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Event to benefit teen diagnosed with lymphoma

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Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2019 8:32 am

When Bhodey Miller was diagnosed with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he was forced to confront the meaning of every moment, the fragility of the human spirit and the grueling ordeal of chemotherapy.

Bhodey Miller is 13 years old.

And this Friday night, Basement Brewers of Texas on Clay Street will host a fundraiser starting at 5 p.m. for his family’s medical and travel expenses related to Bhodey’s care.

“He’s a funny, witty kid that you can’t help but love,” said his mother, Tish Miller, a social studies teacher at B.T. Wilson Sixth Grade School. “He’s a good friend and a stand-up guy.”

Bhodey’s journey began when the Hal Peterson Middle School student had his tonsils removed the summer of 2017 and some concerns were raised, said his father, Kiley Miller, a chemistry professor and HSI STEM grant director at Schreiner University.

Bhodey is the couple’s middle child, and he has an older sister, Phoenix, a 15-year-old sophomore at Tivy High School, and brother Dylan, 10, a fourth-grader at Tom Daniels Elementary School.

A pathology report was done at the time, but it was inconclusive, and the recommendation to the family’s ENT was to continue to monitor Bhodey.

Less than a year later, one of his lymph nodes began to increase in size, and it was removed Aug. 20 — the second day of school, said Kiley Miller.

That lymph node was sent off for review by pathologists, and Bhodey was diagnosed Nov. 7 with nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma — an exceedingly rare diagnosis.

According to the U.K.-based charity Lymphoma Action, only about 1 in 20 cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma worldwide are this particular type.

The prognosis is hopeful for Bhodey: In a 2007 report by the Children’s Cancer and Leukemia Group, the clinical outcomes and follow-up records of 42 children with the condition were reviewed retrospectively.

All 42 patients achieved complete remission.

“Bhodey struggled when the Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis first sunk in,” said his mother. “He found out he made the basketball team and had cancer the same week. He was devastated … (but) once he had a chance to process it, he was ready to do what needed to be done to get healthy.”

Bhodey began his first round of chemotherapy just after Thanksgiving, and Jan. 3 started his second dose of his second round, said his father.

Bhodey — whose favorite things are soccer, basketball and spending time with friends and family — said the experience has been pretty stressful.

“It changed the way I think about things,” he said. “It made me not want to waste my time and not take anything for granted.”

Bhodey added that he thinks it’s “really awesome” that people want to help him get through a tough few months.

Basement Brewers co-founder and brewer Jon Chancellor said he was happy to co-host the fundraising event at Basement Brewers of Texas, as he’s grateful for Kiley Miller’s friendship.

“Kiley took time to teach brewing to a couple of us early in our craft,” he said.

He noted that head brewer Doug Landrum told him about Bhodey’s diagnosis, and they wanted to do something to help.

“We have a unique opportunity as a family-friendly venue, and it was a natural choice for me to present the offer to Kiley,” Chancellor said.

Chancellor said he, Kiley Miller and another friend, Chris Distel, brainstormed and decided to brew a special beer for the occasion.

It’s a mild brew called “Bhodey Bock,” Chancellor said.

And a second batch brewed for the event contains a unique fermentable: breakfast cereal.

“I wanted to add Bhodey’s favorite cereal to a Bock mash to make a second batch, so there (will also be) Bhodey Bock with Honey Nut Cheerios, which is amazing,” Chancellor said.

Local Tim Rye will donate various food items, such as pulled pork and sausage, which will be for sale at the event, Distel said.

A family friend of the Millers, Derek Meier, donated one of the beer kits used to make the Bhodey Bock.

All proceeds from the sale of food and the special brew at Friday’s event — as well as half of the proceeds from all other drinks sold that evening — will go to the Millers to help with travel, lodging, food and medical costs of Bhodey’s treatment in San Antonio, Chancellor said.

“(I see it as) an opportunity to help another in need, especially a family that has been so giving to the community,” he added. “There will be good food, fellowship.”

For those unable to attend the event, Distel and his wife, Sarah Hammond-Distel, set up a GoFundMe for the family, where those interested can donate to Bhodey’s care at www.gofundme.com/bhodeystrong.

According to Kiley Miller, Distel and Hammond-Distel have been instrumental in orchestrating a meal train to bring them meals and brainstorming other ways to help.

“The (brewery) benefit is the least we can do and less than we want to do,” said Hammond-Distel, associate producer for Children’s Theater Playhouse 2000 in Kerrville. “We would give anything to make the reality of his illness go away, and since we cannot, we will assist and support (the family) however we are able for as long as they need.”

Danielle Alonzo, a teacher at B.T. Wilson with Tish Miller, also created T-shirts to sell and donate the proceeds to the Millers, and the Distels have helped promote that initiative.

Bhodey’s American Youth Soccer Organization United soccer team — coached by his father — will host a fundraising tournament on Feb. 2, the brainchild of another coach, Carlos Cisneros.

Distel said he and his wife have attempted to take as much off the Millers’ plate as possible.

It’s not surprising how much interest the community has had in the brewery event, Distel said.

“Kylie and Tish (Miller) are such major players in the community — they volunteer for so many things, and they’ve given back to the community,” he said. “They’ve had major roles in education and soccer and charity balls and theater — they’ve had their fingers in a lot of pies and been behind-the-scenes volunteers for so much.”

Hammond-Distel said Bhodey is a wonderful kid who has approached his disease with bravery and humor.

“He deserves, as do all children, all the care that is possible for him while he travels this path,” she said. “He did not choose it. He did nothing to earn it. Yet he still has to face it. All we can do is make sure he knows that we love him and that he will never have to be alone — and neither will his parents, grandparents or his siblings.”

Kiley Miller said that the community efforts to help his family have amazed him.

“We had a choice,” he said, choking up a little. “I went to Schreiner as an undergraduate. I met Tish here in Kerrville. I went away and got my master’s at UT-Austin and Ph.D. at M.I.T., so we had a choice. We’d wanted to raise our kids in Kerrville.”

But they considered remaining in Massachusetts, he said.

“We could have lived a completely different life if we hadn’t come back to Kerrville and raised our kids, and I don’t think we ever realized what kind of community we were going to be surrounded by, and it’s just amazing that they would rally around us to support us in this capacity,” he said.

Bhodey said that if there’s one important lesson he has learned throughout his journey, it’s this:

“Don’t take life for granted, because it can change quickly,” he said.

For more information, check out the Facebook page, “Bhodey Strong at Basement Brewers of Texas.”

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