For the reigning Miss New Hampshire, a 21-year-old tap dancer, competing for the Miss America title is nothing compared to her own battle with cancer. Megan Lyman was 12 when she was diagnosed with fibrosarcoma, a stage three tissue cancer. She had to stop dancing for two years while she underwent seven surgeries.
She met her mentor Aaron Tolson during a workshop at Broadway North studio in Belmont, New Hampshire. “Aaron was outstanding. He was always making plans for me for when I got out of the hospital,” she says. “He really kept my head in the right place.”
After her recovery, Tolson asked Lyman to join the off-Broadway cast of Halftime and appointed her as the dance captain of his troupe, New England Tap Ensemble. Today, Tolson, a former Riverdance cast member, lives in NYC and teaches at Broadway Dance Center, so Lyman has been commuting to the city to prepare for January’s pageant. “If I had let her ease in slowly [after treatment], she wouldn’t be here preparing for this big stage today,” he says. “She had so much spirit, so I was tough.” March marks seven cancer-free years for Lyman.
Sadly, Lyman didn’t make it to the talent portion of this year’s competition, which aired live January 12, but this year’s winning participant happens to be a tapper as well! Watch 2013’s Miss America performance here: