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The Woman Next Door is a Survivor: Melissa Miller

This month, in partnership with AdventHealth for Women, we’re recognizing some of the women in our community who are survivors of breast cancer, who have had a recurrence, or who are currently going through treatment. To us, all of these women are survivors in their own right. It is the hope of these women that by telling their stories they inspire and educate other women who are facing a breast cancer diagnosis.

Melissa Miller was given a diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer while preparing for her wedding. In the process she says she learned how to not worry about the little things anymore. Miller says. “The sink could be full of dishes, or the house a mess. I’ve come to understand that none of that really matters. My priorities changed immediately.” 

Miller says that living with breast cancer has brought her a newfound joy for doing DIY projects around the house. “I find it satisfying to get little projects done. Even watering the plants has become a fun chore,” she says. Because Miller’s cancer did not have a complete response to chemotherapy, she’s been accepted in an immunotherapy study.

Immunotherapy treatments for breast cancer are showing promise. The treatment works by boosting the immune system, helping the body fight off cancer. She says, “I won’t sugarcoat it, after [immunotherapy] treatment I feel like an elephant stepped on my pelvis for days. But if it does what it’s supposed to do, sign me up.” Miller says her life did a 360 after her diagnosis. Her advice to other women dealing with breast cancer is to be their own health advocate, ask questions and, most importantly, ask for help, accept it, and don’t go it alone. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic forced Miller to do a few things by herself including being hospitalized twice. Her friends and family were not allowed to visit her at all. But once again, she found a lesson amid these situations. “When I couldn’t see my husband or my friends who have been there for me through all of this,” Miller says, “It made me appreciate them that much more.”

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Written by Tarre Beach

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