Breast cancer survivor, mother goes back to school

After a 16 year hiatus from school, 37-year-old mother of two Kerry Miller was prompted by a series of life events to go back to school.

Sara Konu


After a 16 year hiatus from school, 37-year-old mother of two Kerry Miller was prompted by a series of life events to go back to school.

In 2010, Miller had a hysterectomy, but complications during the surgery sent her to intensive care.

“The one day procedure turned into a 12 day stay in the hospital,” Miller said.

Things went downhill for Miller from there. After the disastrous surgery, her doctor recommended that Miller get screened for breast cancer. Several tests later, Miller was diagnosed with a beginning form of breast cancer and surgeons recommended that she undergo a radical bilateral mastectomy.

Despite her hardships, Miller didn’t let cancer get her down. A few days after her mastectomy, Miller shocked her friends when attended a Fourth of July party.

“You have two ways to react to the cards you’re dealt. You can curl up into a ball and cry, or you can deal with it,” Miller said.

Miller chose to deal with it. Surviving her medical procedures was what motivated her to go back to school and get a teaching degree.

“After I got my clean bill of health I thought it was time to do something constructive,” Miller said.

Miller enrolled in Pierce last quarter and took one class and is currently taking two classes this quarter. Her goal is to graduate with a 4.0.

“If I stay on this track I’m going to be a 40-year-old first year teacher,” Miller said.

The typical day for this student and mother of two is a busy one. Miller tries to get to the gym every morning by 5 a.m. and then get home by 6 a.m. so that she can cook her two sons a hot breakfast. She then drives the kids to school, and then drives herself to school where she heads straight for the Pierce College library to study.

After she gets out of classes, she runs errands before picking her kids up from school. Miller then does housework and makes dinner. After dinner Miller and her kids do homework together.

“Sometimes I’m faced with the choice: do I do my homework or do the laundry? Sometimes the laundry has to wait,” Miller said.

When she’s done with homework, Miller spends time with her husband and then tries to go to bed before 11 p.m.

“That’s what’s suffered the most, my sleep,” Miller said. “I’m not going to sacrifice raising my kids or time with my husband.”

Her social life has also taken a hit, but for the most part she doesn’t seem to mind it. Miller was recently faced with the dilemma of staying home and doing homework on the night of her birthday, or going out to celebrate with her husband and friends. Her husband and friends made the decision for her.

“I would encourage anyone that wants to do this that it’s never too late to go back to school,” Miller said. “Fortunately or unfortunately, I had to go through some tough stuff to push me to do it.”

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Breast cancer survivor, mother goes back to school

by Sara Konu time to read: 2 min