Megan McNeil was just 20 years old when she died on January 28, 2011, surrounded by family and friends. She had been battling Adrenalcortical Carcinoma, a type of Adrenal cancer, since she was 16. She was born and raised in the Vancouver area, where her father David works in the technology industry and her mother Suzanne is a nutritionist. McNeil was an only child.
In 2006, sports injury sustained during a high-school track and field event ultimately lead doctors to discover the cancer and start a very aggressive course of action to counter the stage four tumour they discovered in her abdomen. In total, she had beaten cancer three times, but she succumbed during her fourth battle.
McNeil graduated from Seaquam Secondary in 2008, and attended Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey for sciences.
Her story touched tens of millions of people across North America who got to know her through the dozens of media appearances she did to promote childhood cancer awareness and her two select charities: BCCCPA and The James Fund. She was even featured in media as far away as England and Russia.
Canada AM named her story one of the best of 2010 and CBC’s Connect with Mark Kelley named her story as the most inspirational story of the year.
McNeil wrote “The Will to Survive” as a tribute to all the other cancer-fighting children, some of whom she met in chemo wards and hospital hallways during treatment. She was introduced to Garth Richardson who was immediately captivated by the song, coming on board to produce.
McNeil always made time to comfort other childhood cancer families in their time of trial and sorrow.
By the age of 20, she had accomplished more than many do in 80 years. She was smart, she was humble, she was fun.
She was our Megs. And the sun shone a little brighter whenever she was near. She will be missed by all who knew her, and remembered by so many who took hope from the gift of her song.
“Here’s to the fight
Here’s to the fighters
Here’s to the brave that take this on
Here’s to the lost souls
Here’s to the new hope
But it won’t be easy Megan. We’ll miss you every step of the way.