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Cancer during COVID-19: A survivor's story

Megan True was diagnosed with leukemia at the same time COVID-19 forced a shutdown that lasted for weeks. The Triad mom and now cancer survivor shares her story.

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Imagine being diagnosed with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two major life-changing things happening at once would have broken almost anybody, but it made one Triad mom even stronger.

Megan True was diagnosed with cancer in April 2020, about a month after the pandemic forced stay-at-home orders and shutdowns.

"Suddenly I find myself working from home," True said. "I have an 18-month-old daughter running around the house, I'm trying to teach 4- and 5-year-olds to submit computer assignments, and on top of that, my husband had been furloughed, which led to him being unemployed."  

Adding to the problems brought on by the pandemic, the Forsyth County kindergarten teacher started to feel sick.

"I was having a hard time walking across my house without having to stop," True said. "I was very out of breath and I couldn't even pick up my own daughter."

RELATED: Triad Light the Night shines on as a virtual event

A doctor's appointment revealed something was seriously wrong with her blood work. Her doctor sent her to the emergency room and after several blood transfusions, she was diagnosed with cancer.

"It was that evening that I first heard the word leukemia," True said. "You never want to go through it no matter what the situation, but to have to tell your loved ones that over a text message and having to go through this by yourself was just completely life-changing." 

Doctors at Novant Hospital diagnosed her with acute myeloid leukemia or AML. 

"The average age for a person with the type of leukemia that I had is 68, so when I found that out I was like, 'wait what?'  I was only 32," True said.

She started her treatment immediately, staying isolated from family for nearly a month.

"During the 29 days, there were still no visitors, so we ate dinner together as a family over an iPad on facetime," True said. "I would look out of my window and see all of my loved ones and get to watch my daughter run around and play."

Now MRD negative, there are no cancer cells in her body and she just celebrated one year of remission.

RELATED: Wish granted! Greensboro girl rings victory bell marking the end of cancer treatment on her birthday

True immediately found support at the LLS Society taking part in the Triad Light the Night event, which is virtual for the second year in a row.

Her team's name: True's crew!

"It was one of the first things I heard about and it was that thing I said 'I can't wait for this!'' She said. There's something that's going to bring people together. I'll be able to meet people like me." 

True will raise her white survivor's lantern for the second time this Saturday night, hoping to one day drive out the darkness of cancer.

"There are success stories and we just hope that eventually there will be a world without blood cancers," True said.

Megan True is the Honored Hero for this year's LLS Virtual Triad Light the Night event. You can hear more of her story and take part in the online ceremony on Saturday at 7 p.m.  You can find more information here.