Millie McConnell: Conquering cancer and learning to be a public speaker

"Believe in miracles for they do happen," says Millie Mcconnell, a 12-year stomach cancer survivor

Millie McConnell

Millie McConnell

Millie McConnell is a 12-year stomach cancer survivor.

“I was diagnosed Nov. 15, 2001 with Stage 3B signet ring stomach cancer and told to ‘put my affairs in order,'” said McConnell.

The hospital had me on morphine – and had it on record prior to surgery that I was very allergic to it. Following surgery I awoke, vomiting most of the blood out of my body. This led to a blood transfusion to replace all the blood. I’m looking into this to see if it could be the reason why I’ve survived and been so rare a survivor.

“My type of cancer at that time was ‘juvenile and aggressive’. They explained they had no idea how to even treat it – so they put me on the second highest levels of chemo and radiation treatments – together.

“Once the initial shock hit, I slowly came to realize that it was all now ‘out of my hands’… at this point I decided to let go and just follow the advice from doctors, oncologists, family, friends etc., and just live as best I could, with joy for each day of life left.

“What followed was a very aggressive treatment of chemo and radiation and through the entire experience I remained calm, and even cracked jokes to the medical community treating me and to fellow patients and family. This seemed to ‘ease’ the experience more because I was not hanging on to the ‘negative’ emotions often coming with this experience.

“It’s been a long journey. Five years following treatments I forced myself back to work (against my doctor’s orders) as an admission representative at a local business college. Lasting about one and a half years before my system completely crashed and doctors told me I was done.

“I explained to these doctors, ‘Never say you are done to a cancer survivor! I’m done in this career ~ but starting another.’

“Following this I joined Toastmasters International and began learning how to be an effective public speaker. This has led me to so many more experiences and one is with another organization which flew me to Washington, DC, to help with going to Capitol Hill and pushing for stomach cancer to be raised on the priority list. I represented Canada and my ‘pride’ knew no bounds. Meeting other survivors was inspiring and being the longest survivor there, I tried to help with questions and sharing of information to help everyone learn as much as possible about this deadly disease.

“Now I may be asked to go on a local news station to tell my story and I’m hoping to begin a Canadian chapter for us all to globally unite and learn together. My dream? To eliminate stomach cancer by raising it to the top for more funding research and grants.

“Thank you for letting me tell my story. I have a book almost completed in hopes of also inspiring others about to go this journey into fear and the unknown.

“Believe in miracles for they do happen,” says Millie Mcconnell.

The Aldergrove Leaders’ Club Toastmasters is hosting an Open House event that is open to the public on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Launch (Youth) Room at the SDA church (not affiliated), located at 26245 – 28 Ave., Aldergrove. Please contact Karin Zinner at 604-882-2513 with any questions regarding the event.