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Patient with pancreatic cancer loves cooking, celebrating Thanksgiving

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Patient with pancreatic cancer loves cooking, celebrating Thanksgiving

Every day is filled with adventure and kindness for Richard “Rick” Miller - especially Thanksgiving.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist, tfender1@iuhealth.org

Richard “Rick” Miller loves the holidays with his family. He’s considered the primary cook when he and his wife host their three children and eight grandchildren for family gatherings.

“He makes turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, and everyone loves his noodles,” said his youngest daughter, Nicole Kemp. She has two siblings - Ryan Miller and Tiffany Miller. As she joined her dad recently at IU Health Simon Cancer Center Kemp shared childhood memories - vacations to Florida and annual trips to King’s Island.

She talked about Saturday morning childhood adventures - trips to the bakery, shopping for the latest toy or bike, or walking through the Brown County woods. In the summer, the Miller children enjoyed swimming in their parent’s pool, inviting their friends to join the fun.

“Thanksgiving is no different. My dad has always opened the door to anyone in our circles who needed a place to go,” said Kemp. “He makes it a day where his family and friends are well fed and loved. He is one of the kindest people on this earth. I don’t say that because he is my dad. I say it because those who have ever encountered him, have received nothing but kindness.”

The stories Kemp shares help pass the time for her father as he undergoes chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

Miller, 76 first became a patient at IU Health in August when he underwent a Whipple procedure, also called a pancreaticoduodenectomy. The surgery is done to remove the head of the pancreas and also involves removing the first part of the small intestine, the gallbladder and bile duct. Miller was in the care of IU Health’s Dr. Mark Gromski. The procedure involved removing 18 lymph nodes found in the pancreas.

His followup was with Dr. Michael House when he learned he has pancreatic cancer. He’s now undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments.

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month - a time to promote the physical and mental wellbeing of men.

“I had Type II diabetes and I knew that I had to have regular checkups. I have friends who don’t do that and it catches up with them,” said Miller. “I can’t say enough about Dr. House. For as good as he is, he’s so humble.”

Miller grew up in Southport and graduated from Southport High School. He went on to attend Indiana State University and worked 71 years selling automation equipment. “I said I never worked a day in my life because I loved my job so much. I cried the day I retired,” said Miller.

Fifty-four years ago he married his wife, Nancy, a young woman he met at a Friday night dance.

“I feel so fortunate to be 76 years old and the only time I’ve been in the hospital is when I was thrown out of car during a wreck when I was five and was in a coma for several days,” said Miller. He also had his appendix removed in 1995.

“I’ve enjoyed a great life with my wonderful wife and kids and I look forward to every holiday when I’m in the kitchen cooking for the family.”

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