Dave Miller’s pink flat-deck truck surely turns a few heads when it is driven down the street, making it the perfect vehicle to get his message across.
The 47-year-old took the shock of a lung disease diagnosis and turned it into a way to spend more time with his family and raise awareness when he and his stepsons rebuilt his customized family truck.
Miller has worked in the auto industry his entire life, doing everything from body work to mechanical work and the truck has been rebuilt twice.
“It used to be my old Chevy Blazer and then we bought a pickup body and we stripped both trucks down and merged them together,” Miller said.
The truck was given new purpose as a vehicle for cancer awareness this spring when Miller’s family rebuilt it a second time after he received devastating news last fall he had pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic and progressive lung disease where the air sac in the lungs becomes scarred and stiff, making it difficult to breathe and get enough oxygen into the bloodstream. It can lead to increased lung cancer risk.
“I actually had a heart attack in October and that’s when we found out about the prognosis,” Miller said. He said he felt shell-shocked, overwhelmed and scared when he heard the news.
It wasn’t until Christmas and the comfort of being with family during the holiday season that the shock finally wore off and Miller realized he needed to do something with his loved ones to preserve that feeling. He also wanted to spread the knowledge there are people who struggle with life-altering diseases every day.
In January, Miller and his two stepsons stripped the truck down and built it back up over the course of three months, converting it to a flat deck and painting it pink to raise awareness of cancer — a disease Miller is all too familiar with, having lost an aunt and uncle to the same disease he has and his mother to Hodgkin’s disease.
“It was a very hard build because it was so much heart and soul behind it,” Miller said, noting the truck was dedicated to his mom this past Mother’s Day.
He and his wife have eight kids between them marriages and everyone has put in their fair share of elbow grease over the years. But Miller’s two stepsons — Jayden, 18, and Austin,16, who have autism — completed the majority of the work.
Neither one had touched a wrench a day in their life and hadn’t worked together as a team until this project.
Each day, Miller would write a to-do list and they would check it off one by one as they worked together.
“People that say autistic kids can’t achieve their goals. They’re full of crap because the goal is sitting out in the driveway,” Miller said.
Miller can’t work given his condition and lives on disability as the family copes with the ordeal. Doctors have told him there’s not much they can do, so he tries to just take life one day at a time.
“It’s been a long haul,” he said.
On the good days, he gets things done, noting the truck, which has been up and running for about a month, was on display at the Kamloops Street Rod Association’s Chrome on the Grass car show in July and will be at the Hot Nite in the City car show downtown this weekend.
“It’s pretty cool to see that it’s still alive and kicking going around town,” Miller said.
He’s also been collecting signatures of musicians, so far securing those of Me and Mae, Gord Bamford, Jason Benoit and Ben Klick.
“I’m trying to get as many musicians to sign it as part of the awareness,” Miller said. “They’re jumping at the chance.”
Miller said he likes the idea of possibly auctioning off the truck to raise money for cancer awareness.