Millie Hagan's Story
Every once in while, we are blessed by reading about everyday people who are actually flesh & blood hero's in our world, and when the hero is a child, it makes the blessings even more pronounced. The story of Millie Hagan's short life is of one such hero wrapped up in small, young package that left a great legacy of inspiration for us all.
I found out about Millie in a post by MatukaJim when reading at Karma's Kave Message Board, and I was so moved by MatukaJim's description of how this small wonder of a being in a five year old package had touched his life and others, that I wanted to share his moving post, and the story of Millie with others.
There were so many things that inspired me about the story of Millie's life. The coming together of a community with a simple desire ~ to help Millie. How that desire rippled out to help bring needed cash for medical equipment that could save her life and others. The great mystery of how this ripple would not include saving the one person that brought this community together in the first place ~ Millie. And, the most inspiring to me of all ... the timing and peacefulness of her passing. For me, Millie was one of those 'special ones' that come for a short while, and because they come for such a short visit they like to bring gifts for others to remember. To remember not only her and her visit ~ but to also remind us to remember our real potential & purposes as well.
This little girl was a blessing and inspiration for us all, and thank you MatukaJim for sharing this with us.
Sunday, 16-Jul-2000 08:36:42
If you can imagine a five year old girl, with straight shoulder length flaming red hair, a tiny floral dress, and a big cheesy grin, then you have a good idea what Millie Hagan looks like. Always laughing and happy, she is the very opposite of how you would expect a child, with a deadly illness, to appear.
For those of you that don't already know, I live in Canberra Australia. It is actually the capital of our country, but when you compare it to the bigger cities of Sydney and Melbourne, well, our population of 300,000 could fit into one of their suburbs.
Although not a big place in terms of a capital city, what our community lacks in terms of big city atmosphere, it makes up for in community spirit. When we need to band together and support a worthwhile cause we generally give wholeheartedly.
This was illustrated perfectly over the last 6 months when Millie Hagan brought our community together. She needed a piece of equipment that would help her defeat her illness and give her a quality lifestyle. Millie has had this illness since birth, and her parents have been unable to even get close to the $100,000 needed to purchase this equipment. When the government refused to assist in funding, Millie appealed to the public for help.
Millies voice could be heard on radio and her face seen on local television. She was at all the major sporting events and concerts, and it didn’t take long for the community to fall in love with this little girl. Special days were set aside for her, and the phrase “Money for Millie” became a household word.
All over our town people were setting up fund raising events. School children had special “Millie” days were for a few dollars students could come to school out of uniform, sell cakes and do odd jobs around the town, with all the proceeds going towards Millie.
Housewives, househusbands, small business people, public servants, corporations and even the unemployed all gave generously for this worthwhile cause.
What surprised even the main organizers was the fact that although the amount of $100,000 was passed within a few weeks, people still continued to give generously. The equipment that Millie needed would be used by her, and also by any other person needing the treatment. When asked “what will happen to all the extra money?” Millie replied that if it was OK she would like to give it all to the local children's hospital. Only if the people didn’t mind of course.
At the end of the campaign, the total raised by the community was close to $450,000. Coming from a city of only 300,000 people, almost half a million dollars is pretty good going in anyone's language. Millie made another public appearance to thank everyone for their efforts, and it never dawned on her that she had worked harder than anyone else. For a sick child to put in the work she had it was truly remarkable. Her parents made heartfelt and emotional speeches of gratitude, and the whole community had never been closer.
Last week Millie was scheduled to have her operation. The doctors were prepared, the equipment was all ready to function, and the whole town listened for any news as to how her operation went.
Finally news came through, as Millie was entering the hospital, her heart arrested. She never made the operating table. Let me say that again, Millie arrived at the hospital, ready for her operation, and her heart arrested. For a child to get so close to a return to health, and then for this to happen, the community was truly devastated.
For days the radio and television stations played tributes to Millie. All over our town people were telephoning, sending faxes, emails and letters to her family and personalities here, so they could pass on their well wishes. As a community we mourned together. People cried openly, wept and embraced each other as if their own family member had passed over. You see, for a lot of us, that was exactly what Millie had become. She was more than a face on a screen or a voice on the radio, she was everyone's little sister.
For everything Millie went through, she left us with some wonderful legacy’s. None of us will ever forget her smiles and laughter, her seemingly boundless energy, and most of all, her courage.
She was the center of raising half a million dollars for the sick children of our community. We have new equipment to assist in improving these children's standard of living, and that was something Millie always spoke of as well. She was always talking about the other sick kids and how much help they needed. Millie bonded a community like none ever had before her, and she helped us see many things. One person can make a difference.
I would just like to say “thanks Millie”, for all you gave us, and taught us. Anyone who had the pleasure of experiencing you, and what you did for us, has been truly blessed. I would also like to ask for prayers of healing for Millies parents and big brother.
You see, what most of our community didn’t know, was that two years ago Millie had a little brother. He also had a deadly illness, the same one Millie had. Sadly he was taken from this world as well, at only three years of age.
