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(Paul Fraughton | The Salt Lake Tribune) . Megan Elizabeth Kemp, who has stage 4 breast cancer, works in her sewing room. Her wish is to design an outfit for Lady Gaga. Monday, February 27, 2012
The dream of a dying mother: Design an outfit for Lady Gaga

West Valley City woman plans to appeal to the superstar online.

First Published Feb 29 2012 02:39 pm • Last Updated Feb 29 2012 03:59 pm

As a child, the possibilities seemed endless. Megan Elizabeth Kemp wanted to be a fashion designer. And a singer. And an author.

In a blog, she writes about the sleepless nights she spent in high school enthusiastically dreaming up fashion designs. Filled with bottled excitement, she would climb out of bed and bring her vision to life with a sewing machine, working all night and then proudly wearing her creation to school the next day.

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Megan Elizabeth Kemp will make an appeal to Lady Gaga on Friday in a YouTube video called “Help Me Gaga.”

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Today, she rarely sings, even though she finds it soul-lifting. She has a fashion degree, but only sews for fun. And she has files of children’s stories saved on her computer that no one, other than a few family members, has read.

Somewhere along the way, the West Valley City resident stopped believing in her grand plans, allowing her dreams to fade into the background. But there’s been a shift. The 30-year-old mother of one has Stage 4 breast cancer, an incurable illness, and now wants to fulfill her neglected wishes before her disease takes over.

Her biggest dream? To design an outfit for Lady Gaga.

With time not on her side, Kemp needs help to empty her bucket list. While she’s adamant about not needing fame or power, she says trying to reach her goal will help her find the faith in herself that she had as a child, and also teach her 4-year-old daughter that having dreams is important.

Kemp had just finished breast-feeding then-10-month-old Makena when she was diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer. She initially responded well to hormone therapy. But the treatment stopped working after a few months.

Now, three years later, the young mother undergoes chemotherapy every three weeks. She hasn’t been told how long she is expected to live.

"I have a secret goal to make it to 40," she says, "but I want to take what I have and do the best with it."

For Kemp, the best includes going public with her dream of designing an outfit for Lady Gaga. In a YouTube video called "Help Me Gaga" that will be posted Friday, Kemp talks about her lifelong regrets and addresses the singer directly, hoping the clip will garner enough attention to connect her with the music superstar. She wants to interview the icon to feel out her mood, and then design a dress for her.


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"I love her moxie when it comes to what she’ll wear," Kemp says. If Lady Gaga "would take a second to believe in me the way she believed in herself, I just think that would be incredible."

The West Valley City woman hopes to get her own community to share the YouTube clip, both to propel her toward her dreams and to inspire others toward theirs.

"None of us get to know for sure when we die," she says. "If you knew you were going to die, what would you want? What regrets would you have?"

Kemp first wrote about her goals in a blog called "My Life with Stage Four Breast Cancer" to prove to herself that she was serious about her dreams. When she received positive feedback from friends and family, she felt even more motivated to work toward realizing those dreams.

"To think people are listening and are interested, that’s cool," she says.

While designing for Lady Gaga is her ultimate goal, Kemp also hopes to someday publish a children’s story and to organize a fashion show to display her creative designs and raise money for cancer.

"It’s so much fun to be involved in a fashion show," she says. "So to do one with all my designs I think would be awesome."

As for her childhood dreams of becoming a singer? That’s on the sidelines. Kemp realizes she doesn’t have the energy to pursue that goal, but is content sharing her voice with her daughter.

Along with terminal cancer, Kemp deals with Crohn’s disease and arthritis. But she feels grateful to have a wonderful husband and daughter and a "good life." Although she would be thrilled to empty her bucket list, Kemp says it won’t dictate her overall happiness. Most important, she hopes to set an example for her daughter.

"I want my daughter, Makena, to know that her dreams are possible and that her mom didn’t give up," she writes in her blog. "Not in life, not in health, and not in her dreams."

closeup@sltrib.com



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