Paul and Jessica's Story

Paul and Jessica's Story

Miss Canada North America 2013 honours her father by supporting brain tumour cause

When Jessica Laing was 14-years-old, her father Paul Miller was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Today, as MISS CANADA NORTH AMERICA® 2013, she is lending her voice to the cause of action and awareness about brain tumours. Supporting the annual Brampton Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk) for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is one way she hopes to create an impact.

For Jessica, her father and their family, the journey with a brain tumour began with Paul experiencing small behavioural changes. He also complained of recurring headaches with a “shaking” feeling as if something was loose behind his forehead when he coughed. Eventually their family doctor referred Paul for an X-ray and a CT scan that diagnosed a grapefruit-sized meningioma brain tumour in his frontal lobe. Today, Jessica can look back at pictures and see that her father’s skull had grown upwards in the front where the tumour was exerting pressure to accommodate the growth.

On May 20, 1999, 53-year-old Paul’s non-malignant brain tumour was removed in an eight-and-a-half hour surgery that could have been fatal or left him paralyzed. Paul survived and has regained mobility with very minor disabilities after several months of rehabilitation.

“I was 14 at the time of his surgery and at that age, you don’t really believe you can lose someone that close to you,” Jessica explains. “I am truly blessed to still have my father here with me, as I am a typical ‘daddy’s little girl’. I really don’t know where I would be without him.”

Following his surgery, Paul began attending Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada support group meetings in Mississauga. It was through this group that he learned about the first Brampton Spring Sprint event happening in 2001. The family has participated in this community event every year since. This year, Team Miller & Friendz is back raising funds and having fun in support of a cure and to spread awareness of this cause. The Brampton event was the inspiration of David Bloom, a very talented singer and actor who passed away from a brain tumour at age 19.

When Jessica speaks about the issue of brain tumours and how people can become involved, she notes that the disease has changed her family, but also how it has had some positive effects too. “My father is a go-getter and his motivation to participate in Spring Sprint is to celebrate the fact that he can walk and uses his mobility to give back,” Jessica declares. “I personally invite others to come share a day that means so much to my family, and so many others in the Brampton community. We aren’t alone in this fight.”

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Shared in March 2012

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