Saturday, August 27, 2005

"..and a Little Child Shall Lead Them - "Walk With Laurie" - Cancer Research

"..and a Little Child Shall Lead Them - "Walk With Laurie" - Cancer Research Fundraiser - Tomorrow - Sunday Dear All, Isaiah 11:6 prophesied, "... and a little child shall lead them." As a family in the Body of Christ we share the joys and pains of one another. Let's join together, young and old, in thankfulness for each other and gain strength from this awesome family the Millers, who lead by their dear daughter Laurie will walk for Life. Come to Regis High School in Stayton the walk starts at noon. Take Highway 22 from Salem to the Stayton/Sublimity exit, turn right and go just into Salem, Regis is on the right just before Safeway. If you cannot attend, please make a donation, none is too small, to benefit OHSU and Doernbecher Children's Hospital. Call Mary for more information or to donate 503-845-3025. Here is an article from the Stayton Mail. Coping with courage Photo by Angelina Morgan Laurie Miller, left, watches as her sisters Karen, 6, and Dora, 3, play with her father, Tom Miller. Laurie, 11, who has a cancerous tumor on her brainstem, is raising money for cancer research at Oregon Health & Science University and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Marion’s Laurie Miller, her mom, dad and seven brothers and sisters battle Laurie’s brain cancer BY TERESA WILLIAMS The Stayton Mail August 17 Laurie Miller sleeps through her MRIs now. The first time she entered the cave-like device was scary, but the 11-year-old girl from Marion has had almost two years to get used to the machine that takes pictures of the tumor on her brainstem. Laurie was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2003. She started her first round of radiation therapy at the same time her uncle, Ernie Kuenzi, was going through his last round. They saw each other nearly every day at the hospital. Kuenzi died in 2004, the second uncle Laurie lost to cancer. Her father’s brother, Rob Miller, died of leukemia in 1995. On Aug. 28, Laurie will lead a walk to raise money for cancer research at Oregon Health & Science University and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. “Walk With Laurie” starts at noon at Regis High School and goes as long as people show up, her father, Tom Miller, said. Donations will be taken, and no donation is too small. All ages are welcome. The walk is in honor of her uncles; both were treated at OHSU, and Laurie receives treatment at Doernbecher’s. “Up at Doernbecher, they’re really supportive,” Laurie said. “They’re always willing to help with anything you need.” Walk With Laurie isn’t the first project Laurie has done to raise money for cancer research. Last year she was one of five Doernbecher patients chosen to design a Nike tennis shoe. Laurie’s shoe is turquoise with a magenta Nike swoosh, shoelaces and fish. The shoe, which was made in children’s sizes only, is sold out, but all the girls in Laurie’s class got a pair. And when seven-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong comes to Oregon for the LiveStrong Ride in Portland on Sept. 25, one of the riders will be riding in honor of Laurie. The ride will support activities for cancer survivors at OHSU Cancer Institute. After Laurie was first diagnosed, she spent 48 days undergoing chemotherapy and radiation at the same time, her mother, Christy Miller, said. She had to wear a mask made of mesh that was attached to the table so that she couldn’t move. Red lights pinpointed marks on the mask, and a large machine like a dental X-ray moved around the room. “It scared me, but I got used to it pretty quick,” Laurie said. Following radiation, Laurie had to go to Doernbecher every month for five days of chemotherapy at a time. “For a long time that stabilized the tumor,” Christy said. But in March, the tumor started growing again. Laurie had to begin a new, experimental chemotherapy. During the month-long waiting period between treatments, the Make a Wish Foundation sent Laurie, her parents and her three brothers and four sisters to South Padre Island, Texas. Laurie wanted to go to Hawaii, she said, but the foundation has had problems sending children there. The Millers looked at Florida, but it’s always booked up in the spring. So they found the island. Laurie got to go horseback riding on the beach, and she went fishing and watched dolphins. She also worked as a chef twice. Once was in a fancy restaurant where she made crawfish linguine and peanut butter shrimp. South Padre Island hadn’t hosted a Make a Wish trip for 10 years, so the family’s itinerary wasn’t full when they arrived. But by the end of the trip, word had spread and the Millers had plenty of activity. “It was just really, really special to do that as a family,” Christy said. And it was the perfect time. Laurie was able to do everything without any trouble. During the first part of April, Laurie started the new chemotherapy. Then the tumor started growing faster, Christy said. She started yet another type of experimental chemotherapy, and since May her MRIs have shown that the tumor has stabilized. The tumor’s growth has affected Laurie physically. She has double vision, and the left side of her body doesn’t respond the way it used to. The tumor is squeezing out the messages to the left side of the brain, Christy said. Laurie can walk, but on uneven or rough terrain, she uses a wheelchair. She gets headaches, too. But the hardest thing about having cancer is not knowing what’s going to happen, she said. Christy said it’s hard not to think about what the next MRI will show. The family has been told that Laurie’s current treatment is the last option. “It’s hard for her not to think about that,” Christy said. “Some days I never think about having cancer, but some days I think about it a lot,” Laurie said. “I can’t imagine going through the stuff she’s gone through myself,” Tom said. Laurie has had to take medications not knowing what they would do to her body. “She just all the way through has been very courageous,” Tom said. Laurie knows that the experimental treatment she receives now may pave the way for better treatments for others down the line. “Knowing that you may be helping someone else in the future is a good feeling,” Laurie said. Someone had to try the first chemotherapy, Christy said, and the family has seen the progress that has been made with leukemia since 1995. “There were people before us that took risks with experimental treatments,” Christy said. At home, the family tries to have fun, and they joke about things others can’t. Laurie got a new pink sticker eye patch with ice cream sundaes and hamburger stickers on it. It was her third patch covering her left eye. She lost the first one in the swimming pool, and the second got dusty when she went four-wheeling. “She’s the kind of girl that can give the boys a run for their money,” Christy said. And with eight children in the family, she has a chance to prove it. Laurie and her oldest brother, Lee, used to be at each other’s throats fighting, Christy said. They just didn’t get along. But now Lee, who is 14, stops himself when he starts to do something to Laurie. He sees how hard things are for his sister, Christy said. As Laurie’s appearance started to change, people began to treat her differently. They were well meaning, but some simply didn’t know what to say, Christy said. “She reached a real acceptance of people and how they react,” Christy said. “Most people that know her will always know how incredibly intelligent she is, how beautiful she is, how happy she is,” Christy said. Even when Laurie was a baby, her eyes would light up. The family has appreciated the help they have been offered. Friends and relatives have been supportive, and people from St. Mary Elementary School, where Laurie and several of her siblings attend, have brought food, Tom said. St. Thomas Catholic Church in Jefferson and St. Bernard’s in Scio have helped, too. “People understand because a lot of people have been through a similar thing with a spouse, a parent,” Christy said. God Bless Laurie and her family Dear Lord. Carolyn "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31 VOCAL Voice of Catholics Advocating Life PO Box 458 Sublimity, OR 97385 Member of Catholic Media Coalition "Inline with the Church, online with the world"

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