Michael Miller

$11,440 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 63 people in 12 months
Created May 28, 2018
My Story

Over the course of my life, the letter “C” has become synonymous with who I am....many consider me a fairly passionate Cubs fan for some reason.

Unfortunately, another “C” has entered my life. It’s a pathetic and cowardly disease that I will fight and refuse to ever let define who I am. I truly hope my story can help others who may be going through something similar.

On the evening of Thursday March 1st, I began to have a pain in the right side of my body, just below my chest yet above my appendix. This pain gradually got worse as I laid there wondering what it could be. It eventually got so bad that I could barely gasp for a breath. Between this and the pain, I truly felt that my time had come. I’m still surprised I didn’t call 911 as I fought for air and through unbearable pain all night.

The next day I scheduled an appointment with my Dr. for routine blood work and more importantly, to find out what the previous night was all about.  A couple of days after visiting my Dr. I received the first bit of alarming news. While my routine blood work came back fine, my liver was showing severely elevated numbers. Referrals were quickly in order and an ultra sound was scheduled shortly after. 

With my first ultra sound completed a few days later, more alarming news came my way. Multiple tumors were located within my liver. A strong sense of urgency became very prevalent with my Dr. and the diagnostic office. More referrals and required approvals from my insurance for chest and abdominal CT scans were on the horizon.

The results from these provided additional alarming news, possibly involving lymph nodes and an area in my stomach. The liver remained concern #1. For the first time in my life, the word oncologist became part of my personal vocabulary.

Erin, my significant other, as I like to playfully call her was ensuring that I wouldn’t be going through this alone. My Brother (Robbie) joined me in Texas the very next day following my conversation with him about everything. Additionally, my Sister-in-Law and her husband (Shannon and Eric) offered me every single aspect of support imaginable to make sure I would not be alone. 

The oncologist visit initially provided hope as he and I had the same idea....a liver biopsy to find out for sure whether the tumors were cancerous or not. Logistics got in the way with my upcoming relocation to Ohio which delayed this biopsy. Additionally, it meant I would be losing this compassionate oncologist who seemed to take a true interest in my condition. In Texas, I was feeling mostly pain.

Oddly enough, this seemed to subside for awhile once in Ohio but it was replaced with nausea, dizziness and very little energy. I likened it to feeling hungover everyday. I was introduced to a new Dr. that Erin and her family see. More referrals for the liver biopsy, liver specialists and an Ohio oncologist quickly took over the excitement of my relocation. 

After a bit of a delay, I was finally having the liver biopsy. The hope was for fatty tumors instead of anything cancerous of course.  I experienced the worst pain since this all started (on March 1st) a few hours after getting home from the liver biopsy. From this point forward, pain has re-joined the feeling of constantly being hungover. 

Alarming news was replaced with shocking news as the diagnosis of cancerous tumors were provided to me about a week after the liver biopsy was performed.

A few days later, shocking news was replaced with the feeling of numbness when the OH oncologist delivered his assessment stating that the liver cancer was non retractable (in-operable). His plan was to find a treatment that will give me the best quality of life for the time that I am still alive. 

Erin, Robbie, Shannon and Eric visited with me about the importance of being as close as possible to my family and friends for the best opportunity of fighting this. They reiterated how it would be good for me to be around Hagan and for him to be around me. It’s an absolute blessing that I will have this opportunity to spend quality time with him. I also had an amazing conversation with JR Sheffer who offered incredible support as a cancer survivor himself. I will be relocating to Iowa the first weekend in June and have already scheduled an appointment for a second opinion with the amazing oncologist who JR had. 

This past Friday I had an endoscopy with a very caring and thorough gastroenterologist. He had my results by the time I woke from the anesthesia. While more cancer was found, he stated we can now be sure of where it’s coming from (another tumor located at the bottom of my esophagus which extends into the top of my stomach) and offered better ideas on how to fight and possibly beat this. 

I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me and kept me smiling despite the news I’ve been receiving for nearly 2 months now. In addition, a huge thank you in advance to anyone who offers their kindness, love, prayers, support during this surreal time. 

Lastly, I wanted to end My Story with 3 things that have always been paramount to me. I think of these all the time now....

Always live, never exist.
Live life with absolute integrity.
Show compassion to everyone and everything that life offers.

Love always, Michael
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FINALLY - Updates on your very own Superman!!!!
Journal entry by Michael Miller — 2 hours ago

Hello Team Miller supporters and prayer warriors.

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who has offered support of any kind (seeing some of you in person, thoughts, prayers, words on fb & cb - or even visiting - and financial). I appreciate you all beyond words and this support has surpassed anything I imagined when Robbie said he was bringing me back home to Iowa. I will beat this or at very least give it a fight to remember because of all of you and your amazing love and compassion.

Secondly, I’m very sorry for falling 4 Treatments behind on updates. To say the foggy aspect of “chemo brain” is trying is a major understatement. Lots of sleeping and when I am awake, lots of goofy indecisiveness and other strange behaviors. Don’t even get me started on the chemo induced dreams....weird to say the least.

Treatment #1

June 11, 12, 13

I’d seen my oncologist (Dr. Daniel Buroker) prior to this treatment for blood work and to determine which route would be best to take regarding treatment when I told him I intended to fight and beat this despite the Stage 4 diagnosis.

