirty years ago. We were born months apart, like Irish twins which was a term I learned from Megin...Hence, she is my understanbly, Irish Twin. :)

Back then, Megin worked as a beautician and health aide while, I was single, no children and was working for the City of Euclid as their first Advocate for victims of domestic violence. Megin grew up in this community, a tight knit, full of Irish Catholic pride. She knew everyone, where I knew no one. We couldn’t have been more different but were supportive of each other. No judgements, just unconditional friendship. She was loyal, honest and really hard on herself. I quickly admired her strength. She shared about her life as a teenager being pregnant at a Catholic school. I will never forget how she told me she was in a trailer or van in the back of the school...to be taught...when she was pregnant...

I remember talking about high school: playing volleyball, road trips and sharing tales of going to concerts and obtaining alcohol...While Megin recalled while in highschool her friends went out on the weekends while she was home raising her daughter...Until she was 18, Megin lived with her mother, Marlene, who was a solid foundation for Megin’s large family and still is today. During this time, her daughter's father, Steve Jusko was able to maintain a normal teenage life while Megin and Marlene raised their daughter...

While Megin’s friends and I were away at college, she got married and had two more children by the time we graduated. She never complained about her life or said she wished she had another life, nor did she show resentment that she was missing out of life..ever. Megin faced her responsibilities head on. I marveled in Megin’s commitment to her children at such a young age...I still am to this day!

As my friend, Megin was also fiercely loyal to me despite her own hardships. Even though the cops, detectives and employees that I worked were her community, she still stuck up for me against them! One day, while working at the beauty salon, Megin overheard a group of women which included a detective’s wife gossiping about me. They were bashing me and called me a whore. While most people would have just listened, Megin defended me to them! I remember her telling me she was sweeping up hair :) , went over to them, and said that she was my friend! And they were wrong about what they were saying...and they needed to end it! That was the BEST especially because I was being bullied and harassed at work-so her loyalty meant everything to me!

I would babysit Megin’s children and attended family events, like the time I went to a pig roast on her ex husband’s family farm, east of Cleveland in the country. I had never seen a pig roast before. I remember as I was driving out there, telling my boyfriend jokingly that I knew I would be the only non-white person there. Which I was... I almost had a heart attack when Megin’s ex-husband, his famiy and other attendess went out into the woods to shoot guns after they had been drinking. I was horrified…

So, on top of the monstrosities of responsibility of her tribe, I came to learn Megin was also being abused by her very large, husband and his family. The first time, Megin stuck up for herself, we were on the phone and she thought she hung up. I heard her scream which seem to come from the bottom of her lungs and faded as if she was running from him. It horrified me so much. I called the police and they only called and he told them everything was OK.

Steve's family also bullied and made fun of Megin, all the time. They were mean. I saw they were not supportive of their marriage. She was definitely the subject of their family’s gossip, judgement and the butt of mean jokes. Rather then stick up for his wife, or tell them to stop it, Steve joined in on the abuse and harassment. It was her against an entire family which included several generations and eventually trickled down to Megin’s own children.

I remember initally, being silent about the things I was witnessing between Megin and her ex-husband, Steve who was huge, he stood 6’3” ish & 280 lbs. He demeaned her in front of me and her kids...he was verbally abusive. I did not remember what exactly I had told my friend about what I was witnessing. However, Megin recently told me that back then, I told her in a loving way that it was abusive how she was being treated at times. She said she had no idea that what she had been experiencing was abuse. I also never told her how Steve tried to kiss me on the lips at his birthday party in which my date saw...but I did recently to remind her he wasn’t just an asshole to her...

It was painfully obvious and hard for me to witness. I always told her that Steve’s behavior did not reflect her integrity as a mother but it certainly interfered with her ability. It was very detrimental to her entire being. I feel her extreme responsibilities and hardships has had an impact on why she has cancer, today.

Megin also struggled with ‘situational addiction’ which was induced by the stress of having four children without the financial means to support them and enduring an abusive husband. I told her many of us use substances we normally would not, if we weren’t traumatized & subjected to so much: fear, anxiety, worry...physical pain. I have always told Megin her addiction was situational. No if’s, and’s or but’s. That was my professional opinion as a social worker who specialized in work with domestic violence survivors and as a survivor of it...

Megin, now has been off opiates for ten years. Her addiction has been used against her by her ex-husband and some of her children. They treat it like it is a weakness. Steve was evil. Even on family day while Megin was in treatment, a MALE clinician told Megin after talking to Steve-it was a very dismal for her sobriety being around Steve. So, eventually they were divorced and Steve benefited greatly from Megin’s inheritance from her grandmother. Steve never had to hit financial rock bottom because Megin’s mother, Marlene always bailed them out. I remember them not having enough money for food, her daughter’s tuition and basic bills. Megin refused my help because she said it was Steve’s responsibility, NOT MINE!

Steve again showed his greed by suing Megin for a house bought by Megin’s inhertiance. If Steve had any integrity he would have never sued Megin for her family’s money. It is repulsive...but then again, he brainwashed his kids against their own mother, so this is easy to believe...

Megin and I reconnected several years ago, I found her on Facebook. One of the things that sticks out was that it did not surprise me when she told me when she had caught a virus in her heart and was in a nursing home for six months-Steve never brought the kids to see her...NEVER...Steve continued to be evil...

I remember thinking my dear friend literally has a broken heart... and her ex-husband has made her literally sick...by his continued his abuse...after their divorce...

When I reread this just a summary of what my warrior, Irish Twin has endured, it is no wonder she has cancer. She has been through a lot. I have learned a lot through her journey. I know my dear, Irish Twin is scared. I am scared right along with her. I told her I am there for her, no matter what her choices are...or the prognosis is...Megin is so much braver than she will ever know. She has faced cancer head on with her mother by her side! To this day, Megin’s mom now a retired nurse still helps her grandchildren, stands strongly by Megin’s side and takes Megin to all her appointments at the Cleveland Clinic.

The other night, I sent Megin an article that seemed like it was written about her  in regards to what she's endured and the health problems she's incurred. It spoke specifically about the long term-extensive health problems that arise from enduring years of domestic violence…I told Megin, this includes...your cancer...

Me & Megin Kilbane aka My Irish Twin -1995 Cleveland, OH