Community helps child fight brain cancer
Megan Burns' medical equipment, medicine and hospital bed fill the small sunroom of the apartment that's become her temporary home.
The 10-year-old had been hospitalized and battling brain cancer since October, and she was released from MUSC Children's Hospital over the weekend.
She couldn't return to her family's trailer because it wasn't big or safe enough, and generous donors furnished and paid for the interim arrangement.
A "Mission for Megan" fund was set up, and it totaled about $1,900 last week.
The Post and Courier featured an article about Megan in Friday's edition, and other media picked up the story. The fund had grown to more than $11,100 by late Tuesday afternoon.
"I just about fell down, I was so excited," Christy Crawford, a close family friend and teacher at Megan's school, said shortly after checking the account. "It's a testament to the type of community we live in."
Megan's family doesn't have a place to go after May, and their supporters hope to raise the estimated $30,000 needed for a new trailer. Most of Megan's hospital bills are being covered by Medicaid.
Crawford said the school's phone rang constantly last week with readers wanting to know how they could help. One man volunteered to install the power lines and meter box the new trailer would need. Others volunteered to host fundraisers.
Those efforts continued through the weekend. One church took up a collection for Megan. Children held a bake sale benefitting the Mission for Megan fund that raised $470. Other kids made and sold bracelets to collect $530.
And a group of middle school girls who are having a joint birthday party asked that any money for gifts instead be donated to Megan.
"Everyone is scrambling so we can get this money and buy a trailer," Crawford said.
Megan's mother, Irene, is grateful for the support, but she's had few free moments to reflect on anything since Megan's hospital release.
Megan needs a feeding tube and constant monitoring, and it's up to Irene to remember her medications and schedules.
That's on top of trying to organize their temporary home and welcome well-wishers.
"Oh my goodness, it's been nonstop," Irene said.
Just as noticeable as the medical supplies surrounding Megan is the SpongeBob paraphernalia, Megan's favorite cartoon character. She turned 10 on Sunday, the day after her hospital release, and many brought SpongeBob-themed gifts.
A standing-room-only crowd showed up for her birthday party, and helium balloons, streamers, cake and a school-made "Happy Birthday" banner still were on display Monday.
Megan emphatically nodded her head when asked whether she had a good birthday, and she smiled when the conversation turned to the footrace with her aunt she plans to win when she can walk again.
Megan has made many attempts to leave her bed since she's been out of the hospital, but she's not physically able to do what her mind wants.
Her eyes and cheeks squinched into a painful expression of frustration as she cried because she still can't swallow.
Irene stood up, put her face near her daughter's and asked her to open her eyes.
"You've made great progress, baby," she said. "We're going to get through this together."
Megan and her family need a new home. The Belle Hall Elementary community set up an account to collect money for the estimated $30,000 needed. Donations can be made at any First Federal branch in the name of "Mission for Megan."
Belle Hall Elementary will host a yard sale at 8 a.m. March 24 in its parking lot. The school's families will donate the items, and all proceeds will benefit the Mission for Megan fund.
A fundraiser for Megan is planned for March 17 at Planter's Pointe Clubhouse, 2801 Planters Pointe Blvd. in Mount Pleasant from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will include jump castles, pony rides and a dunking booth.
Hamlin Helping Hands will host April 15 a Taste of Hamlin to benefit Megan. The event will have live music and cuisine from local chefs.
Anyone with questions can call Belle Hall's office, 849-2841.