Not every person affected by cancer wants to share the story, and understandably so.
Nathan and Jenny Miller, on the other hand, are eager to speak at the East Wake Relay for Life Survivor Dinner, set for 6 p.m. Thursday in the large fellowship hall at Wendell Baptist Church.
The Millers’ daughter, Becca, was diagnosed in January with neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that commonly affects young children. At 5 months old, she is the local relay’s youngest survivor this year.
“We just want to share that no matter what people are facing as far as cancer and struggles, that God is there and in our lives – even in the dark times, that He was there with us,” said Nathan Miller, an associate pastor at Hephzibah Baptist Church.
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Becca has now been through two rounds of chemo. The disease is mostly eliminated from her chest, but doctors are still concerned about where it exists in her liver.
“We’re kind of in a limbo,” Miller said. “We wouldn’t have wanted to have to humanly go through the journey, but God has taught us a lot through it, about ourselves and about His goodness.”
The annual Survivor Dinner honors both cancer survivors, like Becca, and their caregivers as a precursor to the Relay for Life event, set for May 20-21 Relay at Five County Stadium. The Relay is the climax of the year-round fundraiser benefiting the American Cancer Society's research and family support programs.
Aside from a square meal, the Survivor Dinner features several speakers, entertainment and door prizes.
“It’s an opportunity for us to remember those who have lost the fight and celebrate those who are continuing to fight,” said East Wake Relay co-chair Vickie Curtis.
Curtis says it helps for cancer survivors, especially those beginning their battles, to hear other survivors speak. It helps them to realize they aren’t alone – that there are others going through the same things, she said.
“Even if you’ve been a survivor for 10-to-15 years, it gives others hope as they begin their journey,” said Curtis, who lost her mother to lung cancer in 1996. “It’s such a strong support system. The amount of love and support going around that room that night (of the dinner) and then again at the Relay event is just phenomenal.”
Survivors who attend the dinner are encouraged to take the next step and attend Relay, where there will be a special reception area for them before they walk the first lap around the track alongside caregivers.
Survivors who have yet to sign up for the dinner and want to attend are asked to contact East Wake Relay co-chair Bobbi Jane Duke at 919-801-5898. Anyone interested in joining or creating a Relay team, or seeking more information, can call ACS community partner Nikki Hastings at 919-334-7196 or Curtis at 919-210-6888.
On the horizon
▪ For those wishing to honor survivors, caregivers or someone who has lost their battle with cancer, luminaria can obtained prior to or at Relay for $10 each. Torches are also available for the Hope Garden at Relay for $100. Both the luminaria and torches come in colors designating whether the honor is for a survivor, caregiver or a lost loved one. Those items can be purchased online at nando.com/3ig or by calling Curtis.
▪ A new reception called Hope Club Night will be held at Wendell Baptist May 5 from 5:30-7 p.m. It is open to team members who raise $100 for Relay, earning a Hope Club T-shirt – which replaces the shirt team members formerly received by raising $10. The national Relay for Life theme, “Paint Your World Purple,” is visible on the Hope Club T-shirts.
▪ All Relay teams will sell advance tickets for the Relay at the Park promotion for the Carolina Mudcats’ May 13 home game, with a portion of proceeds going back to the local cause.
Weekly updates on Becca Miller are posted on Facebook; search for Becca’s Journey. She also has a GoFundMe account at nando.com/3ql.