Updated: Sep 24, 2021
By her mother, Courtney Mount
At the age of two, Millie began to lose her cheerful baby countenance and became a whiny, fretful child. She was frequently sick with a mild snotty nose or other childhood illness. We took her to the doctor a few times in the beginning of 2019, but each time, it seemed she was just getting over a little cold. In May we went to the Grand Canyon as a family. Millie had a low-grade fever each evening that would be gone by morning. I called her doctor who said to bring her in when we returned home. We did go to see the doctor, but once again, Millie appeared to be over whatever she had been fighting. The doctor put orders in for a CBC test if she started feeling bad again. The one consistent symptom she had was constipation. We tried laxatives, but she was still in discomfort.
In June of 2019, she climbed up onto the bed holding her stomach and crying about her belly hurting again. We agreed it had gone on long enough. We took her to a local urgent care who sent us to the hospital for an x-ray. The test confirmed that she was still constipated, but while doing an abdominal exam, they found her liver edge to be distended. This called for the CBC test, which confirmed that her liver enzymes were elevated, so we were referred to the children’s hospital in our state.
Two days later after an abdominal ultrasound, we heard the words that only live in every parent’s nightmare, “I’m sorry it looks like Millie has cancer.” We walked out of the hospital that day knowing our baby’s body was riddled with cancer. We had two days to get our life in order before admitting for her first chemo treatment.
On June 20, 2019, Millie was officially diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer that affects the adrenal gland. It had also metastasized to her liver.
Millie endured six rounds of frontline chemo, joined a DFMO/ immunotherapy research group taking nine rounds of that painful procedure. She suffered hearing loss from the chemotherapy. She had a Broviac and a G-tube placed. She suffered a liver bleed from the biopsy. She fought C. diff from the numerous antibiotics she received.
There was so much hard about Millie’s cancer journey, but the hardest part for me was knowing I had to trust the decisions that others made for my child. As her mama, I was used to making the decisions, yet nothing I could do would make her better. No amount of love could cure her.
On top of that, our other kids were struggling to figure out if they were still important to us. They felt like not only had their sister gotten deathly ill, but their parents had abandoned them.
In May of 2020, we prepared for MIBG therapy. Just days before admission, we were told her
cancer was growing too rapidly and MIBG was no longer an option. She received a final round of ICE chemo, which did nothing to slow the tumor growth in her liver. Millie was sent home on hospice and passed away just three weeks later.
We leaned heavily on our faith in Jesus during this whole time. We repeatedly prayed, “Lord Jesus, please heal Millie and allow her to tell of Your goodness with her own lips. But if You choose heavenly healing, we will tell the story for her.” Millie’s story became HIS STORY.
If I could encourage other families in a similar situation, I would tell them to do everything you can, never giving up hope until the last breath. Please know you will have regrets no matter what you choose, but know you chose the best you knew at the time. Lean heavily on Jesus to help you carry this gut-wrenching burden of losing your child.
One of the precious memories I have of Millie is lying in bed one night and hearing her soft little voice from across the room, “Dear Jesus please take away my cancer.” My three-year-old baby was praying for herself to be healed. We might be led to think Jesus didn’t answer her sweet prayer, but He did! He gave her the ultimate healing in heaven. Death is not a punishment to a believer, rather an opportunity to live forever with Him. We rang the bell—the cancer-free bell—at her funeral to signify she had truly beat the wretched beast of cancer.
Millie’s miracle is that a small girl, with a small circle of life, had a huge impact on the world. People watched our family to see if we would truly trust Jesus as we walked through this? They watched to see if He was faithful? They watched to see if they too could live through losing a child? Her miracle was not earthly healing, but a testimony of God’s faithfulness.
In honor of (Amelia Joy Mount) Millie
Nov 11, 2016- July 8, 2020
The Mount Family will be joining us on our annual Sunrise Retreat this month, a bereavement experience offering rest, restoration, hope and joy for families who have lost a child to cancer. In looking ahead to their retreat, mother Courtney shares their hopes for this time: “We know our family needs time to invest in each other. We hope this retreat will be a time of JOY and happiness. A time where our other children can understand that while they lost a sister, their parents are still here loving them and meeting their needs. We hope to have time as a couple to just enjoy each other without the weight of the world upon our shoulders.”
During the month of September, we will be sharing stories written by some of the families who will be attending our Sunrise Retreat this month. We hope you will join us in praying for these families who have endured unimaginable loss, that God will use the week away with their family and Lighthouse volunteers to bring healing and hope.
Our fundraising goal for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is $30,000, because that’s what it takes to put on a Sunrise Retreat. From meals and gifts to Parent’s Night Out, sibling activities and nights of remembrance, every single dollar we receive in September is going to be invested into providing a restorative experience for families who have lost their child to cancer. When it comes to our growing Sunrise Retreat program, more funding means more families served. Whether you can give $1, $100 or $1,000, please join us in honoring the memories of the children we’ve lost by providing support for the families who will never forget them. Visit this page to learn more or donate.