Friends seek to help family of young leukemia patient

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Members of the Sweet Home community are coming together to help out the Chester and Kerri Miller family as their son battles a rare strain of leukemia.

A garage sale will be held Friday, July 18, at Little Promises to raise cash to help the family.

Cooper Miller, 5, has been diagnosed with JMML leukemia and has been at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland since early June.

“We all noticed that he just didn’t have any energy,” said Anita Hutchins, owner of Little Promises, where Cooper attended. “He was lethargic and couldn’t get over this cough.”

His parents took him to the doctor and were immediately sent to Doernbecher.

It took a couple of weeks to diagnose the rare form of leukemia, Hutchins said. “He has a virus in addition to the leukemia.”

Cooper has been on life support for a week and a half, Hutchins said. “He is slowly improving. His little lungs weren’t working. Slowly, they’re beginning to inflate.”

The Millers have insurance that will cover most of the treatment, Hutchins said, “but the expenses above that are so astronomical.”

She said she and others are trying to raise money to help out with fuel during a time where neither can work. It’s still a huge financial burden, and Hutchins wants to help any way she can.

The ladies from the Mennonite Bible School and the Little Promises staff were talking about the problem and decided to help out.

The community has been rallying behind their effort with donations, Hutchins said. “Once again, the town is coming to the rescue.”

The garage sale begins at 9 a.m. in the Little Promises gymnasium. Other fund-raising efforts include donation cans set out at business throughout town, including Sunshine Espresso and Buzz’d.

Hutchins and her family have been through similar circumstances in the mid 1990s with her grandson, the late Cody Hutchins. With their experiences and knowledge, the family can be there for the Millers.

“We definitely want to be there,” Hutchins said, and “the Sweet Home community is rallying around one of their own again.

The treatments and transplant operations that were experimental more than a decade ago are now standard, Hutchins said, and Cooper’s 2-year-old brother is a likely donor for a bone marrow transplant once Cooper heads into remission.

For more information or to donate, call Hutchins at Little Promises at 367-4350.

“We covet people’s prayers for Cooper,” Hutchins said.