I BEAT CANCER – YET THE FIGHT CONTINUES
My name is Craig Miller and this is the hardest thing I’ve had to do, even harder than fighting cancer. I am a very hard working individual that has been forced into a very bad situation.
For almost 20 years I had this lump on the left side of my neck, it was slightly smaller than a baseball.
The lump itself didn’t hurt, but it did keep me from holding my head up straight after many years, and when I did it caused pain in my right arm, neck, shoulder and back. Every time I was at a doctors office I asked about it, the usual response was it was just a cyst. I went on with life, as time passed the pain increased.
So the really serious stuff started back on June 6, 2015. I had been having extreme random leg pains for several weeks, so I was spending the day watching TV. The whole day my eyes were bothering me, like the frames of my glasses got bent and one eye was using the bifocal part and the other was not. That night when I went to bed, I had my glasses off and picked up my phone, when I looked at it the left side was fine, but the right side was turned almost 45 degrees around.
My girlfriend immediately took me to the Emergency Room. They performed a CT scan gave me some Vicadin and Flexarel, then sent me home with the name of a follow up doctor. The following day we tried to get a hold of the doctor as my condition got worse, so we returned to the Emergency Room where I received more Vicadin and Flexarel and sent home again.
On the return visit to the follow up eye doctor, he sat down in front of me looked in both my eyes, stood up opened the door and said to the nurse, “Make copies of all his records he’s going to the Emergency Room” he then proceeded to write a prescription for a different Emergency Room.
Several hours later we had the answer, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and some other lesser maladies. By this point I had lost all use of my right eye, it had turned in my eye socket over in the corner, the pupil had turned black, and I could not open my eyelid. The same thing was starting to happen to my left eye. My legs and feet hurt so bad I could barely walk.
I was immediately admitted and the tests began. Spinal tap, bone marrow samples, lymph node biopsy, etc. Evidently the cancer had spread to my spinal fluid. It was almost a week before the chemo started. I was released from my first hospital stay on July 1, 2015.
Over the next several months I continued treatment, receiving regular chemo every three weeks as well as chemo injected into my spinal at regular intervals. During one of the rounds of chemo the lump on my neck became engorged and grow to the size of a grapefruit and turned dark purple. It was drained twice and I was sent home at the end of that round. The lump was the size of a pebble for a while then went away. Still don’t know what it was.
By Sept 2015 I regained some use of my right eye and managed to return to work while finishing my treatment regimen causing me to miss some work every couple weeks. I did have a set back around Thanksgiving were I had to return to the Emergency Room for a platelet transfusion and several more days in the hospital.
Had my final regular chemo in Dec 2015 and my final spinal infusion chemo in Feb 2016.
When this all began I was a person that stood 6’4” and weighed 230 lbs. At one point in my treatment my weight dropped below 180 lbs. At this point my weight was around 190lbs. I was prescribed Dronabinol (synthetic THC) to help with my appetite so I could put on weight, In Jan 2017 the HR department at work was informed in writing that I would show positive for THC on drug tests. I was having a lot of trouble eating, it didn’t help three of my front teeth fell out at the same time, root and all. I lost two more over the next several days, during the later stages of chemo
I concentrated on starting to put my life back together health wise and financially. Made even harder by the fact my medical insurance did not kick in until I was in the third month of treatment, due to a paperwork error at work.NOW THE REAL FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL BEGINS
In an effort to put on weight and deal with the chronic pain I sought other remedies, to which I received an Illinois Medical Cannabis Card in June 2018.
I started taking my new medicine, and over the next few weeks I noticed a marked improvement. The biggest was that when I did the exercises given to me by a physical therapist actually started doing some good, the knot under my shoulder blade released, I was able to turn my head, and it didn’t feel as if my arm was being ripped off, I also started regaining normal feeling in my right foot. It also relieve a lot of the pressure on my right eye, which alleviated some of the “double vision” I had been experiencing since getting my eyesight back. For the first time in years things where starting to feel right.
On August 22, 2018 I was called into Human Resources at work where I was told I was suspended from work, and “stop taking your medicine or lose your job”.
I was referred to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which was to hold the magic key for my return to work. 30 days later this changed, EAP was released and I was told someone from HR would get with me soon. On Oct 12, 2018 I received a letter from HR with a form for my doctor to fill out.
This is where things headed downhill, So all I had to do was get this doctor to fill out this form. Easier said than done. For two weeks I tried to make an appointment, then one day before the deadline from HR I receive a form letter and get told that should be enough for HR. They then offered to make an appointment for Nov 1, 2018 several days after the deadline. I accepted the appointment, and received confirmation texts and emails, even the offer of another appointment on Nov 10, 2018. Each time stating the appointment was to have this form filled out.
On Nov 1, 2018 my girlfriend and myself drove three and a half hours in the rain to the appointment at the clinic. Upon check-in the nurse informed us if we were there to have the form filled out the doctor would not see me. They then said they tried to contact me. I just hung my head and left.
I have informed the HR department at my employer, but have not received an answer, so I am in limbo. I do not know if I am still suspended, but I do know I am at the end on my financial rope. The next mortgage payment will go unpaid.
I keep getting asked if this job is worth it, and to me yes. It gives me the sense of accomplishment everyday working on equipment that really interests me. I really like the people that are on the floor and that I interact with on a daily basis. Getting engrossed in troubleshooting machine problems or working on projects help keep me from worrying about everything else and is a great mental escape.
Over the next few days I plan on coming up with both a short term and long term plan for getting myself back on my own feet.
EDIT Nov 7, 2018:
Some good news my company is giving me more time to find a different doctor. Plus with the results of the election yesterday in Missouri, my Primary Care in St Louis should now be able to fill out the paperwork, they have been afraid of repercussions up to this point.
END EDITHow I came up with my goal and where is the money going.
My goal is $7500, this is based on the fact that my monthly bills are approximately $ 2500 - $ 3000 per month and it may be three more months before I have an income again. All money will go to my day to day living expenses.
EDIT Nov 7, 2018
I am modifying my goal to $1500, because it looks as if all I'll need is a few weeks to get back to work.
I will still have more expenses than this, like the medical bills that are still unpaid, but they can wait.
I understand that you may not be able to offer any monetary help, but sharing this with others is still a great help.
Link to the news storyhttps://fox2now.com/2018/11/30/illinois-man-fighting-cancer-said-he-was-suspended-from-job-because-he-uses-medical-marijuana/?utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_content=5c02877504d3011b9fb9b54b&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR1dbHmkhJREtTerfju26CdI6qF4uzWz6kYh9_pQqc0OZ0bHHk5mdSUVMYI