Unfortunately so many people have their own cancer-related stories to tell but I just wanted to take a moment to share our family’s story. I am Sharon Miller Boswell, my sister, Shelley Miller was diagnosed with cancer in October of 2005. She was experiencing extreme stomach pain and was admitted to the hospital. After many hours and lots of tests the doctors determined that she had a blockage in her colon. They took her in for surgery that night. The surgery was late and I had gone home because I had to work early the next morning. My parents, Eddy and Carol, stayed at the hospital with Shelley. I remember my dad coming to work the next morning (we both worked at Dillons) and telling me that they removed a large tumor from Shelley’s colon and that it was cancer. Wow, cancer, our worst nightmare had come true. We had already lost my grandma and my cousin to cancer, my dad had a battle with thyroid cancer and now another family member was diagnosed with cancer. This was such a devastating blow. All I could do was cry and wonder how someone so sweet and loving could have this happen to her.
She was given a colostomy bag, they gave her a partial hysterectomy and she had spots in her liver and lungs at this point already. She had stage four cancer. She began chemotherapy right away. In January 2006 my dad decided to retire from Dillons so that he and my mom could help take care of Shelley. She was a client of Rosewood Services and was living alone in an apartment in Great Bend. She remained in Great Bend and she stayed involved with her friends at Rosewood but they decided she shouldn’t be alone so she moved into a group home. She was not ready to come back to Larned and wanted to still work at the Rosewood Gallery.
During this time she was still having chemo treatments and in July 2007 the doctor said that Shelley’s cancer in her colon was gone and that they would be able to remove the colostomy bag. She was relieved to be getting rid of that bag. She had the surgery to have the bag removed and was in the hospital recovering from that surgery. Shelley had a blood clot that went to her heart and she coded. I was working in Great Bend at the time and was called at work to come to the hospital. I was so afraid of the news I was going to get when I got to the hospital but she was still hanging on. She was flown to Wichita and my parents were on the way there. She was in very bad shape. The doctors there told my parents that there was a lot of damage to her heart and she needed a defibrillator but didn’t think she would make it through another surgery. Our only option was to take her home and call hospice so that is what they did. It was around Shelley’s 40th birthday so we had a big birthday party for her. She was so frail but loved every minute of it. My parents moved her back home with them and my dad was her primary caregiver. Miraculously when she went back to have an EKG it showed that there was no damage to her heart. We were so relieved and wondered how this was possible when a few weeks earlier we were told she had so little time left. I guess God knew that we needed more time with her.
Shelley was a fighter! Eventually the spots on her liver were gone but she could not get rid of the spots on her lungs. She was on chemotherapy for four years until the time came that it was no longer a benefit so it was discontinued. It was a very difficult decision to make but it was time to leave it in God’s hands. On May 26, 2009, Shelley passed away at home with her family by her side.
Shelley loved everyone and could put a smile on your face with her quirky little sayings. She was a caretaker of people, children and animals. The last four years of her life were a blessing to all of us. This is why we are involved with American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. My husband, Ernie and I are the event chairs, my dad is the corporate sponsorship chair and my mom and sons, Trevor and Chandler help us where we need them. We do it to honor Shelley’s memory and that someday there will be a cure for this disease. Please join us at the Larned High School track on Friday, June 17 at 7 p.m. For more information or to purchase a luminary contact me at 620-804-1838.
Relay For Life event chair,
Edwards, Pawnee, Stafford counties,