To the editor: October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I do not suffer from this type of cancer, but have met many people who have. This is a horrific disease which causes terrible suffering, both physically and mentally. I do not know if I would have the strength to deal with such an illness. While the month is dedicated to breast cancer awareness, everyone should evaluate yourselves to see if you are at risk for cancer and take steps right away to fight it.

In my own case, I have no one to blame but myself, and now my entire circle of family and friends suffer along with me. In the 1990s, I had malignant melanoma. This I had removed but failed to follow up with my doctor despite indications it may have spread to other areas. In mid-2008, I began experiencing symptoms of colon cancer. While I recognized the significance of these symptoms, I chose to postpone treatment due to several issues I felt needed to be addressed before treatment could begin.

By November 2009, the die was set and I could no longer postpone. By this time the cancer was at stage 2 and required radiation, pretty significant life-changing surgery and chemotherapy. In 2011, thinking the cancer was under control,

I was experiencing pain in my back which required CAT and MRI scans. These indicated the cancer not only had returned, but has spread into my lungs. By now it had spread too far to be treated with radiation and chemotherapy was the only option.

By spring of 2013, it became evident the chemo was no longer being effective and the cancer was spreading freely.

Now in the fall of 2013, I am told with each new round of tests, the cancer is spreading ever more rapidly and into increasingly new areas. It is now in my liver, my bones, spine, and skull. It is only a matter of time before all is lost.

Please, do not make the same mistakes I made. When you experience anything you my perceive as a cancer indicator, have it checked out thoroughly and immediately. The earlier you can start to fight this thing the greater your chances of beating it.

There are people who depend on you and you owe it to them as well as yourself to stop cancer before it gets a foot hold. My family will pay the price for my stupidity. I will leave behind two young daughters who will not have a father. My wife will be widowed with no one to assist her in her daily fight with diabetes and running the household.

Please, be aware, get checked, get treated and stay alive.

Harold J. Miller

Shamokin