Hal’s Story

Site created on May 3, 2019

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Journal entry by Hal Miller

Monday I will be celebrating two birthdays. It has been 79 years since I was born, and it has been 2 years since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Being alive is a blessing beyond belief and I cannot begin to express how thankful I am. Susan and I thought the pancreatic cancer diagnosis was an end-of-life issue only to learn four weeks later from a biopsy of the tumor in the pancreas that it was a slow growing cancer called a NET or Neuroendocrine tumor. Only 7% of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have this type and taking a hormone shot once a month could hold the cancer at bay. We went from the depths of sadness to the heights of joy hearing that information.
 
It is important to note that during the procedure for the biopsy I had a vision where I saw an image of me looking down and that image of me was so full of joy it was incomprehensible. I then heard a voice I thought to be God clearly say, “everything is going to be okay”. That message gave Susan and me an incomparable feeling of calmness and comfort which sustained us then and now. As a side note, some may say that vision could be from the anesthetic. I have been put to sleep sixteen times in my life and always went to sleep and awakened without any visions or sounds. I know what I heard.
 
We needed that comfort because just five weeks later the results of a routine blood test shocked the doctors as the diagnosis was, I also had AML leukemia. It had nothing to do with the NET tumor in the pancreas. I was admitted to Barnes Hospital that day for an eleven day stay while they determined and initiated a chemotherapy regimen.
 
Each disease is treatable but not likely curable. I will most likely be on maintenance chemotherapy protocol for the rest of my life. I currently go for chemotherapy one hour a day for five days in a row for one week out of every five. The chemo is well-tolerated and there are virtually no side effects. How thankful I am to be treated in St. Louis at the Siteman Cancer Center. I am so thankful for everyone on the medical staff.
 
The fantastic news is I have been in remission for the leukemia for almost two years and the tumor in the pancreas is shrinking slightly! My prayer is the leukemia stays in remission. I still bike regularly and feel wonderful. I tell people I am an extremely healthy 78-year-old who happens to have two kinds of cancer fighting it out in my body and I don’t know it.
 
Susan and I decided after learning of my diagnoses to research moving from our condo into a retirement community. We put our name on the list nearly eighteen months ago and moved into Meramec Bluffs in Ballwin near Valley Park on November 23. It is only four miles from our previous condo, so we continue to be close to the kids and grandkids. Our apartment is a three-bedroom, two baths with a den and small dining room. It is spacious and we are joy filled to be here.
 
I have learned many things during this last two years about fear, faith, friendship and family. THE most important is faith and thanking God every day for his many blessings.
Love to each of you
PS
Reach out and tell those you love how much they mean to you. You might also reach out to those who are hard to love as they need you, too.
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