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Conversations with Megan Yaeger

Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan Yaeger.

Megan, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I’ve always struggled with my health. But at the age of 14 good old puberty Walked hand in hand with a complete health spiral. With each year my health gets worse. I spent years trying to hide my illness (no one wants to be the weird sick kid) but I desperately wanted to reach out and find people in my situation.

So, around the age of 17, my childhood best friend convinced me to start a Facebook page where I could share my story of chronic illness.

I didn’t want anyone to know it was me, so I wrote under the pseudonym “Smile Magee “. (a nickname a friend gave me in middle school). In the hopes that no one would ever discover that it was me.

(Oh, how times have changed, lol).

Now, I pride myself on sharing my story, letting others know they aren’t alone, that God loves them, and that a life full of pain and illness can still be a beautiful life.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When I was a kid, I thought EVERYONE was in pain, and no one wanted to be a wimp and complain about it. In 2nd grade, when I learned that wasn’t the case, my world was absolutely rocked. I spent YEARS trying to hide the fact that I was “different “than everyone else.

Then as my health continued to decline.

That secret became impossible to hide. As parts of my health declined. I felt as though I lost parts of myself. Lost my ability to do ballet (a passion of mine). Due to pain. Losing the ability to be in the choir (due to pain and progression of lung disease). Losing half the vision in my right eye. Losing a nice chunk of the flesh on my ribcage due to a rare soft tissue sarcoma.

And for 3 years completely lost the ability to eat, leaving me in the hospital every 3 days for IV nutrition, which caused me to miss half of my junior, and all of my senior year of high school, spending 7 weeks at the Mayo Clinic, finding no answers and ultimately being told to “enjoy what life and quality of life I have left.” My life can be seen as a string of constant challenges.

But it is those challenges that have shaped me into who I am today, sadly you don’t know what a gift full vision, digestion, education, and the ability to breathe without oxygen. The ability to walk without pain and so many other things we take for granted on a daily basis are. until you lose them.

It is truly my “dances with death “that have made me appreciate life.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Due to health, I haven’t been able to pursue ´my education (no matter how much I would LOVE to. I’m one of those nerds who LOVE schooling). But I like to tell people I’m working on my doctorate at “The School of Hard Knocks “.

But I’ve learned education is so much more than a classroom and a piece of paper, but is something we should pursue our whole life. Through my social media “The Life of Me Smile Magee “.

I’ve had experiences doing freelance writing for “The Mighty.com“, multiple interview opportunities, I was nominated for a worldwide patient advocacy award, and I have been able to connect with some of the most AMAZING individuals you will ever meet.

I have also found a passion for photography, particularly nature/wildlife photography, and am lucky enough to share photos on Instagram and Facebook (Megan Marjorie Photography). Share prints with friends and family, and one of my prints is currently in the “world of the wild” traveling art show with the Hogle Zoo.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
Growing up, I was a raging extrovert (heck I still am). Able to talk to anyone and everyone. I was the type of kid who would stand at the table at the cafeteria and announce to everyone that it was someone’s birthday, and get the entire lunchroom to sing to them.

I was lucky enough to have a very supportive family who taught me I could do anything. I just had to learn how to do it “The Megan way “. So, I constantly learned how to adapt my situations to fit my abilities.

And to be completely honest, I lied about my health , until the only teacher I had ever trusted with the truth about my illness told my secret to my classmates when I was 15. So, I learned to be quick-witted, and quick on my feet (metaphorically) so no one would ever guess I was ill.

I began singing lessons at the age of 5 and singing has since then been a big part of my life when I found musical theater I absolutely fell in love. One of the toughest days of my life was my senior year when I had to quit the play because I was too sick to continue going to school.

I’ve always gravitated towards the arts, and I’ve always loved being around people. But I never truly shared my love of writing because I was afraid it was “too nerdy.”

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1 Comment

  1. Ilene

    May 13, 2022 at 5:42 am

    You are an amazing woman and an inspiration to me!

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