September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join us today, September 21, 2009 as CURE Childhood Cancer honors CURE Kid Terry Milling. Join our fight as CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time! Donate to Terry’s Fund.
Terry Milling’s Story:
Terry’s journey began in October 2002 when her stomach started hurting. Our pediatrician referred us to Scottish Rite and the roller coaster ride began. Terry had a CT scan which revealed she had a growth on her liver; thought to be a hamartoma, a benign tumor. We were referred to the liver transplant team at Egleston where Terry was to undergo an emergency liver transplant. A liver was located within 24 hours. Terry was in surgery for about 8 hours and luckily the tumor was lying on top of Terry’s liver so the transplant was not needed. Dr. Heffron was able to do a liver resection. The first pathology of the tumor came back as benign. We were ecstatic! We thought we were Cured, healed and able to get back to a normal life… little did we know, our journey had just begun.
Terry’s tumor came back in her abdomen in March of 2003. She was diagnosed with undifferentiated sarcoma; a rare solid tumor. Our world was turned upside down; cancer had taken control of our lives. Terry began a very aggressive chemo protocol. Her feisty spirit allowed her to continue in school, while her friends were having normal days in kindergarten she was learning about central lines, emergency rooms, nausea, and hair loss. Thanks to the great doctors and nurses at Scottish Rite she was able to break out of the hospital to make her Kindergarten Graduation. School was very important to Terry. She just wanted to be a normal kid. She completed nine rounds of chemotherapy in September of 2003. Again, we thought since we had fought hard and completed every treatment our doctors suggested, we were done. Terry showed no signs of active tumor and finished first grade with hair!
She had a great second grade year; she caught up with her class and received straight A’s. She did not have any side effects that we could notice from her chemotherapy. We were very lucky. We were having CT scans every 3 months to check tumor activity. The fear that the tumor would return was always there but we were trying to get back to normal. Normal was never again a part of our lives because Terry’s tumor came back in June 2005.
The same tumor type in the same location; this time our oncologists were not quite sure what protocol to follow. We had entered into the land of the unknown. Our goal was to fight it aggressively. Terry grew up very fast. She now was in third grade and learned about ports, clinical trials, more surgeries, adult protocols, radiation and hospice conversations. Terry began to understand that if we could not find a chemo to stop her tumor she would die. We tried different protocols that seemed to work for about three months and then the tumor would grow. She no longer cared about losing her hair; she learned to deal with those disappointments. Terry wanted to live. We would talk about how the next chemo would karate chop her tumor. We believed our oncologists would find another drug and keep us going until the Cure was found. And, they did.
We were referred to St Jude’s for a Phase I study but the doctors there sent us back to Scottish Rite. They felt our chemo was working. Our oncology team never gave up. They kept finding a new treatment each time the tumor would begin to grow through the current protocol we were under. The roller coaster was still running… until 2009. Terry’s tumor was growing again and this time there was not a treatment option. That is a conversation I hope one day no oncologist will have to have with a parent. How do you tell your child that we, the people that are supposed to protect them, cannot? Terry could not qualify for a clinical trial because of her previous treatments and she had gone through every chemo drug on the market. The side effects of all of her previous treatments; 12 surgeries, over 55 radiation treatments, over 5 years of chemotherapy treatments had taken a toll on her body and Terry was told on June 8, 2009 that she was going to die.
My feisty-spirited, beautiful daughter became an angel on July 1, 2009. We are trying to find our new, abnormal life without Terry. Terry had always dreamed of becoming an oncologist and working at Scottish Rite with Dr. George and Dr. Rapkin. She wanted to make sure that no child would have to go through the things that she did. She wanted to find a Cure and to improve treatment options. I think Terry’s feisty spirit and determination is still here in all of us. And, I know together we can make her dream come true.
About September & CURE’S Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time:
September is recognized as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This September, CURE Childhood Cancer has committed to raising awareness and raising money to help find a cure for childhood cancer in our lifetime and put an end to this terrible disease through a special program CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time!
Please help us in our goal of raising $30,000 in the month of September while honoring special CURE kids each day of the month who have been affected by childhood cancer.
For more information, please click here.
About CURE Childhood Cancer:
Founded in 1975, CURE Childhood Cancer is dedicated to conquering childhood cancer through research, education and support of patients and their families. Since its establishment as a grass-roots organization, CURE has focused its efforts on improving the care, quality of life, and survival rate of children with cancer.
The founders, parents and a dedicated pediatric oncologist, joined forces to support laboratory research that would translate into immediate care for children with cancer.
Since that time, CURE has raised millions of dollars to fund cutting edge research at the Aflac Cancer Center Blood Disorders Service at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine.
Through innovative programming, CURE also provides support for stricken families, providing them comfort and support during their time of devastating need.
Donate to Terry’s Fund
Visit us online at www.curechildhoodcancer.org for more information.