Girl's fight with cancer inspires Congress - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Girl's fight with cancer inspires Congress

(CNN) - 10-year-old Gabriella Miller may have lost her cancer battle, but her fight for cancer research carries on.

Everywhere Gabriella went following her brain cancer diagnosis, she brought a frying pan to smash a walnut. Even at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It started when Gabriella's father broke the news to his young daughter  that she had a brain tumor. "They told us it was the size of a walnut, so we would take, every night, take a few walnuts outside, and give them a good whack with a frying pan," recalls Mark Miller.

She became a warrior against cancer, hers and others'. "It's not fair just because we're smaller just because we don't know as much doesn't mean we're not important," said Gabriella in an October interview on, which describes itself as an "Emmy Award-winning grass-roots documentary film and social media campaign that gives a voice to all children fighting all forms of cancer."

The Millers quickly learned how little was available for kids with cancer. "Gabriella questioned, all the time, why they don't have a real drug that will help us kids?" says Gabriella's mother, Ellyn.

Less than 4% of $5 billion in cancer research goes to childhood cancers. "One of my fears is that more really young children are going to die," Gabriella said in that heartbreaking October interview.

Watching her in the videos, she almost seemed like an old soul. "We've heard that a lot. Yeah, she-- she got it. She understood," says Mark Miller.

"Once you get cancer you kind of have to be all grown up," said Gabriella, "and you don't really have a childhood."

But Gabriella embraced activism, in speeches and online videos, with a simple message to politicians: Stop talking and start doing.

6 weeks ago, Gabriella lost her 11-month battle with cancer. But her message got through. Republican Greg Harper and Democrat Peter Welch want to take $126 million federal dollars over 10 years set aside for political conventions, to direct it to pediatric research.

After meeting her parents, Republican House Majority leader Eric Cantor named the bill after Gabriella Miller.

It's pretty rare to name a piece of legislation after a person, but Cantor says "It could be a really inspiring story for so many people instead of spending money on political conventions for the political parties, shouldn't we have as our priority medical research for kids?" 

Still, it's not without controversy.

"This bill of Leader Cantor is an absolute fraud," says Rep. Nita Lowey, (D), a ranking member if the Senate Appropriations Committee. Lowey and other senior Democrats oppose this as a publicity stunt to paper over billions in cuts to cancer research. "As a mother and a grandmother, my heart goes out to Gabriella's mother. Bring back the 1.55 billion dollars that they cut from the National Institutes of Health."

Cantor vows to work on that and the Democratic sponsor says he, too, wants billions reinvested, but you've got to start somewhere. "Can we just put the battle axes down for a while and take a step forward?" asks Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont. "I think we can."

In the spirit of this from little Gabriella: "If I lose my battle then I want other people to carry on the war, and we're going to win this war.  I'll be in a good place and it won't be all that bad."

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