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Working mom determined to beat cancer

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Posted at 10:33 PM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 22:33:25-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Just after midnight, Megan Mendez goes about her rounds at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. 

But she's not just a nurse. 

"I've been a patient so I know how nervous or scared they probably are," Mendez said. 

Megan has fought to get where she is. At 21, while in nursing school, she felt a lump in her breast. Doctors confirmed her unsuspecting fear. 

"I was mad, depressed. You know, I kept asking 'Why me, why me? What did I do to deserve this?'" she said. 

While doctors say it is rare for women under the age of 30 to get breast cancer, Megan is evidence that all women, regardless of age, are at risk for the disease. 

Determined to live for her daughter, husband and family, Megan underwent two years of treatment, multiple surgeries and countless doctor visits before she was cancer free. 

"We really thought we're going to go through this, it's going to be done, and we'll all go back to normal," Megan's mom, Margaret Pery said. 

"And then I got diagnosed," Mendez said. 

The cancer not only returned, it spread. 

Doctors removed both of Megan's breasts and ovaries to prevent further complications. At 26, she has lost much of what makes her a woman, but Megan has vowed to not let her illness define her.

Instead, she uses it as a tool, to better treat others. 

"A lot of them are in shock and can't believe it, like 'What? You're going through chemo, you're a cancer patient?'" Mendez said. 

She receives chemo every three weeks.

She does this, all while being a mother, wife, daughter and full-time nurse. It can make her weak, sometimes very sick, and there is no end in sight. 

Doctors have told Megan she will need to get chemo as long as she's living. 

"It's not going to beat me. It hasn't beat me," she said. 

It's not what she had imagined for her life five years ago, but Megan says cancer has made her a better person. 

"If I wouldn't have went through it, where would I be?"

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