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Goal of Baltimore Ravens chiropractor: raise $100,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Sees need for relentless attitude in search of a cure

By Brian Conlin, bconlin@patuxent.com

8:55 AM EDT, May 30, 2012

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Doug Miller doesn't remember if it was moments, minutes or hours after he learned that he had an advanced stage of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2008 when he determined how he would attack it.

The Catonsville resident adopted the attitude he had as a swimmer at theUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the one he saw among Baltimore Ravens players when he worked on them as the team chiropractor.

Relentless.

"Survival was the only option," Miller said from his chiropractic office on Wilkens Avenue. "I only thought about survival. I became relentless to survive."

After a year of chemotherapy and improving an already healthy lifestyle, the father of three, went into remission in 2009.

If he is cancer-free for the next two years, doctors will consider him cured.

Instead of letting the relentless attitude subside as he has nearly beaten his bout with blood cancer, the Arbutus native has refocused it to help others with his Relentless for a Cure campaign.

His 10-week fundraising frenzy, which began April 4 and ends June 16, aims to collect $100,000 and enable Miller to become the Maryland Man of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Miller serves on the board for the Maryland chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

"I can give back to the people who helped me out," Miller said of his thinking in running for the award. "The people who ran for this award before me raised a lot of money used for research that saved my life."

In the United States, more than 1 million people live with, or are in remission from, leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma or myeloma, according to the website of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer and every 10 minutes someone dies from it, the website stated.

Among children and teenagers under 20 years old, leukemia is the most common cancer and leading cause of death, according to the website of the Centers for Disease Control.

Of the fundraisers that Miller, 46, held in the first seven weeks of the campaign, most involved sports.

The first fundraiser, for example, was tied to the NCAA basketball tournament. Last week, his most recent event was an evening with Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and wide receiver Torrey Smith at Rolling Road Golf Club. Tickets for the May 24 outing cost between $60 and $90, Miller said.

"Let's face it. They're certainly very marketable," Miller said of the Baltimore Ravens, who gave him a six-month leave of absence as he recovered.

"To bring exposure to the charity, to bring exposure to blood cancer, what else can you do except look at the resources available to you?" Miller asked.

Miller declined to state how close he was to his ultimate goal because it could tip off the seven other nominees for Man of the Year.

Miller raised $16,000 in less than a week between his May 19 Preakness party that drew 125 people to his home and the May 24 event with Cameron and Smith.

Last year, the 71 nationwide campaigns for Man of the Year and Woman of the Year raised $14.6 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to use on education, advocacy, research and patient services, said Blair Fogle, the organization's national director.

The Maryland nominees raised $223,129.

While Miller is the face of the campaign, his wife of 18 years, Trish, is the legs, her husband said.

Often Trish Miller finds herself putting away materials at 11 p.m., knowing that she will take them out first thing in the morning.

"I've come to realize that fundraising is a very hard thing to do," Trish Miller said as she rode to Bethany Beach for Memorial Day weekend. "It's taken a whole village of people to make these events happen ... and raise the money we want to raise."

Trish Miller likened the fundraising support received so far to the assistance her family received while her husband was going through treatment for his cancer.

Friends and family, for example, would watch the children or tend to the garden so the couple could focus on survival.

"When your family has the disease and you're involved with the disease, it's a personal fight," Trish Miller said. "Now, it's not just a fight for us. It's a fight for everyone who is affected by cancer or will be affected by cancer."

Trish Miller has even worked to get eight local schools in on the fundraising action.

Catonsville Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary, Westchester Elementary, Catonsville Middle, Our Lady of Victory, St. John's Parish Day and St. Mark schools all have boxes collecting change to benefit the campaign.

The class raising the most money at each school receives a pizza party. The school that raises the most will receive a visit from a Ravens player.

Trish Miller said Hillcrest and St. John's have already raised more than $1,000 each.

Catonsville High School students will enter to win a Joe Flacco mini football helmet the school week ending June 1.

With only a few weeks in their campaign, the Millers still have a few fundraisers remaining.

Trish Miller encouraged people to check their website, http://www.relentlessforacure.com, to learn about upcoming local happy hours that will benefit their fundraising efforts.

Whether the Millers finish short or in excess of their goal, they likely will continue to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

"There are no losers. At the end of the day, you go home and you think, 'I've done all I can to do this,' " Doug Miller said. "We're all winners."

"(This campaign) has definitely opened my eyes to the fact that my efforts for fundraising for this cause are definitely not over," Trish Miller said.