From Pregnancy to Survival: How My Second Child Brought Hope in The Face of Cancer

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Sharon miller in her kitchen

Sharon Miller is a cervical cancer survivor.

She calls her 18-month-old daughter, Olivia, her guardian angel.

A lump was discovered on her cervix during childbirth. Prior to that, she did not have any signs or symptoms of cancer and was not going for routine Pap tests. So, thanks to a surprise second pregnancy, she says she may never have found out that she had cervical cancer, until it was too late.

One female and one male adult with two young girls

Sharon and her husband, Greg, had decided to let the universe decide if they were destined to have a second child. The couple, along with their five-year-old daughter, Gabby, were excited about having a new addition to their family home in Regina.

“She came right when she needed to come,” said Sharon. “I truly believe she saved my life.”

Shortly after Olivia was born, she went for a Pap test and the results came back suggestive of cervical cancer. Further scans and testing upgraded her diagnosis to Stage 3b cervical cancer.

“Being diagnosed with cancer is probably the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me.”

Her maternity leave was much more difficult and challenging than she ever expected. In addition to caring for her newborn, she was attending regular appointments, undergoing radiation therapy and managing the exhausting side effects of her treatments.

Sharon recalls being very nervous and scared walking through the doors of the Allan Blair Cancer Centre for the first time. But she says those feelings did not last long as she was warmly welcomed by staff and caregivers.

“Every person you meet is there to care for you and support you. And not just you, but your family as well.”

After three months of seemingly endless and uncomfortable appointments, she happily rang the Cancer Agency’s bell, signaling an end to her treatments. Her follow-up scan later that year (October 2022) confirmed what she was hoping and praying for—remission.

“It was the news we had been hoping and praying every day for. My family and I cried a lot of happy tears that day.”  

She says she is forever grateful and thankful for the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency for taking such good care of her throughout her difficult journey.

“I had an amazing experience with the Cancer Agency from my team of oncologists to the nurses, to the radiation technicians,” she said. They were all patient and kind and took the time to answer my many questions. You can feel that, for them, this is more than just a job.

I want others who are diagnosed with cancer to know that they can take comfort in the fact that they are in good hands with the Cancer Agency.”

Sharon says her experience really opened her eyes about the importance of prevention and early detection. She says that after her first child, life got much busier, and she did not prioritize going for routine Pap tests. She also had a misconception about the purpose of the appointments and thought they were not as necessary since she was in a long-term committed relationship with one partner.

“If others can learn anything from my cancer journey, I hope it is to get routine Pap tests and the HPV vaccine,” she said. “Don’t wait. Don’t put it off.

If I was keeping up with those quick and easy appointments, my journey could have been very different or may not have happened at all.”

A Pap test can save your life. That’s the message from the Saskatchewan Screening Program for Cervical Cancer (SPCC). Anyone with a cervix, who is between the ages of 25-69 needs to go for a Pap test every three years. Pap tests can find cell changes in the cervix before they become cancerous, which means better treatment options and outcomes.

The SPCC also encourages people to follow-up immediately if results are abnormal and get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. High-risk HPV causes almost all cervical cancers.

Sharon says that she wants her journey with cancer to mean something. In September 2023, she joined the Cancer Agency’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) because she wants to help others living with cancer.

“I had to find a way for something good to come out of it. Joining PFAC felt like the perfect way to give back to the agency that literally saved my life.”

Group of 20 or so people outside the pasqua hospital doors

Sharon Miller and her co-workers, who surprised her at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre.

Sharon is thankful for the love and support of her incredible family, friends and coworkers.

She is so grateful to be able to raise her daughters together with Greg. They look forward to many more family adventures and creating unforgettable memories with their girls.

As for Olivia, she will always be their special surprise and so much more.

“She will forever be my little angel, my hero.”

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