Prayers, support of the community extends across the miles

by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor

When Donald and Julie McLennan of Rogers City found out their oldest daughter Logan had breast cancer, their initial emotions ranged from anger to denial.

Logan McLennan Garrett, a devoted mother with three young children, is only 33 years old.

“It’s the wrong generation,” thought her father Donald, who ran uncontested for Presque Isle County Probate Judge last November. Julie is a first-grade teacher at Posen Consolidated School.

Logan is a member of the Rogers City High School Class of 1998 and lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is an academic advisor at the University of Georgia.

Logan (McLennan) Garrett said the raising of her three children has been a pleasant distraction from her chemotherapy treatments and battle with cancer.

The distance between the towns has not lessened the concerns of caring Rogers City residents. Her name was honored on the back of a T-shirt being sold to raise money for the Tom Radka fund at Rogers City Area Schools.

The former school employee lost his battle with cancer. The purple T-shirts were worn during Monday’s girls’ basketball game at the high school. Money goes to help needy students in the district and brings awareness.

The “awareness message” in Logan’s situation is: younger women need to be checked. The common age to start checking for breast tumors had been 40 and older.

Logan was a strong, healthy mother, who had not had an exam. She was well below the minimum age.

Logan had been breast-feeding her 5-month-old daughter, Jolie, when she noticed “a hardness in one of her breasts, but she thought one of her milk ducts were clogged,” said Julie.

A doctor checked it during a regular visit, but a couple of weeks later it still didn’t seem right and a biopsy was ordered.

Logan received the results of the biopsy Dec. 4, 2012. It was her 33rd birthday and she was on the playground with her children. She had a 5-centimeter tumor in her breast.

“The shattering news of cancer hit our family (and extended) quite hard,” she stated on her Carepages site, Dec. 20, 2012.

The doctor asked, “Is this a good time to talk about your biopsy results?”

“Is there ever a good time to chat on the phone with three little kids underfoot?” she stated, handing them a large bag of M & M’s and yelling to them about their proximity to the road.

“Are you sure you can talk?” the doctor asked.

“I can talk. I can listen,” Logan wrote. “I can start reorganizing my brain for the coming afternoon, weeks, and months while you explain my diagnosis. I am a mom and I’ll just have to adjust!

“I hope to never feel the intense fear and dread I had those next 20 hours ever again. Is the cancer all over my body? Will my children be motherless? What are we going to do?”

She went in for an ultrasound the following day, which revealed no additional masses or problem areas. “The results felt like the best day ever of my cancer life!”

Her family moved forward by weaning Jolie from breast feeding and canceling a Christmas trip to Rogers City. They spend eight to 12 weeks of the year in Michigan.

Here, plans changed too. Donald and Julie would be going south for the holidays to provide love and support. Her in-laws traveled from Missouri to be there as well.

Two days after Christmas, Logan went to her first chemo treatment with her father as her chaperone. The treatments will continue until May when surgery will be conducted.

“It is remarkably smaller,” she said during a telephone interview Sunday night.

In the meantime, Logan has tried to provide some kind of normalcy to her children. She calls it her parallel universe.

“We still eat cake and read books,” she said.

Family and friends have wrapped long-distance arms around the Garretts and made their lives a little easier.

“Every day I get ‘get-well’ cards from people,” said Logan. That includes Posen elementary students in Julie’s class. “When I hear things from Rogers City, it just reminds me how much people care.”

The Garretts also receive support from members of the Athens community with daily meals.

She continues to receive the strongest form of chemotherapy to battle this very aggressive form of cancer. “It’s treatable,” said Logan. “It’s shrinking right now. The hope is that the tumor can be removed and they don’t have to go into my lymph system.” Then, she will be checked every three to six months.

“The best thing for me is having three kids and a young family, makes it very distracting,” said Logan. “You can’t dwell on things that are happening to you so much. I thought our lives would change a lot, but they haven’t.”

Logan continues to work from home. The Michigan State University graduate taught math at Lansing Eastern High School for eight years. She also coached varsity volleyball and golf. They moved to Athens when her husband accepted a job at the University of Georgia as an assistant professor.

“I don’t know why I have breast cancer. Maybe someday I’ll find out,” she stated during a Feb. 5 update. “Maybe someday I’ll find out. For now I’ll fight it, I’ll hate it, I’ll will it out of me for as long as it will stay away.”

That’s why her Carepages page is so appropriately titled, “gologango.”

(As appeared in the Feb. 21, 2013 of the Presque Isle County Advance)