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Eric Peterson, Published February 14 2012

Peterson: Cobbers to play for ex-player battling cancer

Moorhead - Leanne Miller recalled “intense fear” and “shock” permeated her thoughts on the morning of Oct. 11. That’s the day a doctor told Miller she had breast cancer.

She was 26 and pregnant with her first child.

“There were no words at that point,” Miller said Tuesday. “My husband and I just sat there and looked at each other like, ‘Did he really just say that? Is that true?’ ”

Miller, whose maiden name is White, played basketball at Concordia for four seasons, a career that ended in 2007.

The Cobbers are hosting their annual Cancer Awareness/Think Pink game at 5:45 p.m. today at Memorial Auditorium.

The game is dedicated to Miller. Proceeds from the event are going to Miller and her family.

“To know that I have that support and I have so many people on my side praying for me and fighting for me … is amazing,” said Miller.

Miller plans to attend tonight’s game with her father, Chris; husband, Ryan Miller; and sister, Aimee, along with in-laws.

Leanne – who found out she was pregnant in July – had a routine pregnancy check in the fall in Alexandria, Minn. She asked the doctor to look at a cyst, which had recently “changed and grown,”

Leanne said. She had an ultrasound and that led to a biopsy.

On Monday, Oct. 10, that evening, Leanne got a call from her doctor who asked her to come in the next morning.

“He just simply sat us down and said, ‘This is cancer,’ ” Leanne said.

“It was one of those things where you kind of look at him and say, ‘I’m 26. I can’t have breast cancer. And I’m pregnant.’ I’ve never heard of it happening to anyone before.”

Leanne, an elementary teacher in Alexandria at the time of the diagnosis, lived in Fergus Falls, Minn., with Ryan, who worked in Fargo.

The couple recently moved to Eden Prairie, Minn., where Leanne’s parents live, to be closer to medical care for Leanne.

Ryan’s employer let him work out of a branch in the Twin Cities area.

“He’s amazing,” Leanne said of her husband. “He has stepped up in more ways than I could explain. I know a lot of 26-year-olds who couldn’t handle this, but he’s continued to be there and do whatever I need.”

Leanne gave birth to Leo Christopher Miller on Jan. 10. He was delivered eight weeks early so Leanne could get the treatment she needed for her cancer.

Leo spent 28 days in the hospital, Leanne said, but came home last week.

“He’s a bright spot in all of this,” Leanne said.

“I had another reason to have joy in my life and to have something to fight for. I have a reason every day to think ‘I’m going to beat this cancer I’m going to show it what’s up,’ because I have to be there for this little guy.”

Leanne said she had four rounds of chemotherapy while she was pregnant.

She recently started chemo again. Leanne has leaned on her faith, family and friends to make it through the difficult times.

When she was diagnosed, Leanne said Cobbers head coach Jessica Rahman sent texts and emails to let Leanne know she had the support of her Concordia family.

“I can do this because God’s going to help me do it. It is a lot. It does get overwhelming,” Leanne said. “My strength comes from God and from having awesome people in my life. We’re going to come out the other side and just be better, all of us.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com