Louisville woman shares cancer story ahead of Oaks Pink Out Survivors Parade
Ahead of Friday's Kentucky Oaks Pink Out, Paula Miller is sharing her recent journey before she walks in her first Survivors Parade.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Churchill Downs will soon be decorated in pink and filled with breast and ovarian cancer survivors.
Ahead of Friday's Kentucky Oaks Pink Out, Paula Miller is sharing her very recent journey with Norton Cancer Institute, before she walks in her first Survivors Parade.
Full of pep, Miller wasn't feeling like her energetic self early last year. She went to the emergency room after waking up in the middle of the night. "Within 45 minutes of arriving, I found out I had cancer," Miller said.
In January of 2017, Miller was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer. "My reaction was shock and my husband's reaction, he just totally fell apart," Miller said.
The cancer was everywhere. "Now the task was to find out where it originated and that took a long time," Miller said.
Her doctors did several tests and biopsies to rule out what they could. "For being the upbeat, positive, busy person, I went to being, 'don't talk to me, don't call me, don't have a light on in the room,'" Miller said.
She did a molecular DNA test that revealed breast cancer that had spread. "Never missed a mammogram in my entire life, from 40, for the last 20 years. I've had a mammogram every year, never felt a lump still never felt a lump."
It was actually better news. At least, her cancer was treatable. "One of the hospital doctors had come into my room and she just said, 'well I'm glad you have something we can take care of,' and I mean I was laying in the bed like this. She's sitting over here and I'm like, 'what?! You think I'm going to get better?' and she said, 'sure you are. You're going to get better,'" Miller recalls.
The retired teacher was feeling like herself again. It was at one of many doctor trips to Norton Cancer Institute, she sparked an idea. "If they can treat it, I can beat it. I don't know how I thought that up, but I did. So, when I told him that, he [doctor] said, 'I like that. That sounds like a t-shirt.'"
With only donations, Miller has dropped off t-shirts made for all cancer patients to every local cancer resource center. Some have even been sent around the country and to England. "If somebody had handed me a shirt, that would have been hope," Miller said.
As fast as her cancer had shown up, is as fast as it has gone. Miller went into remission on May 19 of last year.
"I don't feel like a person who has cancer. I don't know. I've told my doctors that I'm a very, very lucky person. Very. If I didn't have cancer, I'd just be the luckiest person I know," Miller said.
Miller has walked in other parades to show support for her friends. "It's just like, it hit me. I'm here, because I'm the one with the breast cancer it's so hard to wrap my head around that now that I feel well."
Friday, she'll join others on the historic racetrack in solidarity. One hundred forty-four people will walk in the 10th annual parade. Oaks Day Pink Out benefits Norton Cancer Institute's Breast Health Program through a three-year partnership with Churchill Downs and Derby Divas. The selected survivors will also receive two complimentary reserved seats for the Kentucky Oaks, courtesy of Churchill Downs, according to its website.
Miller is sharing her survival story, just in case it can help. "The best advice I can say is if you don't feel right, if something doesn't feel right, act on it, even if you just had blood work three or four months before, because look at me, perfect blood work in September, horrible blood work in January."
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