HOLLY RIDGE | As a Holly Ridge boy fights a brain cancer diagnosis from across the country, friends and family are working to make sure the family gets a true homecoming when they return to North Carolina.
Eight-year-old Perryn Miller began treatment this week in Utah after being diagnosed with stage four Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive and terminal form of cancer, said family friend Rebekah Logan, who has helped organize efforts to help the family.
Logan, who has set up a Go Fund Me page to raise funds, said the Millers are dealing with the “unimaginable” after already being displaced from their home due to damage from Hurricane Florence.
Due to extensive wind and water damage, the Millers’ roof had to be replaced and the house stripped of its walls and flooring and most of their belongings.
Logan said there is a contractor now working on their house with the goal of having repairs completed by the time the Millers return to North Carolina; however, they still need the furniture and items to go in it.
“My goal is for them to be able to come home and walk through the front door and not have to worry about the house,” she said.
Jacob, a medically retired Marine Raider, his wife, Jaimee, Perryn and his younger brother, Rayner, have been living with Jaimee’s mother in Hampstead and traveled to Utah to see extended family over the Christmas break.
Perryn had been having headaches but after checking with doctors the Millers had no idea what was to come until they got to Utah and Perryn’s headaches became worse and his parents took him to an emergency room.
They then learned Perryn had a brain tumor and needed emergency surgery to remove it.
Logan said the Millers plan to stay in Utah for about six to eight weeks while Perryn goes through a first round of treatment.
“They decided to stay there for the first treatment and have kind of put their life on hold to focus on Perryn,” she said.
Returning to a hurricane-damaged home is the last thing the Millers should worry about. And now they have medical and travel and living expenses to take care of, Logan said.
Logan said her initial goal with the Go Fund Me page was $5,000 and the response has far exceeded what she expected.
“I thought $5,000 was pretty high and we reached that after the first day and a half. Now we’re close to $50,000,” Logan said.
Logan said the support they have received has been tremendous.
There was national attention recently when a former truck driver from Virginia heard about Perryn’s story and agreed to pick up Frank, the family’s 8-month-old German Shepard, which was still in North Carolina, and drive him to Utah to be with Perryn.
Perryn, who has said he wants to be a police officer, was also made officer of the day by a Utah police department.
Perryn, a third grader at Coastal Preparatory Academy, has also received much support from his school and community, Logan said.
“Perryn has a lot of people who love him,” Logan said.
Donations can be made via gofundme.com and the page Help for the Miller family and their hero Perryn.
Upcoming fundraisers include a pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Feb. 16 at Highway 55 in Hampstead and a BBQ plate fundraiser hosted by Smoking Shields North Carolina Feb. 23 at the Hampstead Annex Building.
Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.