Ohio State synchronized swimmer Meghan Kinney didn’t think it was serious when she experienced pain in her knee. Doctors told her otherwise.
“I had been training on national team in California for six months and I noticed this pain in my knee,” Kinney said. “I was expecting to hear maybe I needed surgery … instead they sat me down and told me they found a tumor.”
Osteosarcoma, or cancer of the bone, was causing the knee pain that Kinney had believed to be nothing more than a tear in her meniscus.
“I felt like my life was in jeopardy,” Kinney said.
Kinney was diagnosed Oct. 5 and left the synchronized swimming team to recover from her chemotherapy treatments and the surgery to remove the tumor in her knee.
“It was complete shock. It was one of those moments they always say, ‘You never thought this could happen to you,’ it was exactly like that,” Kinney said. “I just felt right away nothing else mattered.”
Doctors removed the tumor from her knee, and followed up with full body scans to make sure there were no other tumors. They did not find any.
After the removal, Kinney has no cancer in her body, but is going through extensive chemotherapy to make sure the cancer never comes back.
“The only cancerous tumor they found was in my knee,” Kinney said. “I am getting eight more months of chemo to prevent anything in the future, because if it came about in the first place it could come back in a while.”
When word got around to other OSU athletes, the rowing team took charge to help raise money for her. The effort became known as Team Meghan and has been a collective effort of multiple teams across campus to raise money for Kinney.
“I think it’s just really cool to see the Buckeye family, especially in athletics, just coming together to support one of their fellow Buckeyes,” said Monica Finnigan, a senior synchronized swimmer. “Some people don’t even know Meghan. Nobody on the rowing team knew Meghan before they started this fundraiser.”
Those involved in the effort, which has been going on for nearly two months, set the goal to raise $10,000. The money will be used to help Kinney with medical expenses throughout her fight with osteosarcoma.
“I want to do this,” said freshman synchronized swimmer Julia Gaylard. “It’s not something that we just needed a few people to do this. I want to help her family and help her because she’s a Buckeye and one of us.”
Team Meghan has raised nearly $4,500 for Kinney from selling wristbands, including $1,925 that was raised during the men’s hockey games on Feb. 18 and 19.
The wristbands, which are teal and have “Support TeamMeghan.com” written on them, have no set price. Whatever the amount of the donation, the supporter receives a wristband in return.
“We can talk about how Buckeyes are there for each other, but it’s happening. It’s so powerful to see. And the other teams have been huge in helping. It’s so meaningful,” said Katherine Greene, a junior synchronized swimmer. “It’s been so incredible to see that.”
Kinney’s teammates said she has impacted the team and holds a place in their hearts, and helping to raise money and support her in her fight with cancer was something that they were more than happy to do.
“Meghan is so dear to my heart, that I wouldn’t do this for just anybody. The fact that she is such a close friend, I feel very privileged to be able to help her,” Greene said. “I just feel so happy to do this for her. I really feel so blessed.”
Other teams involved in Team Meghan, whether through donating money or volunteering time, are fencing, men’s swimming and diving, men’s hockey, men’s track, women’s volleyball and men’s golf.
Kinney said she is grateful that so many people, most of whom did not know her before Team Meghan, are willing to help her.
“It means the world to me,” Kinney said. “The rowing team started selling these bands, before I knew it the whole team was involved in this fundraising effort for me.”
Kinney said the hardest part for her has been not having control in her own life because of the cancer.
“I feel like something’s been taken away from me,” she said.
Kinney has hopes to return to the pool when she recovers from the surgery, which also included a knee replacement, and her treatment.
“Swimming, it’s my passion, it’s my second home, being in the water,” Kinney said. “As soon as I can I’ll be back in the water.”