Relay's message of hope

This weekend’s 11th annual Chenango County Relay for Life is sure to draw many families, as young and old come out to support the cancer awareness walk. But even with the hundreds that are usually in attendance, it would be hard to find three generations of women who’ve had cancer and come through the ordeal stronger than ever.

When Doris Miller was diagnosed with cancer in 1965, she stayed positive, even though she had seen her mother succumb to the same disease, and that she says helped her to achieve the status she has today as a 42-year survivor.

Doris went to her family doctor and explained some of her symptoms. She was rapidly referred to another doctor, who suggested a biopsy, and her uterine cancer was discovered. “There was a mention of radiation therapy, but I was afraid,” Doris remembered. She opted for surgery, and the cancer was removed.

Doris explained that her children were in junior high and high school at the time, and she stayed positive for them.

“They were smart about the whole thing. They both took care of me,” she said of her children and her husband. “The three of them were my support system.”

Doris said there was only one time when she ever let the negative possibilities enter her mind. She and her husband discussed what would happen to the children if the cancer returned.

“That was the only time we talked about it. I just had a feeling that I was going to be all right,” she said. The positive attitude seemed to work for Doris. She began going to the doctor every three months for follow-ups, and eventually there was more time between visits.

Twenty years later, cancer would again strike the family, this time targeting Doris’ daughter, Susan Blackman. Susan had been concerned about a lump she found in her breast, but after undergoing a mammogram she was assured it was just a calcium deposit. Seven months after the exam, Susan was on vacation, and she said things just didn’t feel right.

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