Leader of the Pack

Fischer on a training hike for her second Make-A-Wish Colorado Trailblaze Challenge.

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

While at CSU, Megan Fischer (B.A., ’16) completed the requirements for three majors   ̶  international studies, journalism, and French. She also was a reporter and photographer for the Rocky Mountain Collegian and worked as a cultural mentor for international students on campus. In what may rank as her most understated comment ever, she says, “I like to keep myself busy.”

Fischer atop a mountain
“Whoever said winning isn’t everything, never had to fight cancer.”

Following graduation, Fischer accepted a position at two Wyoming newspapers in towns forty miles apart. She was crime reporter and features writer in Gillette and reporter and photographer in Wright.  The following year, she accepted a position as email and SMS marketing specialist at Madwire, a Fort Collins digital marketing company.

To appreciate fully this amazing young woman, one needs to go back to 2001, when a diminutive six-year-old developed a facial palsy. Doctors removed a tumor the size of a fist from her brain stem. She endured four surgeries in 15 days, followed by 11 months of chemotherapy. The surgeries destroyed her balance, requiring her to retrain herself to walk.

After she finished treatments, the Make A Wish Foundation sent Fischer and her family on a “wish trip” to Disney World. She describes it as “the trip of a lifetime” and “the start of a new chapter” for herself, her parents, and younger brother. “We started making good memories after a period of terrible and unimaginable ones.”

This August she completed her second Make-A-Wish Colorado Trailblaze Challenge hike to raise funds for Make-A-Wish Colorado. She was not the fastest but certainly was among the most determined hikers on the 23.7 miles at high altitude. This followed a 14-week training regime during which she exemplified the Trailblaze Challenge mantra: “It’s not a race. It’s a journey.”

Fischer demonstrating signing
Fischer, second from the left, signing with fellow counselors to a Garth Brooks song at the Sky High Hope Camp.

The impact of that early period of Fischer’s life drives her to personal excellence and to helping children with cancer. When she was young, she attended Sky High Hope Camp for childhood cancer patients. According to a camp counselor at the time, on the last day of camp Fischer informed her, “One day I am going to run this camp!” Since her late teens, Fischer has been a Sky High Hope Camp counselor. Among her other duties at the camp, she helps create a video of campers’ experiences, which they show on the last day. In Fischer’s usual full-steam-ahead fashion, she and two others stayed up all night to finish this year’s video.

“Three years of my life involved cancer,” Fischer explains. “Why should I let that dictate everything else I do? I want to empower children with cancer to get beyond that and convince them they can do great things.” This tiny dynamo walks that walk. She is a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo, which she began as a child to help regain her balance.

She also volunteers with Ram Strength, an organization devoted to “fighting cancer in Ram Country”; it helps support Sky High Hope Camp. Fischer summed up her own path when she told a CBS reporter: “You don’t have to be at the front of the pack to be a leader!”