Megan Young was an equine veterinary surgeon practising in Kent. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and died four months later aged 32 of a form of cancer that doctors were unable to diagnose and is therefore extremely difficult to treat. It is known as Cancer of Unknown Primary – CUP for short.
Megan was brought up in Cambridge and was a pupil at the Perse School for Girls (now known as the Stephen Perse Foundation). She studied veterinary medicine at Edinburgh University vet school and qualified as a vet in 2001. After working for a general practice in Faversham, Kent she set up her own equine veterinary practice in nearby Herne. It was here that she met her husband Toby. They married in 2004 and in 2008 Megan gave birth to a baby boy.
Throughout her life, from childhood on, Megan displayed an enormous empathy with the natural world and with all the living creatures in it. Her personal passion though was horses. She started to learn to ride when she was four years old and became the proud owner of her first pony when she was nine.
At Edinburgh University she became the President of the Royal Dick Vet Exmoor Pony Society. It was while she was a student there that she bought Mac, an unbroken Exmoor stallion, who stayed with her throughout her life and died of old age in 2013. Her equine entourage grew to include Lochan, her thoroughbred eventer, Ochre, her Cleveland Bay mare, and many others.
Her love of horses and the natural world is reflected in the poetry that she wrote, as is her love of North Pembrokeshire where her family has farmed the land for generations. Megan’s spiritual connection to the rugged Pembrokeshire coast has been captured by the Goodwick-based sculptor, Darren Yeadon, who has created a tribute to her carved from Preseli bluestone. Around a slab of natural rock he has inscribed one of Megan’s poems, a simple composition which she wrote when she was 16 years old and which encapsulates so much of the person she was.
Dear God, as resting now I lie,
I pray my soul to reach the sky
To fly to green hills yonder nigh,
And swelling seas that scream thereby
To crash on rocks from which I rose
And blue-blue-green that someone knows,
Dear God, that in my time of rest
My spirit wanders to the West.
And if I die before I wake,
My country, then, my soul shall take.
About Merrilyn Thomas
Merrilyn is a writer, historian and former journalist. She is an honorary research fellow at University College London, specialising in the Cold War. Her publications include The Cold War: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld, 2009), and Communing with the Enemy: Covert Operations, Christianity and Cold War Politics in Britain and the GDR (Peter Lang, 2005). In 1989, as a journalist, she wrote Life on Death Row: One Man’s Fight Against Racism and the Death Penalty (Piatkus, 1989 and Paladin, 1991) which told the story of the fight by British lawyer Clive Stafford Smith against the death penalty.
Merrilyn is also a fellow of the George Bell Institute, an international body of over thirty scholars, writers and performers living and working with critical independence outside established university institutions across the world.