“I Felt Like My Identity was ‘Breast Cancer Allison'”

Health Matters: Life After Breast Cancer

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KVRR is welcoming a partnership with Essentia Health in a new weekly segment called “Health Matters”. You’ll see it every Wednesday night right here.

One in eight women in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. A local woman shares her brave story of survival.

“I never thought it would happen to me,” says Allison Miller, a breast cancer survivor.

Allison Miller reflects on her initial thought after being told she had breast cancer.

“I think hearing you have cancer has got to be one of the hardest things you could ever experience,” says Oncology Nurse Navigator at Essentia Andrea Horning.

And those dreadful moments that followed when she had to break the news to her parents and her then 12-year-old son.

“Unfortunately my parents have already lost a child. Twenty-six years ago my brother was killed in a house fire and I’m the only other child,” says Miller.

Her difficult road to recovery consisted of 16 chemo cycles and nearly 35 radiation treatments.

“They lock you in this room, you have to sit in a perfectly still position, they shut this door, you feel very alone,” Miller explains.

Just months ago, Allison was told she was in remission and like many cancer patients, she didn’t know how to react.

“I felt like my identity was ‘Breast Cancer Allison’ and you know I didn’t want that anymore,” says Miller.

Still a bit apprehensive, at almost 42-years-old, Allison is now focusing on all of the positive things she wants to do.

“I have a son I want to watch graduate high school, I want to watch him get married, I want to retire with my husband,” Miller says.

And one of those things is to raise more awareness. The Life After Breast Cancer Conference is coming up and Allison plans on attending.

“It’s just a day of fun, of education to kind of meet other survivors,” says Horning.

The conference on June 16th at Fargo’s Holiday Inn is open to friends and family, caretakers, and survivors and Essentia has a unique definition of the word survivor.

“We consider a patient being a survivor at the time of diagnosis,” Horning says.

The $15 registration for the Life After Breast Cancer conference closes this Friday. You can pay by cash or check at the Essentia Health Cancer Center on South University Drive.