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...which was followed by a brief conversation threw our sobs then 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 am glad she had to unexpectedly hang up...I need time to absorb the honor 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 circumstances as a very young mother of four immersed in her extreme circumstances of responsibilities for her age…Megin had her children 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. She is so proud of her Irish heritage, a devout Democratic Catholic and still has platinum blonde hair and skin like snow. LOL And I am the polar opposite with my dark brown skin and black hair. So to me, our opposites were so great: our lives, our appearance, yet so much alike on the inside. Our loyalty to one another runs deep, we shared secrets, still do and a sisterly bond holds tight, today as it did thirty years ago. 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 my volleyball, road trips and sharing tales of my underage drinking at concerts and with my friends. While Megin recalled while in highschool that while her friends went out on the weekends 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. While I had four years at Bowling Green State University, so did Megin’s friends while she got married and had a second child. She never complained about her life or showed a 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. Even though she knew or knew of the cops, detectives and employees where I worked, they were her community. She would stick up for me. One day, while working at the beauty salon, she overheard a group of women which included a detective’s wife. They were gossiping about me. They were bashing me and called me a whore, while Megin swept of hair in the salon. LOL While most people would have just listened, Megin defended me! I remember her telling me she was sweeping up lol and 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! It meant a lot because I had only had two friends in the community and was being bullied 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 a pack of people went out into the woods to shoot guns after they had been drinking. I was horrified. Her ex’s family also bullied and made fun of Megin, all the time. They were mean. I also saw that they were not supportive of their marriage. She was definitely the subject of gossip, judgement and the butt of mean jokes. Rather then stick up for his wife, or tell them to stop it, he 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 being silent about the things I was witnessing between Megin and her ex-husband, Steve who was huge, he stood 6’5” & 280 lbs. along with the things she confided in me with. He demeaned her in front of me and her kids, was verbally abusive and eventually I learned was physically abusive. But I did not remember what exactly I had told my friend abuse 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 and 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...
So, on top of the monstrosities of responsibility of her tribe was she was also being abused by her huge, husband and his family. The first time, Megin stuck up for herself, we were on the phone and she thought she hung up. Her scream came 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. 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 to be a mom as well as detrimental to her entire being. I feel her extreme responsibilities, hardships has had an impact on why she has cancer, today. Megin also struggled with ‘situational addiction’ which is brought on after effects of ongoing trauma as victims of domestic violence often end up using a substance they normally would not use, had they not been subjected to so much fear, anxiety, worry and physical pain. I get it...I think most can grasp this basic concept. I have always told Megin her addiction is situational. No if’s, and’s or but’s. She has been off opiates for ten years However, her addiction is used by her ex-husband and some of her children used as a means to abuse her.
Steve was evil. Even on family day while in treatment, a MALE clinician told Megin after talking to Steve, it was a very dismal situation for her to try and stay sober with him around… So, eventually they were divorced and Steve benefited greatly from Megin’s inheritance from her grandmother as it allowed Megin to buy in cash a 155,000 house.
**Which Steve sold while Megin was in treatment without her knowledge. The house was bought from her trust which from my understanding is NOT martial property in Ohio.
**Then he filed for back child support after years of a verbal agreement of helping the kids mutually. He is still receiving it with 3 kids in their 30's w kids of their own and 2 kids are married.
**Steve will get Megin's Social Security back pay. Steve received Megin's stimulus checks too.
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!
It is repulsive...but then again, he brainwashed his kids against their own mother, so this is easy to believe...
To this day, Marlene, who is now a retired nurse that still helps her grandchildren. Marlene also takes Megin to all her appointments at the Cleveland Clinic. Megin and I reconnected several years ago, I found her on Facebook. When we reconnected she told me she had gotten a virus in her heart and was in a nursing home for six months. I remember thinking my dear friend literally has a broken heart and all this shit from her ex husband has made her literally sick. I also remember Megin with a deep sadness in her voice, telling me her ex-husband did not bring the kids ONCE to see her in SIX months...It made my heart pound...He is evil...
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. 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! The other night, I sent Megin an article that seemed like it was written about Megin’s life in regards to the extensive health problems that can arise from enduring years of domestic violence-that is can cause cancer...