After brain cancer diagnosis, college student completes school in hospital. She's now cancer free

Megan Ritz held her fingers in front of her face, creating an ovate shape with her index fingers and her thumb.

"I think they ended up saying my tumor was about that big," she said. There's about three inches of space separating her fingers. 

The tumor was in her brain. Doctors diagnosed Ritz with brain cancer in 2017. She was a teenager. Before doctors knew, before they tested what was wrong, she remembers the symptoms being problematic and pervasive.

"The headaches, the dizziness, the trouble with my balance. I was also vomiting," she said.

Multiple doctors blamed her problems on a myriad of issues - vertigo, migraines, ear issues. 

"My doctor was like 'wait, has anyone gotten a brain scan on you?' and I was like 'no,'" she recalls. "So she says, 'just in case, I just want to do it; and I got a phone call the next day and they're like 'you have a brain tumor in the fourth ventricle of your brain.'"

And she's got the scar to prove it too. Beginning above the halfway point of her head, a scar trails down onto her neck.

The next year would be spent at Beaumont's Proton Therapy Center, where she was inundated with radiation, chemotherapy and several other surgeries. Despite the laundry list of hurdles that accompany cancer, the ambitious student refused the recommended year off from college.

Instead she attended school, getting help from a teacher at the Beaumont Children's Hospital - an education liaison offered through the Children's Miracle Network.

"I did everything online because I couldn't go in because college is germy," she said. "I took finals in the hospital."

And then, she beat it. And she's all moved into a dorm at Oakland University. Despite the small space she now inhabits, the coziness of her new living space is a welcome relief. Ritz has had enough alone time.

"You kinda feel isolated especially when you're going through that because there are certain days where 'I would just be careful with what you would do,'" she said. "All my coats have hand sanitizer in the pocket."

Before Ritz was diagnosed, she was in the pre-med field. Now she's pursuing profession in medicine even more. But before locking herself away to her studies, she's planning on embracing the other part of college - being a kid.

"I'm so excited to live here. I'm so excited to work here. I work in the recreation center," she said "I'm so excited to start classes again and actually feel like a normal 20-year-old girl." 

Ritz's doctors say there is no evidence of disease. She still takes medication and gets monthly tranfusions. But that scar will fade, hair will grow over it and she said she feels great.