Miller entered our lives.
Miller was the son to Alanda and Joe Grover and a little brother to his two older sisters Mary Madison and Molly. As soon as Miller was born we knew that he was our missing piece… he completed our family. From a young age, Miller had a smile that would light up a room. Little did we know that his smile would have such an impact on our lives and those around him.
Miller was your normal 16 month old boy that loved Mickey Mouse, Elmo, trucks, balls, music and playing with his sisters. In a blink of an eye our world was changed forever and we got the news that no parent ever wants to hear… "your baby has CANCER".
The news no parent wants to hear.
From that point on all of our lives were changed. Miller became our focus and we took to the fight one day at a time. We figured out early on that this was a marathon… not a sprint. Miller was in and out of hospitals for over a year for treatments, our family was separated for long periods of time due to treatments, and our hearts ached from the anxiety of never knowing how things would turn out.
The stress and pressure of trying to keep a family on track while fighting a battle with cancer is incredibly tough. One of us continued to run a household in Augusta, Georgia while the other was with Miller in Atlanta, Georgia and Houston, Texas for treatments. We felt stretched with all of our hearts and minds with Miller and body in the day to day activities to keep life for our girls as normal as possible. We were fortunate to have a great support system made up of family, friends, and even people that had heard our story asking to help.
A hopeful recovery.
Miller was released from the hospital clear of cancer in May 2015. He went through five rounds of chemo therapy, two rounds of stem cell transplant, and six weeks of proton beam radiation. We only returned to the hospital for quarterly MRI scans to check for any potential growth of cancer.
Life was instantly better as the entire family could see Miller daily. Although Miller wasn’t the same little boy due to significant developmental delays due to his age at diagnosis, location of his tumor, removal of the tumor and the treatments he underwent to fight his cancer, we continued to celebrate each day with him. He went to speech, physical and occupational therapies six times a week in an effort to improve his status. He started school in April 2016 at 3 years old.
Finally, the world seemed to be back in control! We felt normal. Miller would go to his sisters soccer games, we could lay in bed with him every night, eat as a family, be a family again. Our family felt complete again and we would celebrate 90 days at a time between MRI scans.
When things took a turn for the worse.
In November 2016, Miller had an MRI scan that showed some potential growth of PNET (Primitive Neuro Ectodermal Tumor). This was the same tumor that he had been diagnosed with before. It appeared to be back and the treatments were found to only delay the growth. We met with doctors and discussed the options and decided that we wanted to go home for the holidays. We wanted to be together and enjoy the time as it could be our last with Miller.
In January 2017, Miller was scheduled for brain surgery in an effort to biopsy the tumor and remove as much as possible. By that time, the tumor had wrapped around the auditory canal causing Miller to lose hearing and facial expression on one side of his head. When Miller came out of surgery, the doctors had resected all of the tumor they could. Two weeks later, our fears came to reality when we received feedback from the biopsy.
Miller's angel wings.
Over the next few months, we committed our lives to enjoying the time we could with Miller. We called in Hospice and continued to live one day at a time. On April 25, 2017, Miller gained his angel wings. He was no longer in pain, in a wheel chair, or trapped in a hampered body as a 4 year old. He left a hole in our family, but we know that he is always with us in spirit.
We met a lot of families through our journey with Miller that were not as fortunate as us, that had to sell their businesses. Quit their jobs. Leave their child unattended at a hospital for a week at a time, just to keep a job. To make ends meet. And this is where the idea for All In for Miller began.