The Supporter: Michelle Mekky
The founder of Mekky Media shares her story about how a surprise ovarian cancer diagnosis led her to start her own public relations firm.

As told to Britt Julious

I never found a way to prioritize my health.

Working 60-80 hour workweeks at a PR agency, I was running international campaigns and always prioritizing my job over everything. I always put off my annual exams, but one day I finally went, almost reluctantly. They finished and after an ultrasound, the doctor said, “It’s not a fibroid. You actually have a growth on your ovary.” I went back for a second ultrasound and that’s when everything changed. I found the head of the oncology department at [University of Chicago], who examined me and said, “You’re a young woman with a very large tumor and we need to remove it.”

I had the surgery, and after I woke up, I learned I had gotten a full hysterectomy and my tumor was cancerous. At that moment, I was faced with my own mortality. We didn’t know the prognosis, but two days later, my oncologist called and said, “I got the test back and out of 39 biopsies I did in your abdomen, every one is negative. You are completely clear and I’m gonna say you’re the earliest stage of ovarian cancer—stage I—which never happens.”

The nurses would say to me, “You are blessed. There is a reason [why] your life was spared.” I said to myself, “What can I do now with my life to change it and make it more meaningful?” But I returned to the crazy, busy lifestyle until I lost my job. That was the birth of Mekky Media.

I think in the beginning, it felt like I was jumping off a cliff with one broken wing. But I decided to just take the leap because I finally wanted to take my life into my own hands. It’s turned out to be the best decision I’ve made.

Our goal is to help businesses, small to large, and individuals tell stories and create strategies to yield them success. One of my very first clients was Susan G. Komen. I didn’t even believe I could take on a client like that starting out. It became so successful that nonprofits are now a big focus of who I represent. I have this burning desire now to help people and to give back.

There are definitely those days where I’m still working hard and late—I’m an entrepreneur. But the fact that I’ve faced cancer and beaten it and caught it early has shown me that nothing is permanent. It can come back at any time. That’s really what I live with now. That reminder gives me focus in my life.


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