In June of 2009 our dad, Bob Miller, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. An avid cyclist for over 20 years, he was very involved with the Cascade Bicycle Club and rode his bike 4-5 days a week year round. A few months before he was diagnosed, he began to notice a decrease in his fitness. He was unable to keep up during Club rides and even his daily rides became difficult to complete. With the encouragement of some of his cycling friends, he made an appointment with his doctor.
His lung cancer diagnosis came as a complete shock. He briefly smoked in his youth, but not enough to be considered the cause. It was just one of those incredibly cruel twists of fate. By the time he was diagnosed, the cancer had spread throughout his entire body. He was given about a year to live. During that year he underwent brain surgery, chemo, radiation and clinical drug trials. He is the only person to ever smuggle a bicycle into the recovery unit of the hospital (in which he underwent brain surgery). With the scars fresh on his head he pedaled away, refusing to give into his illness. During the spring of 2010 he started working with Dr. Martins at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance who discovered a misdiagnosis and entered him into the Tarceva clinical trial.
The trial easily bought him a few extra months of life. It allowed us to take two amazing vacations with our dad, one to the Grand Canyon and one to Canon Beach, OR. He wanted to see our faces light up upon seeing the Canyon and we did not disappoint him. We arrived on a spectacular day as a snowstorm lifted up out of the Canyon to reveal it’s beauty. That afternoon, the sun shone brightly. At Canon Beach he was able to ride his bike for the last time in his life. He rode up and down the beach, a huge grin plastered across his face. Despite his grim diagnosis, he took all the joy he could from his life.
On July 1st, 2010 he passed away at home surrounded by his family. We spent a lot of time with him that last week and one thing he wanted us to know was that even after he was gone he would live forever in our memories. With this in mind we put on the 1st annual Bob Miller Memorial Ride on September 19th, 2010, his birthday, and started the Bob Miller Foundation. In this way he will never be forgotten. His memory will live on as, every September, we ride his favorite roads and take part in his favorite activity. His memory will live on in the research funded in his name, and in the future lives that we hope to save. Most importantly, his memory will live on in the hearts of his children, his family and all of his friends.
Jamie (Miller) Sachtjen
Jamie found her lumps on June 24th 2019 while breastfeeding her son, Crosby. She figured they were breastfeeding related and almost didn’t get them checked out. She had had an exam 2 months prior and nothing was detected. It couldn’t be cancer. The diagnosis came two weeks later, Stage 3, Grade 3, triple negative breast cancer. A rare and aggressive form of breast cancer making up 10-15% of known breast cancer cases. The next 10.5 months were spent in active treatment. She received chemotherapy 16 times, her breasts were removed and while her surgeon is incredible, reconstructed breasts are not the same or an “upgrade” to the real thing. She had 25 grueling days of radiation and a final surgery to remove the rest of her female anatomy (preventative measure for increased risk of ovarian cancer). She won’t even start to list the side effects or mental toll, lots of them ongoing.
Over the past year, she has met countless, young, brave women who have trudged a similar path. Who didn’t think it could happen to them, until it did. Some of them, like Jamie, are currently cancer free. Some of them didn’t have a complete response and are still in active treatment. Some of them have a different kind of breast cancer and will be in active / maintenance treatment for years. Some of them are no longer with us. All of them found their cancer “early”. All of them. We can’t even begin to imagine how this might look if Jamie had waited a few more weeks to get checked out. Stage 4 breast cancer has no cure. It is for this reason, we support stage 4 research. Only 2 - 5% of total funds raised for breast cancer are allocated to stage 4 breast cancer.