Coaches vs. Cancer celebrates 'Heroes of Hope'

PLYMOUTH — Cancer is a scary word with an even scarier impact on people’s lives.

Fighting cancer takes dedication — and that’s just what Becky Milliser has done: fought cancer alongside her loved ones.

The diagnosis of cancer to her mother and husband didn’t deter her; it only gave her strength and motivation by devoting her time and efforts to volunteer work with the American Cancer Society.

The Plymouth resident was recently honored with the dedication award at the Coaches vs. Cancer “Night of the Stars” program in South Bend.

The reception — held at the home of one of the area’s leading oncologists — honors “Heroes of Hope” in the community who were nominated and selected by a committee. Along with Milliser, honorees this year were: Ken Dutton, Inspiration Award; David Hornback, Hope Award and Dr. Rafat Ansari, Dr. Juan Garcia Lifetime Achievement Award.

The special event celebrates the human spirit, says Mike and Trish Brey, honorary co-chairs. “Our honorees are the perfect example of the courage, love, commitment and compassion that are needed to fully live,” they said.

Milliser was nominated among several nominees, for what she has done to make an impact on the fight against cancer in her community, said Karen Vandoski of the American Cancer Society.

“Becky is truly an amazing and gifted volunteer for all that she does,” Trisha Metz, also of the ACS said.

Instead of choosing not to volunteer after losing her mother, Metz said, Becky asked to volunteer even more.

“She strives to do as much as possible to make a difference in somebody’s life while helping to save lives,” she said. “There is no limit as to what Becky does and will do in the fight against cancer.”

Miliser is an active volunteer for Marshall County Relay for Life and is a committee member. In 2008, her fundraising team she formed in honor of her mother out-raised the long-standing first place team, despite starting the campaign with less than two months to go.

This proved her strong will, Metz said.

Milliser lost her mother to both colon and lung cancer in 2010, and her husband is undergoing treatment for tonsil cancer.

Milliser said she started volunteering after her mom was diagnosed with cancer because it was a way for her to do something more for her.

“My motivation comes from watching my mother and husband go through their treatments and seeing the devastating effects it has on a person,” she said. “It makes me want to work harder to get the word out about how important it is for other people to get involved and helping to find a cure.”

The Night of the Stars event is one of many surrounding the Coaches vs. Cancer program, championed by the Breys and the University of Notre Dame.