Getting her kids involved in a fundraiser to help support Susan G. Komen was a no-brainer for Megan Fleming. “Community service is a top priority for our family,” she said. But what set this fundraiser apart from others is how close to home it hit. In May 2023, Megan was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer at the age of 41.
After learning that a former classmate from University of Missouri had passed away from metastatic breast cancer at age 40, Megan’s college friends decided to take it as a sign to schedule their own screenings. Megan had not yet had a mammogram, so her doctor recommended a mammogram and a breast ultrasound be scheduled for the same day because of her breast density. When a biopsy was ordered, Megan wasn’t too concerned. “I always assumed that family history played a significant risk in developing breast cancer, and since I did not have any family history of any form of cancer, I thought the results would be benign,” she said. “But, after I was diagnosed, I learned that unless you have an inherited gene mutation, family history only plays a role in about 15% of breast cancer diagnoses.”
She met with doctors to begin planning her treatment regimen: 16 rounds of chemotherapy spread over 24 weeks, followed up by a lumpectomy, radiation and immunotherapy. Because her cancer was detected early, her prognosis was good. “It quickly became evident during these meetings that I was the beneficiary of decades of extensive funding and research around breast cancer,” she said. “And that’s when we decided to pay it forward.”
Megan’s oldest son, Jack, offered to create a video detailing just how much of an impact fundraising has had on breast cancer research. A 9-year-old fourth grader in California, Jack became engrossed in video creation and editing after he was introduced to it by his third-grade teacher as a part of a class project. “Normally, he does all the research on his topic when he makes a video, and I let him run with it. However, with this particular one, I didn’t want him to get scared by any of the grim or outdated facts and statistics out there, so I pulled together a fact sheet for him to use and his creative mind went to work,” she said. “I took him to Dollar Tree for supplies, and by the time he finished the video, his room looked like a tornado had gone through it. But, he worked so hard and the video was incredible, so it was worth it!”
In addition to Jack’s video, Megan’s youngest son, Max, 6, wanted to help. “He loves to cook, so we asked the incredible principal at the boys’ school if we could organize bake sales on Friday afternoons and she loved the idea. And they just took off from there and raised around $2,000 through them with one week left to go,” Megan said. “We encouraged people who donated to add a little pink to their baked goods, and we even had a group of girls come over and make Taylor Swift-style friendship bracelets with our school’s name and mascot on them. Everything sold out immediately.”
The support from the community and Jack’s video has added up; the fundraiser – which had a goal of $5,000 – has surpassed $11,000 and continues to grow. “It’s been amazing to see all our friends, family, and especially the school community rally around us to support our fundraising efforts. I’m incredibly proud of my boys and their hard work and am thrilled that this has gained so much traction and created such a positive vibe throughout our community in the process. The highlight though, is getting texts or emails from people saying they have scheduled their mammogram because of our fundraiser.”
Through it all, Megan hopes her story continues to inspire women to take action to get screened for breast cancer. “Wylie’s passing saved my life because it forced me to wake up and get my mammogram scheduled and allowed me to be handed a much better prognosis as a result. So, my message for women is to not only get those mammograms but also be diligent about getting them frequently because so much can change in a short amount of time.”
Megan’s family is fundraising for Komen through the organization’s DIY fundraising platform, which allows fundraisers to decide where, when and how to raise money for Komen, while providing a variety of tools and resources to help supporters along the way. To learn more or start your own fundraiser, visit http://www.komen.org/fundraise.
Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.