To clear any confusion on my diagnosis and simply putting this in easy to understand terms, I have a tumor that extends from the bottom of my esophagus into the top of my stomach. This sneaky little coward metastasized into my liver causing multiple cancerous tumors. So many in fact that if they were to try to remove them surgically, I would not have enough of my liver left to perform its normal functions. Thus, the decision to go with chemo.

Blood work showed severely elevated liver #’s climbing to the 900 range (the normal range for this is 30 - 120). When all of this started on March 1st, my liver #’s were in the low 200’s which caused severe pain that night. Climbing to 900 caused skin blotches all over my arms, neck, chest and back. Additionally, it caused my liver to become so bloated that the right side of my torso expanded outward much further than the left side. Excessive water retention in my torso and legs was another unpleasant side effect of these elevated numbers.

The chemo treatment I am on is called FOL FOX. It lasts anywhere between 3 and 4 hours on the Monday of chemo week. Everything (including the blood work) goes through this nifty little port which was previously placed (surgically) near my right collarbone. This is really handy as I have no veins affected regarding anything. Once Monday’s chemo is done, I take a unit with 140 ML of additional chemo home with me which slow drips for the next 2 days. This agenda is the same continuing every other Monday.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are not bad days considering I’m taking in a lot of potent chemo. A really weird side effect that starts almost immediately is that my finger tips, toes, bottom of my feet, tip of my nose and my throat (when drinking or eating anything cold) are all very susceptible to low temperatures. So much so that it actually hurts all areas mentioned. Wednesday afternoon has me back to visit the Chemo Girls (who are the most amazing and compassionate people I have ever met) to get the unit unhooked from my port and to get rejuvenated with liquids.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of chemo week are often the worst days as far as feeling the numerous side effects of chemo. The aforementioned (strange) dreams tend to happen during this time frame if not a few days prior.

Monday, Tuesday start to get a little better with the ability to touch, eat and drink cold foods and liquids coming back.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are usually pretty decent days. To help out with hydration, I usually go back in to the Chemo Girls to get liquids (and steroids occasionally) on Friday of the first week and Monday, Wednesday & Friday of the second week.

Medications are too many to recite at this point covering everything from an appetite inducer, 2 for nausea, pain, water retention, blood thinner (shots - ugggghhhh) and cramping.

For the following treatments, I will only include things that are different from Treatment #1.

Weight - I moved from TX/OH weighing 245. Despite carrying too much weight at that time and prior to March 1st, I am expecting this # to drop significantly as I continue treatments.

Treatment #2

June 25, 26, 27

Blood work - Liver #’s are lowering but still outrageously high.

Chemo - In addition to my FOL FOX chemo treatment, my oncologist felt I was strong enough to have Herceptin added to my intravenous infusion. This therapy is designed to specifically target HER2 protein - specifically targeting metastatic cancer tumor cells.

Weight - Lowered to 225 on account of diet. I was having a hard time keeping my calorie intake up as nearly nothing sounded appetizing to me (except loaded baked potatoes, flipping love them - thank you Gino and Robbie for keeping them coming!)

Treatment #3

July 9, 10, 11

PROMISING NEWS - After having a morning CT scan, my oncologist stated he was very encouraged by my reaction to the treatments and tumor shrinkage within just 2 rounds. The incredible thing about Dr. Burkett is that my scans, blood work etc. are reviewed with me within an hour of having them done.

Blood work - Liver #’s are lowering but still excessively high.

Chemo - My oncologist has started giving me a stronger dose of FOL FOX and I am continuing with the Herceptin treatment.

Weight - Significantly lowered to 205 on account of a water pill that has alleviated lots of bloating from water weight.

Treatment #4

July 23, 24, 25

Blood work - MORE PROMISING NEWS as my liver #’s have lowered significantly from the low 900 range to 207. Still high but defining trending in the right direction.

Chemo - I’m still on the stronger dose of FOL FOX and I am continuing with the Herceptin treatment.

Weight - Holding steady at 202

Lastly, many have asked about the # of treatments or length of time I will be going through them. I will continue my current treatments for an unspecified timeframe. Until the tumors are killed off or until the tumors become resistant to the current chemo at which time I will be switched to a different treatment plan.

Hoping these updates bring you happiness during this trying time. The promising news certainly has for me just as hearing from all of you each and every day.

Please keep Robbie, Shannon, Gino, Erin and her wonderful family, Dr. Buroker and his nurses Amy and Sheryl, Dr. Lukenbill and last but not least, the amazing chemo girls at Medical Oncology and Hematology Associates of Iowa (MOHA) in your prayers and good thoughts. All of these girls (Marcy, Abby, Madi, Shauna, Kate, Teri, Pam, Amy, Melanie) are the most caring, loving and compassionate people I could’ve ever hoped to have in my corner.

Thank you for cheering on your very own Superman.

Always and forever, love Michael
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Hi friends,

You can now use teammillersuperman.com to get to Mike's GoFundMe page.

Also, the Caring Bridge can be found here https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelmiller3

Thank you so much for supporting Mike in his fight.

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$11,440 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 63 people in 12 months
Created May 28, 2018
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