This post is written by my amazing mother, Pat Miller, and shares her survival story through her own words. Enjoy!
By: Pat Miller
Being diagnosed with cancer twenty years ago was like being handed a death sentence. I can remember sitting in the doctor’s office and him telling me I had breast cancer. Breast cancer!? I had a six-year-old and a four-year old; I couldn’t have breast cancer. I felt like someone had literally hit me in the head with a brick.
For about the next 48 hours, much of what happened I don’t remember. Mike, Kate and Charlie’s dad, made arrangements for his mom to fly out, friends took the kids until she could arrive, and I somehow got to the hospital. I can remember people looking at my with sad horrified faces. The priest from the church coming to talk to me, the flowers, the prayers, the dinners for the family went on for months. The questions! At that time, cancer was not something you talked about. Unlike now, few families had been impacted and even less had positive stories if they had. No one really knew what to do or say. Now, the second time, so many advances have been made. With a cancer diagnosis today, you discuss your treatment plan with your doctor and move forward. Today, everyone knows someone who has dealt with some form of cancer. Boobs have come out of the closet and onto center stage. It doesn’t make a diagnosis any easier, but I think it makes the transition back to health more comfortable.
Weeks later, Grandma was sent home, I was back on my feet being a full-time mom and working a part-time job. We didn’t really talk about the cancer, and life went on. My busy life continued, and I still pretty much lived in denial. Move ahead 19 years, we are living in Minnesota and most people don’t even know I am a survivor. My daughter Kate hears about this 3-Day breast cancer walk and decides we should go check it out. I’m thinking to myself “there is no way I am walking 60 miles in 3 days,” but she is persistent, and sometimes, often times, it is easier just to agree with whatever it is she is talking about then to present an argument otherwise. So off we go to the meeting with me having no intention whatsoever of signing up. One hour later, we are signed up and I have paid our fees! We trained together for six months, fund raised and walked the walk, twice! I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. Thus our “battle” to beat it began. My newest friends were surprised but so supportive. They too got involved with our efforts, and if finally felt good to talk about it and finally really deal with it.
Kate has actively taken up the battle with walks, runs, and various fund-raising events. She is also helping to get the word out about genetic testing, as I have tested positive for the BRCA1 gene. Most recently I learned the cancer was back but in its very earliest stage. This time the stay was overnight and I was up and walking/running within days. It is not as shocking or whispered about anymore. Advances have been made. It is no longer a death sentence.
My type of cancer is an inherited gene, and the mutation runs in our family. In the coming days and weeks, Kate will post more about the gene mutation on her blog, please check it out.
To Kate, my wonderful daughter. I am so proud of you!! Love you!