It would have been Justin Miller’s 12th birthday today, if childhood cancer hadn’t taken his life in January 2014. His sister Kelly reflected on the time she was with him, and without him, and shares the wisdom she wants to pass on to others going through tough times.
Kelly and her brother Justin. Justin fought neuroblastoma for seven and a half years.
The past 16 months have been rough. Actually, that is an understatement.
Some days are better than others, and for a while, my days weren’t complete. I didn’t want to cry — I was afraid that if I started I wouldn’t stop. I kept everything in and that wasn’t the best for anyone.
I wanted to stay strong for everyone, because Justin was our rock. He was the one who kept everyone together, so I felt it was my job to prove to everyone that I was strong.
I have learned that you do not need to be strong. My brother died — it is OK to be sad.
Before Preston Kilzer shaved his head for the seventh time last Friday, he gave this speech to a crowded room at the Fado Irish Pub head-shaving event in Denver.I’m Preston and I’m 12 years old. I am a cancer survivor. When I started kindergarten at the age of 6, I was bald and just finished battling a very tough war.
This is my story.
With the heaviest of hearts, we are saddened to share that Justin Miller passed away on January 21 surrounded lovingly by his family and friends.Justin, age 10, was a St. Baldrick’s 2012 Ambassador and had been battling neuroblastoma for the past seven and a half years. He was courageous, a fighter, and had a “let’s do this thing” attitude that inspired his supportive “fans” around the world. He will be remembered for his resilient spirit, his dance moves, his smile, and his overflowing love and appreciation for life.
Sending you Legos to heaven, buddy. Now and forever.
For those who would like to make a donation in Justin’s memory, please consider Justin’s St. Baldrick’s team.
Justin, 10, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was 3 years old and has fought cancer seven times.
Justin is fighting childhood cancer for the seventh time
Sunday we had a bit of a glimmer of hope that things were getting better, but by early Monday we knew they were not. After an intense day of vomiting and various other issues to include some internal bleeding, he was admitted to the hospital. We needed assistance to get this under control. I had been doing nightly fluids, meds every three to four hours around the clock, working with the doctors at the hospital with me being home with Justin, but it just didn’t seem to matter.
In addition to all of this, he has also managed to lose over 10 pounds in the last two weeks. He was very sick and we are both exhausted.
Almost four weeks after Justin beat cancer for the sixth time, his latest scans revealed cancer in his bone marrow. Photo: Silver Kite Photography
Once again, we have found out, after just a few short weeks of being cancer free, that Justin’s cancer is back in his bone marrow and possibly two lymph nodes in his neck and collar bone.
We are beyond shocked.
Four weeks. That’s all we got out of this celebration. I know that each day of the past seven years has been borrowed time — Justin miraculously survived induction chemo and transplant, and I know they didn’t expect him to. He has survived cancer relapse after relapse, setback after setback, all by the miracle of God.
But I am not ready to stop spending my days with him. I am not ready to give up.
10-year-old Justin Miller was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2006 and has just beaten cancer for the sixth time! Photos: Silver Kite Photography
OK, you might want to sit down for this one. No, maybe stand up. Maybe sit and then stand?
Justin’s official scan results are in…Drum roll, please…
Justin has officially beaten cancer #6!
Justin is currently 100% cancer free.
A little more than a year ago we were experiencing this same MIBG therapy for advanced-stage neuroblastoma in New York. We hope we are more prepared this time.
Justin fully understands what the next few days will bring: the lead-lined room, the isolation, the feelings of being a “caged animal” where whatever goes in, can’t come out. We’ve talked with him about how restricted Grandma and I will be from being able to take care of him, touch him, hug him and love on him.
Something BIG just happened in my life.
On February 16, I shaved my head for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, in order to promote solidarity between kids with cancer and people without, to raise money for a cure, and to be a “walking billboard” for the cause!
This isn’t just any kind of fundraiser. This is me asking for any donation you may be able to give, to help save a kid’s LIFE. To help find a cure for an ugly disease that doesn’t have the right to take as many people as it does.
As I sit here and reflect on our last year, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with an extreme range of emotions. I can truthfully admit I wasn’t sure if Justin would be here this Christmas, not that I didn’t have hope and not that I didn’t think he could prevail, but because we didn’t have any treatment options available to us. Justin had multiple relapses, weakened bone marrow, low platelets and an ANC that was consistently low. We mustered through each day over the last holiday season, put a smile on our faces and prayed for something to turn up. Justin wasn’t ready to give up; I wasn’t ready to give up.
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