So, this has been a rough month. My only brother, and indeed my best friend in the world for all but the first two years of my entire life was suddenly taken from us. Cancer sucks, people. It came out of nowhere and took him in just one month from the date of his diagnosis. One of the cruelest jokes in the universe is an oncologist getting the very disease he has dedicated his life to battling.
After his passing, I decided to Google and see if I could find where others had mentioned him, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this video clip on YouTube from last year describing his new practice at St. Thomas Medical Center in Nashville. It’s nice to see him and hear his voice.
One moment we shared sticks out for me. I was trying to make sense of this diagnosis, and asked Mike:
“So, you’re telling me this was just a crappy roll of the dice? You just rolled a natural 1 on a saving throw vs. cancer?”
“Yeah, pretty much. Sometimes, you just get a crappy roll.”
This exchange demonstrates a little-known fact: Mike was a sci-fi and fantasy geek like me, but his later professional life and fatherhood made it harder to keep up with it all. Despite this, we always made time to see the latest comic book movies together. Regretfully, we never did get to see Avengers: Age of Ultron as we planned. I still haven’t seen it, but I will when I’m ready. Mike would want me to see it and would want to know what I thought about the film.
His loving wife Ashley wrote his obituary, which I think captured his spirit well:
Michael Robert Milam, MD, age 41, passed away peacefully from stage 4 gastric cancer in the company of friends and family on June 3, 2015 at Alive Hospice in Nashville, TN.
Michael was born in Philadelphia, PA on November 19, 1973. Charismatic and driven, he grew up in Oshkosh, WI, where he made many friends, was elected student congress president, and excelled on the Oshkosh North High School wrestling team. While earning his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, he was involved in the athletic program as a cheerleader, mascot, and athletic trainer. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Michael completed an internship in obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis, a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University, and a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of Texas-M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Michael served as assistant professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of Louisville from 2009 to 2012 and practiced at the Norton Cancer Institute in Louisville, KY from 2012 to 2014. In 2014, he moved to Nashville, TN to establish Saint Thomas Gynecologic Oncology Specialists and to serve as a clinical and research mentor to resident physicians from Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee.
In all the stages of his life, Mike was a leader who drew people to him and inspired others to perform to the best of their ability. He loved his family and was a tireless advocate for his cancer patients. He endured terminal illness with bravery and composure and his trademark sense of humor, unwavering in his devotion to friends, family, and his work.
Survivors include his loving wife of 14 years, Ashley Milam, and children, Jack (9) and Ben (6) of Nashville; parents, Dr. Robert and Carolyn Milam of Hopkinsville, KY; brother, Charles Milam of Hopkinsville, KY; aunt and uncle Helen and William Newton of Shepherdsville, KY; aunt Shirley Milam of Shepherdsville, KY; aunt Jane Milam of Paris, KY; mother-in-law Donna Lile of Nashville; sister-in-law Joanna Lile of Lexington, KY; and twelve cousins.
The family will receive friends on Friday June 12 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Woodmont Baptist Church in Nashville and on Saturday June 13 beginning at 12:30 pm. A celebration of Michael’s life will be conducted immediately following at 2:00 pm.
In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations to the Foundation for Women’s Cancer (in honor of Mike’s profession) or to Alive Hospice of Nashville.