Michelle: Survivor from Cancer to Katrina Part II

May 16, 2010 at 5:30 am 5 comments

Michelle’s Story. Part II of II: Last week I introduced you to my friend, Michelle, who even in the middle of her fight with Leukemia, never gave up hope of one day being a mom.

The strain put on Michelle’s body by the cancer while she awaited a bone marrow donor had caused her to lose her cycle. And once she had her transplant followed by chemotherapy and radiation, she would be rendered completely infertile. But, one year after her cycle had stopped, much to everyone’s surprise, Michelle inexplicably became pregnant.

Against her doctor’s advice, Michelle and her husband, Ryan O’Regan decided they wanted to continue with the pregnancy and delay a transplant even though the odds of carrying the baby full-term were very slim. And the chances that Michelle could die from the cancer if she delayed her transplant any further were very great. It was a chance Michelle was willing to take. She felt it was her destiny to be a mom; all her life she had prepared for this and the very deep maternal nature in her could not terminate her pregnancy. Even if it meant losing her life. Ryan, not easily convinced, eventually agreed to his bride’s heartfelt wish.

The doctors warned Michelle that to continue would mean 100% bed rest and daily blood transfusions. She would likely not survive the birth, if she even got that far. Her risk of infection from the Leukemia alone meant that the slightest scratch could send her to the hospital. She had already spent two weeks in the hospital as a result of a popcorn kernel stuck in her teeth. So precarious was her situation that even shaving and brushing her teeth were forbidden. She was not dissuaded from continuing with the pregnancy. Then, only two weeks after discovering she was pregnant, at just 16 weeks, Michelle miscarried. It would seem the pregnancy was never meant to be as soon after, a donor was found. Michelle’s transplant was scheduled immediately.

A few years later, after many hurdles had been cleared and the cancer was now behind them, the O’Regans began exploring their options to have the family they always wanted. With Michelle’s medical history, In vitro was immediately eliminated. They began hearing about “open” adoption. After much education, counseling and talking to both adoptees and adopters who were living it, the O’Regans decided open adoption was the way to go. They were concerned that a closed adoption would leave their child feeling “incomplete” or like something was missing, and they wanted to be sure their daughter felt “whole.”


Once Michelle and Ryan had been chosen by the prospective birth parents, the date was set for the two moms to meet: September 11th, 2001. While many people’s plans were canceled that day, rocked by the events that started to unfold that morning, Michelle and Janice chose to keep their plans amidst the chaos. The adoption process would not be held up by any catastrophe, no matter how great. They spent the entire day getting to know each other and twelve days later, the day the United States flag was finally raised from half-mast and the nation officially came out of mourning, Molly was born.

Janice and Eric, Molly’s birth parents continue to play an important role in her life. They have big family gatherings in California a couple times a year with Janice and her family, which really has just become an extension of the O’Regan’s own family. Molly has more grandparents and family to dote on her and spoil her than any kid could wish for.


Otherwise known as, “Hurricane Meggie,” the O’Regans adopted their second daughter through open adoption after Megan’s birth mom was almost lost in Hurricane Katrina. Rebecca, already the young mother of a toddler, was very pregnant and alone when the hurricane hit her home and sent her scrambling to the attic. She and her daughter spent two nights there before finally escaping to the roof where they were eventually found and evacuated to Houston. Like so many others, the O’Regans had also evacuated to Houston and were safe. Unbeknownst to the O’Regans, Rebecca had already chosen them to be her baby’s adoptive parents and their social worker, Danna had planned to call them with the news the day of the hurricane. But now, with everyone scattered to the wind, there was no way to reach them, or to even know if they or Rebecca were still alive.

Remarkably, Danna ended up at the same hotel as the O’Regans in Houston. They would bump into each other in the courtyard. But, with no way of knowing the whereabouts of Rebecca, Danna kept the news of the adoption to herself. Meanwhile, in another hotel in Houston, Rebecca was frantically calling the local Catholic Charities office, trying to find Michelle. Of the few possessions she had with her was the O’Regans profile album from the adoption agency.

Rebecca refused to give up on the O’Regans being her baby’s adoptive parents and continued to call Catholic Charities, never doubting that one day she would find them. Here’s where providence would again plays its’ hand: Danna began helping out at the Houston Catholic Charities office. Another social worker at the office, who knew Rebecca was looking for a family from New Orleans, had heard Danna was an evacuee and asked if she happened to know of the O’Regans. Danna was finally able to share the news with Michelle and Ryan that not only had they been chosen, but the birth mom was there in Houston looking for them. Their first meeting was a joyful one indeed.

In October, when everyone including Rebecca and the O’Regans were finally returning home to Louisiana to much clean-up and repairs, or no home at all, Megan was born. Their story made the local news and “Hurricane Meggie” was featured on TV and in the Times Picayune.

Rebecca has lost touch with the O’Regans, perhaps carrying some guilt about giving up a child after already being a mother. Janice, however, has taken on the role of Meggie’s birth mom, and her family has fully adopted Meggie as their own. Both girls are a very special gift of providence to Michelle, Ryan and their families and they will forever be surrounded with love.

Michelle is a frequent speaker for Catholic Charities on adoption and says she has loved both her girls since before they took their first breath.


Entry filed under: Amazing Moms, Cancer. Tags: , , , , , , .

Amazing Mom – Michelle: Survivor from Cancer to Katrina Hey! Where’d my blog go? And more important matters.

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alisa  |  May 16, 2010 at 7:56 am

    That indomitable will God’s given us will get ya every time! Beautiful life. Wonderful inspiration. Thank you, both, for sharing!

  • 2. Lori Lavender Luz  |  May 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Thank you for telling these amazing stories! Beautiful family.

  • 3. ANGELA CHATELAIN  |  May 18, 2010 at 9:20 am

    that is great that michelle and ryan are able to have a family, michelle you truly are a remarkable woman….

  • 4. Mama Bird  |  May 18, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    We are blessed to have the O’Regans in our lives. They are very giving, beautiful people. And our daughter loves Meggie and Molly!

  • 5. utari  |  July 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    so happy family. your daughters so cute.
    your post so inspiring.thanks.


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A half-hatched role-reversal takes flight on a wing and a prayer.

Life is a misadventure mixed with mayhem.





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