Cancer free: WKU student has fought, won the battle

Bowling Green junior Morgan McWhorter recently won her battle with cancer. McWhorter, a member of Kappa Delta sorority, said support from her sorority sisters, her family and her boyfriend were the main reason she was able to get through the harsh reality of being diagnosed. Matt Lunsford/HERALD

Brittiny Moore

For the first two years of college, Morgan McWhorter worried about how to balance a hectic lifestyle, but after receiving unsettling news this past summer, she had other worries on her mind.

In July of 2015, McWhorter, a junior from Bowling Green, was diagnosed with cancer. She noticed odd tendencies occurring with her right arm for more than a year before she was diagnosed.

“It started out as random pain,” McWhorter said. “I remember vaguely standing in my boss’s office and [the pain] would shoot all the way to my hand and I would drop stuff.”

McWhorter was a dancer for a long time, so she was accustomed to everyday pains and aches, but eventually the pain reached a point where it was no longer tolerable.

“After a while, it got to the point where anytime you would touch my arm, it felt like knives stabbing into my arm,” she said. 

McWhorter was first diagnosed with tendinitis and tried a series of medical alternatives such as physical therapy, dry needle therapy and plasma injections.

After trying multiple medical techniques, McWhorter was sent to have an ultrasound and then an MRI.

McWhorter said after her MRI was inspected, she received verification that a benign sheath tumor was wrapped around her nerves.

“At first I was just in shock. It was like, there’s no way this is happening,” McWhorter said. “I just turned 21, and this is supposed to be the prime time in my life, and this is happening. I was upset and angry.”

McWhorter was sent to a doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for the tumor’s removal. Until this surgery, examiners had concluded the tumor was benign.

“The tumor was supposed to be hard, but when [the surgeon] got in there, it was like jelly,” McWhorter said. “That’s when he knew something was not right.”

The tumor was in fact cancerous; luckily, it had not yet spread and was caught in its early stages.

McWhorter’s surgery was followed by intense radiation treatments. She was treated five days a week for five weeks and then underwent another surgery meant to extract nerves, muscles and tendons to prevent the tumor from spreading.

McWhorter currently has limited use of her right hand, and it will not be fully functional until a reconstructive surgery in three to six months.

McWhorter’s tumor was gone after the radiation treatments. On Oct. 30, she announced happily that she was cancer-free.

“It could be a lot worse,” McWhorter said. “It made it a lot easier than just sitting around and being upset all the time.”

The hardest part of the experience, McWhorter said, was watching everyone else go through the process with her. Seeing her family and friends upset hurt her heart.

“I tried not to be upset for her,” her mother June McWhorter said.

Despite the hard feelings, Morgan McWhorter expressed gratitude for the support she received from her Kappa Delta sorority sisters, her family and her boyfriend.

“It’s a good feeling to know how much you are loved and cared about,” McWhorter said.

“It makes me want to go out and be a better person, to make a difference and do what I can to help people.”

McWhorter’s boyfriend Trevor Hawkins, a sophomore from Bowling Green, has worked with his fraternity Kappa Alpha Order to set up a raffle fundraiser for McWhorter to raise money for surgeries and doctors’ visits. The fundraiser also included a dinner and silent auction that took place Nov. 10.

“I wanted a fundraiser for her to give her some peace of mind financially,” Hawkins said. “Her parents have been great to me for the year and a half we’ve been together, and I wanted to give back.”

Hawkins also mentioned that his efforts has raised over $2,000 thus far.

McWhorter has also received great support from WKU staff and faculty. Because she had to take a semester off school, McWhorter has been taken off the track to graduate early. However, by working with her advisor, she is set to graduate within four years from WKU’s paralegal program.

After graduation, McWhorter hopes to attend law school at Belmont University in Nashville.

Even though some people would attribute having cancer to a bad life experience, McWhorter believes she received more good from the experience. McWhorter said her cancer has helped restore her faith.

“I’ve become so much more positive and thankful for everything I have,” McWhorter said. “I try to make the best of every day.”