Writer and Photographer / Keeley Miller
Michelle Miller wasn’t supposed to get cancer. She was a busy mother, wife and employee who frequently gave back to the Geist community. She ate organically and BPA free and also raised her two children the same way, teaching them to not eat foods with ingredients that they could not pronounce. Cancer didn’t run in her family. But still, Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2014.
Now, Miller is an Ambassador for Susan G. Komen Central Indiana, an organization she has been involved with long before her diagnosis. These ambassadors, all survivors of different ages and experiences, represent some of the different faces of breast cancer. Their mission is to educate others and spread hope and awareness throughout the community.
“So many people helped last year with everything that I went through,” said Miller. “I just want to find a way to help other people and give back, and this seemed like the perfect way to do it. [After being diagnosed], finding a survivor to lean on was my greatest wealth of information, and she was a Susan G. Komen ambassador.”
Although she had no family history of breast cancer, it wasn’t new for Michelle. From her previous experience with Komen as well as losing a close friend to breast cancer, she was more educated than most. But nothing could prepare her for a diagnosis she never thought she would get.
Spreading awareness about the disease is something that has been extremely important for her as she emphasized that breast cancer has no target. It can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender or lifestyle. But for Michelle, breast cancer education is something close to home. Her daughter, Katy Rose, has motivated her to fight for the cure to help the next generation.
“It is so important to spread awareness and education because of our next generation,” said Miller, gesturing to Katy Rose. “[The risk of breast cancer] is now one in eight, and it is not getting any better. We need to find a cure, and the harder we work toward that, the more we help [Katy’s] generation.”
With the help of friends and family as well as Michelle’s own positive outlook and fighting spirit, she was in remission in less than a year. She fought and won her own war, and now she is battling breast cancer on a much larger scale as she fights for the cure in the community and across the nation.
“All of [the other ambassadors] are all really super sweet. It is so cool to have other people to bond with and hear their stories,” said Miller. “I learned so much this past year, and I want to make sure that if there is any way I can give back, I want to help. Whether it be making meals, helping do laundry, taking care of the kids or just being there for other people going through what I did, I just want to give back what others did for me.”
This year will be a year of many firsts for Michelle – her first year cancer-free, her first year as a Komen ambassador and her first year running in the Race for the Cure. For Michelle, 2016 is a year of excitement, change and giving back – something she has done her entire life and continues to do as a survivor.
“I’m excited that I am finally healthy, so I can [spend more time with family] – more than you could imagine,” said Miller. “Change is awesome at this stage of survivorship for me! I am not just surviving; I am thriving. Somehow this year, I want to apply all of the information I learned while in treatment by sharing with others and offering my time. If I could help the newly diagnosed navigate through rough waters in any way, I want to be there! I want to give back and share with both love and support. The year 2016, for me, is all about giving back and staying healthy. Yes, very healthy!”