On the radio a few days ago, Millies mother said she thanked the community wholeheartedly and once again thanked us for our support and messages of condolences. She also said that while she was holding Millie on the hospital bed, an overwhelming sense of peace rushed through her, and the last thing she saw Millie do, was smile. Millies mother put it the best, when she said….. “ My son, that went to heaven was there that day, I felt it in my heart. He was sitting with us all, comforting us, then took Millie by the hand, and showed her the way home. The feeling of peace I had, was not like anything I had ever felt before……”
Millie Hagan R.I.P darlin’
Canberra Times Articles
Millie's short life to leave a long legacy
By MONIKA BOOGS
Friday, 30 June, 2000
Millie Hagan, the five-year-old girl who Canberrans took to their hearts, died yesterday morning just hours before she was to undergo her second bone-marrow transplant.
Millie died at 8am from a cardiac arrest at the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick.
But the girl, who was the centre of the Money for Millie Appeal, has left a lasting legacy.
The appeal, which had a target of $110,000, raised $457,348, making it possible to buy the Miltenyi machine; new technology which gave Millie a chance to survive her rare life-threatening immune deficiency as it does not need a perfect bone-marrow match.
Breakfast announcer with FM104.7 Erica Hodge, who was involved with the appeal, said it was through Millie that the community bonded together to raise the money.
''And now we have this machine that can save lives,'' she said.
Erica said that while Millie's death was devastating maybe her purpose was to be a cheeky, happy little girl who raised a lot of money to buy the Miltenyi machine.
The Rivett girl, who suffered from Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency, had been in Sydney since June 12 preparing for the operation.
Her parents David and Jane and her older brother Harley had been in Sydney with her.
Millie had a bone-marrow transplant in 1997 which failed. Her brother Jack, who also suffered from the deficiency, died when he was three. Most victims with the disease die in childhood.
Erica said the extra money raised by the appeal, run by FM104.7 and the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group, had gone to the group.
She said Millie's legacy would continue as the money would help other children throughout the ACT and region who had cancer.
Canberra Raiders back-rower David Furner said that while it was extremely sad about Millie, it was through her that the community had raised the money to buy the machine which would help other children with cancer.
Furner said it was sad that Millie didn't get to use the machine.
''Everyone is just in shock,'' he said.
''It is just so sad for Millie. She's obviously touched a lot of people.''
ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group founder Yvonne Cuschieri spoke to Mrs Hagan yesterday morning.
''They are devastated and couldn't talk,'' she said.
Erica said she and Marty Haynes, who was also involved in the appeal, were in shock.
Although they were positive about the transplant, they had been preparing themselves that something could have happened in the long term.
''We never imagined that there would be a twist so cruel to go on the morning of the transplant,'' she said.
David Hagan spoke to the breakfast team at 7.15am yesterday.
Erica said he spoke about Millie and how she was saying that the chemotherapy which had finished on Wednesday at 2pm had knocked her about and she was retaining fluid.
She said the family had to wait 24 hours until 2pm yesterday for the transplant to be carried out.
Erica, Marty, Furner and members of the support group were to fly to Sydney yesterday morning to visit and present Millie with the machine before the afternoon transplant.
Erica said Millie had been in isolation in the transplant unit for more than a week receiving radiation therapy.
''Doctors had said that Millie had to have the bone-marrow transplant by June this year or she would not make it,'' she said.
Mrs Cuschieri said members of the cancer support group and the whole community were devastated by Millie's death.
''The community at large is in shock because they were involved in this,'' she said.
Mrs Cuschieri said Millie was a very positive and very brave little girl.
''It never entered her mind that she was never going to make it,'' she said.
The Canberra community inundated the radio station with flowers, e-mails and phone calls offering their condolences.
''Marty and I have been getting flowers,'' Erica said.
Erica said the radio station was encouraging people who wanted to send flowers to the family to send a single pink rosebud to the funeral.
An outpouring of grief as Millie's family comes home
By MONIKA BOOGS
Saturday, 1 July, 2000
Millie Hagan's death has received an overwhelming response from Canberrans as her parents David and Jane and older brother Harley returned home from Sydney yesterday.
Mr Hagan said the family was devastated by Millie's death.
''She was having a hard time but not anything more than you would expect with a bone-marrow transplant,'' he said.
Mr Hagan said there was a build up of toxicity in Millie's brain and at 7.39am she had a cardiac arrest.
''She was holding my hand at the time,'' he said.
Mr Hagan said the doctors did everything they could but at 8.05pm she was pronounced dead.
He said it was unexpected because Millie was doing ''par for the course''.
''It caught us all unaware,'' he said.
Mr Hagan said the response from the Canberra community had been ''touching''.
''We did not realise that she'd made such an impact,'' he said.
''It is nice that everyone thought she was nice.''
Mr Hagan said details for Millie's funeral had not yet been finalised but it was likely to be held on Wednesday.
FM104.7 breakfast announcer, Erica Hodge, who was involved in the Money for Millie Appeal to raise money for the machine for the transplant operation, said phone calls from the community to the radio station started early yesterday morning.
The station, which helped to run the appeal along with the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group, paid tribute to Millie in yesterday's breakfast show.
''The phones rang non-stop from 5.30am and were still going at 9am,'' she said.
''The phone lines were just jammed.''
Erica said she had received 152 e-mails by yesterday morning from members of the Canberra community offering their support and condolences to Millie's family. Breakfast announcer Marty Haynes had also been swamped with e-mails.
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