Two years ago our friend Megan Pischke was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ironically, for many years leading up to her diagnosis, the former pro snowboarder and mother of two had been an integral part of Boarding for Breast Cancer as well as producing ReTreat Yourself, a series of snowboarding and surfing retreats for young women with breast cancer.
“Oh my God,” she exclaims. “Was I just preparing myself the last ten years?”
Today she is cancer free and telling her story with Chasing Sunshine, a short documentary chronicling the process of her treatment and ultimate recovery from the disease which affects more than 200,000 women annually. Set to premiere during the X Games in Aspen this Wednesday night, in her own words Megs tells Snowboard Mag about her Unexpected Journey.
A couple of years ago things just weren’t feeling right. Something was happening in me to where I didn’t feel like myself. I just had my second child and thought, “hormones, thyroid…”, I didn’t know. I just knew that something was off. Then I noticed that a lump I had on my breast for a very long time had gotten quite a bit bigger, so I had it checked out and there it was — the diagnosis, stage 3 breast cancer. As much shock as I was in and all the horrible, scary feelings, there was also a little bit of a relief — like I finally knew what I was happening. I know that sounds crazy but at least I knew what I had to work with. Now what can I do?!
So I set out and saw all of my doctors and friends who might have anything to offer —western doctors, acupuncturists, my chiropractor — everyone who knew me and my body. I asked their opinions and was directed towards a naturopath oncologist. This guy was a total game changer because up until that point all of the testing that had been done… honestly, it didn’t look really good. This was stage 3 breast cancer and I was categorized a statistic — a statistic that didn’t look very good. So what the fuck! I said, “I’m not a statistic!” Meeting up with this guy changed everything. He sat me down and essentially expressed the same concerns as everyone else but the first thing he told me was that before any kind of treatment, before anything, the first thing I needed to do was tell myself that I was going to get through this and that I was never going to look back. I just about leaped out of my chair. I found the person whose treatment matched my intentions! It was like that one thing I needed to push me over the edge and give me the whole hearted confidence to set me on the path to getting better. I really believe that more than anything, this process was about focusing my mind on my intentions and not letting anything get in my way. If it’s all about miracles, so be it. If it’s all about the surgery working, great! I was just going to ask for the world, my life, through my focused intentions.
At the same time other doctors were telling me to do this, do chemo, do surgery, do that, ya know. So it took a little time to figure out the plan. All in all I came to agreement with what I wanted to do with my treatment. Then me and my husband David (Megan is married to pro snowboarder DCP) looked at our finances and realized that we didn’t have the money.
A lot of this wasn’t provided by our insurance — it was all out of pocket. After that I started to stress but that’s when David said, “Don’t worry about it.” And he started to plan this fundraiser in Whistler. The whole fundraiser was magical and it’s very emotional for me to even talk about how the whole industry and all of my friends that I love and respect came together for this and helped me out. It was just so awesome. It gave me the reassurance that the path I was on was the right one and made me feel so loved.
Three days later Joe died in an avalanche. (Joe Timlin along with four others were tragically killed in an freak avalanche near Loveland Pass in Colorado in the spring of 2013.)
My world completely collapsed. Everything changed. All of a sudden I was faced with death — the death of my sisters husband, one of our family. Even with this diagnosis I had never really, honestly faced up to death and here it was front and center. My thing was that I was young, healthy, I had two young children… there was no way I could die. But then I looked at Joe and he was young, successful, kind, giving and loving. He was an incredible human who only every wanted to help others, and he still died. I started to look at things different. It was a part of the process that I could have never imagined. With this, I discovered that I still had a lot of work to do.