Billy Milligan’s Battle With Cancer

controversial figure-Billy Milligan's battle with cancer

Cancer, a dreaded word that strikes fear into the hearts of many, has left its mark on countless lives around the world.

This disease is no respecter of persons, affecting both the unknown and the famous. One such personality who battled cancer was the infamous Billy Milligan.

Billy Milligan, born William Stanley Milligan, was a fascinating and controversial figure.

Known for his groundbreaking legal defense in the late 1970s, Milligan was the first person in the United States to be acquitted of major crimes by reason of insanity attributed to multiple personality disorder.

This article aims to shed light on the type of cancer that Billy Milligan had, as well as to provide a brief understanding of the disease itself.

Pancreatic Cancer: A Brief Overview

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer due to its tendency to be diagnosed at a late stage.

The pancreas is a vital organ, responsible for the production of enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that regulate blood sugar levels.

Pancreatic cancer typically spreads rapidly to nearby organs. It is seldom detected in its early stages, but for people with pancreatic cysts or a family history of pancreatic cancer, some screening steps might help detect a problem early.

One sign of pancreatic cancer is diabetes, especially when it occurs with weight loss, jaundice, or pain in the upper abdomen that spreads to the back.

Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these.

Unfortunately, less than 20% of pancreatic cancer cases are detected when the cancer is confined to the pancreas and operable.

By the time symptoms occur, the disease is often advanced.

Read More About Pancreatic Cancer: A Silent Killer

Who was Billy Milligan?

Billy Milligan

Born as William Stanley Milligan on the 14th of February, 1955, in Miami Beach, Florida, Billy Milligan, the central figure in a highly publicized and controversial legal case gained public attention during the 1970s.

At the age of 22, he was arrested in 1977 on charges of abduction, theft, and sexual assault of three women near the Ohio State campus. He was convicted and provided with public defenders to handle his legal proceedings.

It was a case of firsts as Milligan became the inaugural defendant to be legally exonerated based on Multiple Personality Disorder.

His complex and intriguing life was further brought to light through the renowned non-fiction book “The Minds of Billy Milligan,” authored by Daniel Keyes.

Further exploration of Milligan’s life was presented in Keyes’s sequels, which were published under the title “The Milligan Wars” in Japan, Taiwan, France, and Ukraine.

Hollywood made multiple attempts to bring this compelling story to the big screen, with the notable filmmaker James Cameron co-authoring a script with Todd Graff.

Even though Cameron eventually parted ways with the project, Warner Bros. carried it forward, initially considering Leonardo Dicaprio for the lead role.

However, in a twist of events, the project was transformed into a ten-episode television series on Apple TV in 2021, featuring Tom Holland in the lead, rather than the initially proposed Dicaprio project.

The same year, Netflix also released a four-part documentary titled “Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan,” under the direction of Olivier Megaton, further deepening public understanding of Milligan’s complex life.

What Happened to Billy Milligan?

Billi Milligan a Controversial Face with multiple Personality Disorder

Milligan claimed that he was not responsible for the crimes he was accused of committing.

Instead, he asserted that different personalities within him, namely Ragen and Adalana, were responsible for the theft and assault respectively.

As the legal proceedings unfolded, it became evident that Milligan had multiple distinct identities within his psyche, totaling up to 24 personalities.

On December 4, 1978, after careful consideration of the evidence and psychiatric evaluations, Milligan was declared not guilty by reason of insanity for all nine charges.

This groundbreaking verdict recognized that Milligan’s mental condition, characterized by the presence of multiple personalities, played a significant role in his actions, absolving him of legal culpability.

Milligan’s case marked the first time a defendant was acquitted on the basis of multiple personality disorder. His disorder was attributed to the traumatic childhood abuse he endured at the hands of his stepfather, Chalmer Milligan.

After his legal battles, Milligan’s life continued to be closely observed. He spent a significant portion of his life in various psychiatric hospitals, where his multiple personalities were documented.

Eventually, he was released in 1988 after spending a decade under psychiatric care.

Milligan resided in California for a period before relocating to Columbus, Ohio, with the assistance of his sister, who purchased him a mobile home.

In 2012, Milligan received a cancer diagnosis, which had a profound impact on his life.

He dedicated his remaining years to painting while residing in his mobile home.

Billy Milligan’s Battle with Cancer

Although Billy Milligan led an incredibly complex life, marked by controversy and legal battles, it was a completely different battle that ended his life.

According to public records, Milligan died of cancer on December 12, 2014, at the age of 59. Specifically, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Milligan’s Legacy

Despite the controversies and legal struggles that defined much of Billy Milligan’s life, his battle with pancreatic cancer was a private one.

His life serves as a reminder of the unpredictability and severity of cancer, as well as the importance of advancements in medical treatments and early detection methods.


Reviewed By : Dr. Aviral Vatsa

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