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Woman remains upbeat in face of terminal cancer

<span>Catherine Miller of Charlottetown has some advice for people when they learn she has terminal cancer.</span>
<span>Catherine Miller of Charlottetown has some advice for people when they learn she has terminal cancer.</span>

Catherine Miller urges people to keep their helpful suggestions to themselves

There is so much Catherine Miller does not want from people once they learn she has terminal cancer.

First off, the 52-year-old Charlottetown woman urges people to keep their helpful suggestions to themselves.

A person with the cancer, she says, doesn't want to hear unsolicited advice.

"They've looked at everything, they've read all the papers, they've talked to their doctors,'' she says.

"They know what they want to do. I've had lots of people give me very strange advice: different diets to go on, you know, only eat radishes, funny things like that.''

So, Miller stresses, unless the person with cancer seeks advice, don't give any.

Some people break down after Miller informs them of her illness. She is left consoling them. Not an exchange all that helpful to her.

Others are eager to do anything - and everything - they can in an attempt to help her. Clean her house, for instance. Or whip up a casserole.

Miller, however, is quite capable of cooking and cleaning.

"Maybe somewhere down the line I won't be, but I'm still pretty okay to do a lot of those things,'' she says.

"So I don't need quite that much help.''

Miller also encountered great unease when she told certain people she has terminal cancer. It made some, she notes, very uncomfortable.

"I think it makes us all look at our own mortality, in a way, when you find out that someone your age has a diagnosis like this,'' she says.

"It makes people very uncomfortable.''

So what is Miller looking for from her friends? To simply be just that -- a friend. She wants her friends to carry on as her friends in the same manner they always have.

She still loves going out for coffee, having ice cream and taking on a fun adventure with friends.

"I don't want to be my cancer,'' she explains.

"I'm just regular old me and whatever we used to do, we do that.''

Miller, who is married to Peter Rukavina and has a son named Oliver, was a guest speaker Tuesday at the provincial launch of Relay For Life, an annual fundraising event that raised almost $300,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. last year.

She is appreciative of support from the Society, but she is not in support of some of the language they use, such as the phrase battling cancer.

Miller says she is not fighting cancer. She is not at war. She simply wants to live life - the rest of her life - to the fullest.

"I'm very blessed and I live in a wonderful place and I have great friends and family support,'' she says.

"So I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I am very, very lucky...I just want to live and do the things that make me happy and enjoy life as we go along.''

There is so much Catherine Miller does not want from people once they learn she has terminal cancer.

First off, the 52-year-old Charlottetown woman urges people to keep their helpful suggestions to themselves.

A person with the cancer, she says, doesn't want to hear unsolicited advice.

"They've looked at everything, they've read all the papers, they've talked to their doctors,'' she says.

"They know what they want to do. I've had lots of people give me very strange advice: different diets to go on, you know, only eat radishes, funny things like that.''

So, Miller stresses, unless the person with cancer seeks advice, don't give any.

Some people break down after Miller informs them of her illness. She is left consoling them. Not an exchange all that helpful to her.

Others are eager to do anything - and everything - they can in an attempt to help her. Clean her house, for instance. Or whip up a casserole.

Miller, however, is quite capable of cooking and cleaning.

"Maybe somewhere down the line I won't be, but I'm still pretty okay to do a lot of those things,'' she says.

"So I don't need quite that much help.''

Miller also encountered great unease when she told certain people she has terminal cancer. It made some, she notes, very uncomfortable.

"I think it makes us all look at our own mortality, in a way, when you find out that someone your age has a diagnosis like this,'' she says.

"It makes people very uncomfortable.''

So what is Miller looking for from her friends? To simply be just that -- a friend. She wants her friends to carry on as her friends in the same manner they always have.

She still loves going out for coffee, having ice cream and taking on a fun adventure with friends.

"I don't want to be my cancer,'' she explains.

"I'm just regular old me and whatever we used to do, we do that.''

Miller, who is married to Peter Rukavina and has a son named Oliver, was a guest speaker Tuesday at the provincial launch of Relay For Life, an annual fundraising event that raised almost $300,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. last year.

She is appreciative of support from the Society, but she is not in support of some of the language they use, such as the phrase battling cancer.

Miller says she is not fighting cancer. She is not at war. She simply wants to live life - the rest of her life - to the fullest.

"I'm very blessed and I live in a wonderful place and I have great friends and family support,'' she says.

"So I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I am very, very lucky...I just want to live and do the things that make me happy and enjoy life as we go along.''

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