THE WHY? FOUNDATION - TOUCHSTONE THURSDAY
by Katherine Ferrara & Allison W. Gryphon
“You have breast cancer” isn’t exactly what the typical 24 year old male expects to hear from his doctor. Bret Miller thought the lump on his chest might be something, but the 2010 diagnosis certainly was not what he was expecting. Holding down two jobs, as a bartender and pool/ice rink manager, Bret was faced with the third job of battling cancer and opted for a fourth, starting the Bret Miler 1T Foundation for breast cancer education and awareness.
What kind of cancer did you fight?
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ Stage 1 Breast Cancer.
Is there a history of cancer in your family?
There is history on both sides of my family. There have been seventeen cases of breast cancer in my cousins. All women.
Do you know where your cancer came from?
I don't have the gene.
Did you think you were at risk?
Not in a million years would I have ever thought I would have breast cancer or any of the cancers.
What type of treatment did you go through?
I had a mastectomy on my right breast in May 2010. From July 2010 through September 2010, I went through four rounds of chemotherapy.
What was your recovery from surgery and treatment like?
Throughout my entire diagnosis, surgery and treatment, I missed a total of one week of work. I was never tired from the chemo. I got lucky with everything that happened.
Did you experience any side effects from treatments or surgery?
I lost my hair. I was never nauseous. I had the body aches once only because I forgot to take my steroid pills before and after my second treatment. I took them the following day and felt better.
Are you in any type of treatment now?
What is your medical maintenance schedule now?
I have check ups every six months.
How important did you find diet and exercise in getting through treatment and surgery?
It is very important to do diet and exercise while going through treatment and surgery, but don’t push yourself if you don’t have the energy. Also if your blood cell counts are low, do not go to the gym because of possible germs and infections that could result. I had to stay away from the gym for a couple of weeks due to low counts.
How did you get through the day-to-day of your cancer fight?
I went through every day like nothing had ever happened. It never phased me that I had breast cancer. I still worked forty plus hours a week at the pool I manage and worked an additional two shifts a week bar tending.
How did you fight cancer emotionally?
I had the support system of my family and friends to get through it all. But I never had the mind set of, “Oh poor me, I have breast cancer.” It was just a roadblock in my amazing life.
What does being a survivor feel like?
Amazing. I am living life to the fullest and not having a care in the world. I am a warrior and proving it every day.
What advice do you have for other cancer fighters?
You will beat this. With the determination and support of your family and friends, you will have no trouble kicking it’s ass.
What advice do you have for medical professionals?
Don’t forget about men. Check them for breast cancer too. Cancer does not discriminate so neither should they. I had mentioned my lump to my doctor when I was seventeen, but he never looked at it. He just said it was a calcium buildup and that I was becoming a man and it would go away. It never did.
What advice do you have for friends, family and co-workers of cancer fighters?
Be very supportive. This is an easy time for the patient to think they won’t beat this or that they are in this alone when they aren’t. Also use humor, it is nature’s best cure.
How do you feel about the future? What are your hopes and dreams?
I am totally optimistic. Anything that comes my way I will conquer. My hopes and dreams are to expand The Bret Miller 1T Foundation to a whole new level and let others out there know that cancer is very beatable by building awareness, and that early detection is key in the fight against breast cancer.
For you in one word, what is cancer?
To learn more about Bret Miller and the Brett Miller 1T Foundation visit www.CheckThem.org
To read our interview with Brett’s mother, Peggy, Click Here