WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A Holliday High School graduate and now MSU student is getting ready for a rare and life-altering surgery.

Nearly five years ago, Mia Miller had a Whipple Procedure to remove parts of her pancreas and other organs after doctors found a baseball-sized tumor.

Despite everything, Miller remains incredibly positive but said she appreciates continued prayers as she prepares for another extensive surgery on November 20, 2023.

She loves kids and knows she wants to be a teacher.

“I’ve just always grown up watching kids and being around kids, and I just adore them, and so I’m really excited to be an education major,” Miller said.

She will make a fantastic teacher someday, but first, she’ll have to go through something no college student should. In fact, Miller has already been through a lot in her 19 years.

She was 14 when they found that baseball-sized tumor.

“It was by the grace of God that they found it,” Miller said. “They took part of my pancreas cause it was laying on my pancreas, they took part of my small intestines, part of my large intestines, the bottom of my stomach, and they had to get like clean margins around, and then they have to reroute everything to make sure that your stomach can flow the way that it’s supposed to.”

In late March 2023, Miller got very sick.

It had been a little over four years since the Whipple Procedure she had done when she was in high school.

“The day before, I felt perfectly fine; nothing was wrong,” Miller said. “I didn’t feel sick at all, and then I woke up one morning and felt like I had the stomach bug; I couldn’t stop throwing up. I threw up like 27 times that day, I think. I couldn’t get off the bathroom floor. I was so sick.”

After seeing the doctor and then ending up in the emergency department, doctors discovered she had a bad case of Pancreatitis.

Miller was in and out of the hospital many times with multiple bouts of it, along with pneumonia and other illnesses at one point.

Eventually, her doctor in Dallas decided something had to give.

“Their rule of thumb with pancreatitis is if you have it once, you may never have it again, but if you have it twice, you will have it again, so once it kept reoccurring, he was like, OK, this is something we need to, this isn’t a one-time thing, we need to get it figured out,” Miller said. “He told us that if his daughter were going through the same thing, he would send her to this doctor in South Carolina, who we’re going to, and so my parents were like, ‘OK, say less.”

Miller headed to the Medical University of South Carolina for a Total Pancreatectomy with Islet Cell Auto-transplant (TPIAT). She is also a part of a randomized research study there.

“They take the bone marrow, and then they take the islets out of your pancreas, and they spin them, I think is kinda how they explained it, and the bone marrow is supposed to protect the islets,” Miller said. “Then they infuse them, they put like a tube into your stomach, into your liver, and it’s supposed to infuse them into your liver, and then your liver will start creating insulin for you.”

Without that part of the procedure, Miller would most likely become diabetic, but doctors are hopeful this will be the answer.

“They said there’s a chance I won’t be diabetic at all, and I won’t need any insulin,” Miller said.

Miller hasn’t been able to eat in weeks and has a PICC line IV that gives her nutrients.

“It’s a direct line to your heart,” Miller said. “It’s 14 hours on, 10 hours off.”

Therefore, she said if she does require diabetes care, she’s prepared to handle it.

“The TPN [Total parenteral nutrition] that I’m on has been causing me to have low blood sugar, and so I have the Dexcom on me, and it can send me alerts on my phone and stuff, so I already have that routine down,” Miller said.

Miller’s faith is stronger than the trials she’s faced, and she said she’s ready for the next one.

“I’m not nervous like at all; I think I’m just so ready, and I just know that this is the Lord’s plan for me, and I think that after the surgery, I’m going to feel so much better,” Miller said. “The way that I look at it is if you have a bad attitude, it fixes absolutely nothing.”

Miller will carry that positive attitude and her faith, into surgery. Then, very soon, into her own classroom as a teacher.

Miller’s surgery is on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023.

She will be on a ventilator for about 48 hours and then recover in the hospital for some time after that.

She said she’s so thankful for all of the support and prayers she has received.

If you’d like to help, she asks for continued prayers.

There is a GoFundMe set up for the family as well.