Butler County Times Gazette
  • 'Ice bucket challenge' soaking residents

  • Raising money for a local cancer patient.
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  • The “ice bucket challenge” has found its way to Butler County. People all over the area are videotaping themselves tipping buckets of ice water on to their heads to help raise money for a local cancer patient.
    At just 27-years-old, Michelle Miller was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September 2013.
    “It was all over her body and crushing her organs, esophagus and lungs. She had multiple masses in her chest,” said Shannon Higgins, Michelle’s long-time boyfriend. “I almost lost her then.”
    Miller endured months of chemotherapy that had appeared to have worked. But six weeks ago she started having chest pains and it was discovered the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was back.
    “When it comes back it comes back faster and is more dangerous than before,” said Higgins. “They gave her an 80 percent chance of recovery that last time, this time she only has a 50 percent chance. It is a much tougher road.”
    Higgins started dating Miller nearly four years ago. She lived down the street from his mother in Augusta. They had started talking about marriage before she was diagnosed the first time.
    “It put our lives on hold,” said Higgins. “When you hear ‘let’s flip a coin and those are your odds’ that sucks for anybody. I can only imagine what that was like for her. Just when you thought you had won and you can start your life again, this happens.”
    The first time Miller was diagnosed she had just gotten a new job, but never got to start. She had no insurance and the couple quickly went through what savings they had, trying to pay for expensive Cobra insurance and uncovered medical expenses. Miller was too sick to work.
    “When she went into remission she got a job, but was diagnosed again and had to quit that job,” said Higgins. “The first time we had money saved up, now we have none.”
    The worst is still yet to come. Miller is currently undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatment to prepare her for a bone marrow transplant. The treatment is expensive, which led one of Miller’s friends, Danita Kochick, to try something extreme she saw on youtube.  
     “Danita saw that people were do the ‘ice bucket challenge’ for different things around the country,” said Shannon. “She started it and so far we have as many as 70 who have taken the challenge. It is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”
    Each person who is challenged is asked video tape themselves being splashed with a bucket of ice water and to donate $10 to the Michelle Miller Fund Me page and to challenge three more people. So far the page has raised more than $2,100. If you don’t accept the challenge to douse yourself in ice water you are asked to give $100.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I thought I would get prepared for it by wearing a swimming suit,” said Higgins. “The water goes right through the swimming trucks. It was really cold.”
    The videos of the Michelle Miller “ice bucket challenge” are even posted on their own Facebook page, which is growing fast.  
    If an ice water soaking doesn’t sound like a good idea, Higgins said they are also planning a quarter mania event in Augusta for Miller and could use some auction items and vendors. People can donate those or sign up to be a vendor by calling Cindy Houser at 316-640-6187.  The quarter mania will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 24 at The Point Events Center, 2101 Dearborn St. in Augusta.

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