Adam Miller, 41, of Hudsonville, has dedicated his career as a psychiatrist to helping others. Most days, he could be seen treating patients through struggles or significant life-changing moments. It wasn’t until the summer of 2022 that he suddenly found his own life on a new path.
Life was normal at home with his wife, Hannah, of 18 years, and their two young children, Joel and Owen. “One day, I started getting a severe headache.”, said Adam. “When it lasted a few days, the neurological symptoms grew to me being unable to bend over and pick up keys.” A scan showed Adam had a cancerous mass in his right temporal lobe. “I underwent a successful tumor removal. But I found out that my type of brain tumor (glioblastoma multiforme) spreads, inevitably it will grow back, we don’t know when or how.”, said Adam.
Overwhelmed by a late-stage cancer diagnosis, Adam went through a standard range of emotions anyone would experience after being given life-altering news. “I am a physician, a psychiatrist. I’ve dealt with this disease from the other side as a provider. Now I’m the patient.”, he said. “I got the equivalent of being struck by lightning with the odds of having this. Initially, I was in shock, numb, and dumbfounded by my diagnosis.”
Knowing the importance of mental health, Adam prioritized behavioral oncology on top of the surgery and infusion treatments. Once at CHC, psychologist Dr. Jeffery Porter was able to help Adam navigate new waters. “I found it helpful to talk about it, exploring it; that’s where I feel Dr. Porter has been helpful.”, said Adam. “No matter how close you are with your friends or family – there are still feelings or emotions that you can’t share with anyone else. Therapy has provided me a safe space.”
Dr. Jeffery Porter is vital to many patients on their journey while at CHC. “One of the ways we support patients is by providing a safe, professional space to talk openly about their illness and the experience of living with a cancer diagnosis.” Said Dr. Jeffery Porter, “This is deeply personal for every patient, and talking through it with the right person can help patients feel more comfortable. It can also lead to identifying treatments and resources that patients can use to improve their emotional health, which is an important dimension of quality of life.”
Coming up on a year after receiving his diagnosis, Adam has many words of wisdom to lend to other patients and their families. “People want to ask the questions of why, but cancer shows up where it wants; it doesn’t discriminate.”, said Adam. “I look at my diagnosis with acceptance. I’m lucky in the sense that I have more time. It could have been a stroke or car accident, but I’m still here. I still have time. Let’s make of it what we can, not focus on what could be and what will be.”
Growing up, Adam was both academic and athletic. He enjoyed learning and felt that ultimately led him to practice medicine. Entering his “early retirement,” he can now be home more with his family, living for the simple pleasures of packing his son’s lunch, enjoying a cup of coffee on a peaceful morning with his wife, picking up the kids from school, cooking his favorite meal, reading a bedtime story or playing his favorite board game. An avid board gamer collector, his large assortment includes the classics paired with traditional, competitive, and designer board games.
A message Adam hopes to share with others on a similar path, “There is no right or wrong way to do this.” Adam states, “Many people have opinions or preconceived notions of what they expect of themselves or others. Whatever you’re going through is a deeply personal journey that will have many twists and turns. The only way is your way.”
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