Sue Miller is comfortable being in control, and as big sister to three younger siblings, mom to three children and grandma to four, she's good at it. When she was diagnosed with lymphoma following an emergency room visit for another reason, her daughter said it best: "Mom isn't supposed to get sick."
"It happened very quickly," Miller remembered. "One moment I didn't have cancer and the next moment I did."
With no family history of the disease, the stage 3 cancer diagnosis came as a surprise. Miller prided herself on receiving regular check-ups and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and was known among friends and family for rarely taking a sick day. She had toured the Douglas & Nancy Barnhart Cancer Center at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center the month before, as a member of the women's fundraising organization Las Primeras, but never imagined she'd become a patient in just a few short weeks. Accustomed to the caretaker role, she had cared for friends with the disease, but the possibility of it happening to her never crossed her mind.
Still, she was quick to accept the reality and gain back control. She and her physician, Dr. Ken Johnson, a Sharp-affiliated oncologist and hematologist, charted a course of treatment that included six chemotherapy sessions and five weeks of daily radiation therapy. In choosing to have her treatment at the Barnhart Cancer Center, the Bonita resident liked the idea of staying close to home.
"I thought, 'This is my family, this is my community.' I wanted to let others know that the Barnhart Cancer Center is a good place to go."
During treatment, Miller found her usual role of caregiver reversed as her friends and family surrounded her with support. Her husband drove her to appointments, one daughter researched cancer topics, another daughter created a binder that contained all of her appointment information and other loved ones visited and brought meals. Among the most special gestures was one from her grandchildren: a blanket adorned with a daisy and the words "Never put yourself first and give it all to God."
"The words on the blanket resonated with me," Miller said. "I like to say that Dr. Johnson was navigating, but God was driving the bus."
Find a San Diego Oncologist
To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego oncologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.
For More Information
To learn more about cancer services at Sharp Chula Vista, visit the Douglas & Nancy Barnhart Cancer Center.