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Traverse City doctor overcomes cancer diagnosis with help from physical therapy

TRAVERSE CITY — A Traverse City doctor is sharing her journey of beating breast cancer and the role physical therapy played, in hopes of helping others facing a similar fight.

Dr. Megan Coggon loves helping others in her role as a pediatrician, but in May of 2022 she found herself the one needing medical advice.

“I was nursing my eight month old when I noticed a lump in my right breast. I thought at the time that it was just a side effect of nursing a clogged milk duct or, you know, the beginnings of mastitis, which I had had before. I thought little of it. And shortly thereafter, my milk supply went down drastically. And it turns out that my breast milk supply dried up because I had invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast,” said Coggon.


At just 33, Megan faced a life-changing diagnosis.

“Most breast cancers in general go straight to surgery and for me, I started chemotherapy. I had six rounds of chemo. And then they gave me a 4 to 6 week gap of kind of recovery time after my last dose of chemotherapy before I had a bilateral mastectomy on December 23rd of 2022. And then after my mastectomy, I had six weeks of recovery time and then I started a six week, 30 day radiation therapy,” explained Coggon.

All that treatment took a toll on Megan and her body, both emotionally and physically.

“For a while I was joking that I had little T-Rex arms because I couldn’t reach more than, you know, like kind of an elbows reach away. I couldn’t lift my children. You know, I had a weight limit that I could pick up,” explained Coggon.


Part of means recovery involved rounds of physical therapy with Mary Free Bed at the Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City, all under the watchful eye of physical therapist Kelley Nash.

“When I started seeing her, she was not working at all. She was feeling, you know, lack of endurance. She really was fatigued still from chemo. She was just feeling like she was super weak,” said Nash.

Megan slowly started regaining her strength with an aspect of cancer treatment many patients don’t think about when they first get the diagnosis.

“So we are treating post surgically. We’re treating scar tissue. So working on just getting the tissue moving again, working on getting the joints moving again,” explained Nash.


Now, nearly a year after her mastectomy, Megan is back to doing what she loves as a pediatrician and most importantly as a wife and mother.

“The biggest joy, I think, through this whole process was when I was able to finally lift my, you know, at that time, year and a half, one and a half year old, my 18 month old, and that when I just kind of swooped in and picked him up and it was like a reflex, but it was so that was a huge victory,” said Coggon.

And she has this message for those facing a similar journey:

“You can do this. You can get through it and the attitude is the biggest factor. I think studies have shown it, but I have lived it. And if you can have that, if you can keep that positive attitude and find that silver lining and the grace in this awful experience, that’s going to take you a long way,” said Coggon.

Coggon says she is now considered cancer free. She does still see her oncologist and has lab work every three months for the next few years.

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