By Beth Kling - December 3, 2013
SHARE is heartbroken over the loss of Lee Miller, SHARE founding member, director of Special Projects and creator of Patient/Doctor Communication: Side by Side. Lee passed away on November 17, and her vitality, caring, wit and charm will always be remembered, along with her unyielding passion and drive to help women with breast and ovarian cancers.
In 1976, when breast cancer was seen as a death sentence and no one was talking about it, Lee was one of the 12 women who attended a support group brought together by Dr. Eugene Thiessen, a breast specialist. Dr. Thiessen recognized that women facing breast cancer could support one another. This group eventually became SHARE, and Lee was dedicated to helping the organization grow and to advancing its mission.
Lee devoted 37 years of her life to SHARE and contributed in so many ways. In the early years, she designed SHARE's first facilitation and hotline programs, and she served as president of SHARE's Board of Directors for eight years as the organization added services and helped more women. Lee remained involved as SHARE expanded its mission to help those facing ovarian cancer and women whose primary language is Spanish.
Lee was committed to using her own experience as a breast cancer patient to help others. When she was 49 years old, in 1975, Lee had been told callously by a doctor that she'd need a radical mastectomy -- before he even explained that she had breast cancer! This experience gave her a special interest in how doctors communicate with patients and motivated her to start SHARE's "Patient/Doctor Communication: Side-by-Side" program, which she ran for 15 years. Side by Side brings medical students and patients together to improve communication on both sides so that patient care can be enhanced.
Lee also developed and ran SHARE's bereavement services, which have helped many men and women who've lost a loved one to ovarian or breast cancer. She lovingly created and hosted the annual SHARE Memorial Ceremony for 17 years, and she ran a bereavement support group for five years.
In 2007, Lee published a book about her cancer experience and her long-standing work with SHARE. She titled the book, The Cancer Challenge: Sharing the Experience, and she donated all proceeds to SHARE.
Lee put so much of herself into her work for SHARE, and we will miss her tremendously. Fortunately, we have Lee's own words to turn to as we strive to deal with her loss. Lee gave this advice at last year's memorial ceremony:
Lee will forever remain a part of SHARE, and her spirit will live on.
Read Lee's entire speech from last year's memorial ceremony. And please feel free to share your own memories of Lee here. (This photo was contributed by Diana Mathura and Sharron Diedrichs)
Beth Kling is the former Communications Director at SHARE.