BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) —We all find it tough to live life to the fullest in the middle of a global pandemic. One Bakersfield mom’s tragic story is inspiring others to appreciate every single day.
Diagnosed with terminal cancer and only months left to live, Megan Andrews, 38, said she still finds joy in uncertain times and a motivation to stick to her motto, “Smile Always.”
“There’s not a space in my brain to comprehend that I won’t be here next year at this time,” Andrews said. “I don’t have a place to put that.”
Last year, Megan thought the worst was over. She thought she had beaten breast cancer.
“I completed all of my chemo and my radiation for breast cancer,” Andrews said. “We thought we were done. I no longer had any breast cancer.”
But just last month, just as America began worrying about the coronavirus pandemic, the Andrews family got devastating news. Megan’s cancer was back, and it had spread to her brain and spine.
“The doctor said to me, ‘There are two ways to go about this. Basically if you do no treatments you have 4-6 weeks,’” Joe Andrews, Megan’s husband said. “It’s that aggressive. Or you could do a treatment and we don’t know how long it’s going to be. I did research online, everything says five to six months with treatments.”
Megan was diagnosed with leptomeningeal disease. The Andrews family is preparing for a life without Megan, a woman who chooses to see the good in everything.
“Multiple times after her breast cancer diagnosis she actually said, ‘Getting breast cancer is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,’” Joe said.
Joe and Megan have two sons, 12-year-old Jude and 10-year-old Josiah.
“My son one day was like, ‘Dad, I’ve been asking God to make mom better, and he hasn’t. She’s gotten worse,’” Joe said. And I had to tell him, ‘Something really big and really good is going to come from this.’”
An unshaken hope in “something good” has inspired others to stand in support of the Andrews family. Also, due in part to Megan’s motivation to “Smile Always.”
“When I was young, my parents had a dinner party. I had a chalk board and one of the guests came upstairs and wrote, “‘Smile always, Megan,’” on my chalkboard,” Megan said. “And I loved it.”
Those two words became the anchor that are getting the Andrews family through the pain and are inspiring others. Smile Always has inspired a movement for the family. A family friend designed t-shirts, hoping the message inspires others and becomes Megan’s legacy. The couple said they hope to invest the money raised to start a charity for children who have lost parents to cancer.
“I’ve never, ever, in our entire 13 years of marriage,” Joe said, “been more proud to be her husband, than now.”
Friends and family ask them, “‘How can you always smile as Megan dies?”
“It’s all about attitude,” Joe said.
“If you have an attitude of ‘I get to.’ I get to take care of my wife because she’s still here. I get to wake up every morning and get my kids ready for school because they are healthy kids that get to go to school. I get to go to work because I have a job.
“If you live a ‘I get to’ life and don’t have an ‘I have to” life, then you’re going to have a lot better time.”
For those struggling to see the good in tough times, a ‘get to’ mentality might change everything. And Smiling Always, could bring more healing than you may have ever imagined. The Andrews family has set up a GoFundMe page. You can also support their movement by purchasing a Smile Always t-shirt.