Millie McConnell – British Columbia, Canada
My name is Millie McConnell, and I am a twelve year stomach cancer survivor.
I was diagnosed Nov 15, 2001 with Stage 3B Signet Ring Stomach Cancer and told to put my affairs in order. The hospital had me on morphine although it was on my record prior to surgery that I was very allergic to it. Following surgery I awoke vomiting most of the blood out of my body. This led to a blood transfusion to replace all the blood. (I’m looking into this to see if it could be the reason why I’ve survived and am so rare a survivor!!!)
My type of cancer at that time was labeled “juvenile and aggressive.” The doctors explained that they had no idea how to even TREAT it, so they put me on the second highest levels of chemo and radiation treatments together.
Once the initial SHOCK hit, I slowly came to realize that it was all now out of my hands. At this point I decided to LET GO and just follow the advice from doctors, oncologists, family, friends, and others and just LIVE as best I could with joy for each day of life left.
What followed was a very aggressive treatment of chemotherapy and radiation, and through the entire experience I remained calm and even cracked jokes with my family, fellow patients, and the medical community treating me. This attitude seemed to ease the experience because I was not hanging on to the negative emotions that often accompany this experience.
It’s been a long journey. Five years following treatments I forced myself back to work (against my doctor’s orders) as an Admission Representative at a local business college. After about 1.5 years, my system completely crashed and doctors told me I was done. I explained to these doctors, “Never say you are DONE to a cancer survivor! I’m DONE in this career but starting another.”
Following this I joined Toastmasters International and began learning how to be an effective public speaker. This has led me to so many more experiences and one is with another organization, Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer. This amazing group of people, (especially Debbie who is my inspiration) flew me to Washington DC to visit the legislators’ offices on Capitol Hill. I joined thirty people who came from across the United States to advocate that funding for stomach cancer research be reprioritized by NCI (National Cancer Institute).
Meeting other survivors was inspiring and being the longest survivor there, I tried to help with questions and sharing of information to help everyone learn as much as possible about this deadly disease.
Now I may be asked to go on a local news station in another province to tell my story, and I’m hoping to begin a Canadian chapter for us all to GLOBALLY unite and learn together! My dream? TO ELIMINATE STOMACH CANCER BY RAISING IT TO THE TOP FOR MORE FUNDING FOR RESEARCH AND GRANTS.
Thank you for letting me tell my story. I have a book almost completed in hopes of also inspiring others about to travel on this journey into fear and the unknown.
Believe in miracles. I am living proof that they DO happen!