Peter and Angela Miller are selling their local business, Miller’s Pharmacy, to focus on their family and Peter’s health.
Local pharmacist Peter said he’s feeling pretty sad about selling the pharmacy. “It’s sort of being forced on us a little bit from our personal situation so it’s very sad, really,” he said.
“We’ve obviously had a lot of our major life events happen here – we got married here, bought our first house here, had our kids here so they’ve been brought up here.”
The 52-year-old received a colorectal cancer diagnosis in April this year after a routine bowel scan. Peter said he had some family history of bowel cancer but had no major symptoms.
“It was only because I had a family history and a little bit of encouragement from the GPs,” he said. “I thought oh I’ll just get a scan just to make sure, and of course there you go.”
Peter said it was lucky he did as it was just in time, and it was a complete surprise when he got rushed off for treatment.
He will likely have surgery early next year after finishing up a course of chemoradiation last week.
This is the Millers’ second health battle in recent years after Peter’s wife and business partner, Angela, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Angela, 47, said she’s always telling her friends to get screened regularly
“I wasn’t particularly old when I was diagnosed,” she said. “So just telling everyone to get screened, it’s very important to stay on top of your health.”
There’s been a lot of people not getting tested regularly because they didn’t want to go to a hospital during the pandemic Peter added.
Peter said they got through Angela’s cancer and now are dealing with his own.
“It’s has become too stressful trying to manage the business when we cannot be here, which is the reason we decided to sell,” he said.
“It takes a lot of time and effort to run the pharmacy, which we just don’t have at the moment.”
A second-generation pharmacist, Peter initially ran Miller’s Pharmacy with his father but eventually he and Angela bought him out.
The pair initially met at university while studying pharmacy but didn’t become a couple until they coincidentally began working at the same hospital in London before getting married in 2005.
The family of four moved to Canberra earlier this year to be closer to the girls’ schools and Peter’s medical appointments.
Peter said he’s going to miss the people and community the most after the sale.
“Obviously, after we’ve been here for this long, customers become friends,” he said. “We have a lot of people who came in as children, and now they’re coming in with their children.”
“The other thing we’ll miss is our staff, we’ve had incredible staff over the years.”
In particular, they wished to thank right-hand woman and long-time pharmacy manager, Fiona, who worked with the couple for 14 years but recently moved to the coast and has been returning to help the pair out.
Angela said good staff were integral to running the pharmacy.
“We operate a service-driven model, and you can’t serve everyone yourself,” she said. “If your staff aren’t good, then your business is no good.”
“They’ve been integral and we will really miss our staff.”
But Peter said he won’t miss the admin that comes along with pharmacy work and looks forward to spending more time with his two daughters who at 13 and 15 years old have plenty of extracurriculars to attend.
Meanwhile, Angela said she’s feeling some mixed emotions upon selling the pharmacy.
“It’s been such a big part of our life for a long time, and we’ve absolutely loved every minute of it,” she said.
But they just have to focus on getting Peter over this health hurdle she said.
“It’s very sad, because we’ve got absolutely beautiful customers and it’s been wonderful.”
Peter said working at a regional pharmacy was much more professionally rewarding because you can achieve more and you get to see the outcomes.
Peter and Angela both spent some time working in metropolitan pharmacies but say there is a big difference compared to working in a regional setting.
“All pharmacists come out with the same skill set when you start,” he said. “But really your ability to sort of communicate well and get involved with the community and your customers is a big thing about regional [pharmacy work].”
Angela said working at a regional pharmacy provided more job satisfaction.
“In metropolitan, you don’t really know a lot of your customers and they’re transient,” she said. “Whereas in the country you really get to know them because they’re your regulars and it’s so much more rewarding.”
Pete said from a professional standpoint there’s a broader spectrum of practice because in regional pharmacies staff have to cover everything.
Angela added that their kids were devastated at the news of the sale, but they can visit family in Brisbane over Christmas for the first time in nearly 18 years.
“I’ve missed my dad’s 80th, my sister’s 50th, and my brother’s 40th this year,” she said. “It’ll be very exciting to spend that time with them.”
Peter said the Christmas period is usually their biggest time of year, so they were going to enjoy the novelty of not having to work over the holidays.
Miller’s Pharmacy will likely officially change hands on December 17. The date was pushed back due to delays with official licences and the complicated nature of selling a pharmacy.
The Miller family is having a farewell tea on Friday, December 3 at 10am to say goodbye to customers, friends and current and past staff.
“It’s an opportunity to say a bit of a farewell and thank you to all our customers,” Peter said.
By Brianna O’Rourke