Meghan Witter is no stranger to hospitals. She’s usually seen in the Emergency Room, floating to the Intensive Care Unit, serving as a House Supervisor, and stepping in to help patients, wherever needed. Witter has been a Registered Nurse at Ascension All Saints for over 20 years.
Witter became inspired to join the profession after dealing with a cancer diagnosis when she was 20 years old. At the time, the Racine native was living in Los Angeles, California and was working in construction.
From Patient to Nurse
She says, “the only person I knew out there was my dad. I knew nothing about healthcare. I had a lump in my neck that was growing quickly. It was a scary and overwhelming time.”
After multiple diagnoses and being overwhelmed by the growth, she was finally diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. According to the Mayo Clinic, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. Witter began outpatient radiation treatments to treat the disease. During her treatment, she met a nurse who changed her life for the better.
“I had a nurse who was kind, gentle, and hopeful. I wanted to be just like her. She would hold my hand and tell me it’s ok. I wanted to be that person for someone else one day. That is what I’m still about,” says Witter.
Witter eventually returned to Racine. She obtained an Associate’s degree focused in Registered Nursing from Gateway Technical College. She says, “God gave me cancer when I was 20 to find my calling. I truly believe that. It’s unfortunate he is doing it again but he is.”
The Fight Continues
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Witter has been on the frontlines in Racine. However, just a few short weeks into the new year and a new diagnosis has presented in her life.
As of Jan. 13, 2022, Witter is putting a pause on fighting COVID-19 and serving in her role as a nurse. She has her own fight to battle now: Stage 4 Mantel Cell Lymphoma, an uncommon type of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). Mantle Cell Lymphoma is an aggressive and rare form of cancer that arises from cells originating in the “mantle zone” and counts for roughly six percent of all NHL cases in the United States, according to the Lymphoma Research Society.
She says, “I was attempting to work what I could while mentally trying to cope with being given a new diagnosis of cancer yet again. COVID changed that sadly. The new surge has taken over. I cannot afford to get sick prior to starting treatment which could be any day now.”
Rare Diangosis Reveals Itself
Until Witter can get back to her passion, she must treat this rare form of cancer. She will be enrolled in a clinical trial at The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin saying, “it’s my best bet.”
Witter explains that the cancer was found during a colonoscopy. She has had no symptoms of the disease and was shocked by the diagnosis.
Not Alone in her Fight
Witter knows what it’s like to be the patient and to be the nurse. She says, “I am that nurse that will hold your hand, spend time with you, tell you it will be ok, and remain hopeful for you. I will let you cry when you need to and give you a hug when I embrace you with a warm blanket.”
While she is the one diagnosed, she isn’t alone in her fight. Witter is a mother, friend, daughter, and co-worker to many. She says, “I will have a battle on my hands – a battle fought with the most powerful support group I think one could ever have. Your support group can lift you up with words and actions, carrying you in ways I think you can only truly understand if you have ever felt in despair and grief.”
Despite the troubling circumstances, Witter has a unique perspective and embraces what she has versus what she doesn’t have. She’s confident that she will beat cancer for the second time.
Support System Sells Shirts
A fellow nurse, Amanda Nikolai, has organized a Go-Fund-Me fundraiser to help support Witter. As of Jan. 13, $7,690 has been raised. There is a $50,000 goal that will help offset the costs that will come Witter’s way. Donations can be made online.
“It’s not about the money. It’s only about support and love,” says Witter.
In addition, there is an apparel fundraiser taking place online until February 18, 2022. Proceeds from the sales will go directly to her. Purchase your “Team Meghan” shirt online and wear it to proudly support her.
Even during times of uncertainty, Witter is showcasing strength. She comments, “I am very fortunate with all the love I have felt from my support team. I am telling my story because I want people to support anyone they know in times of trouble by reaching out and lending an ear or a shoulder and telling them you’re rooting for them. Never give up!”
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