Calgary firefighter survives cancer, gives back to boy battling sarcoma

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Calgary firefighter survives cancer, gives back to boy battling sarcoma
A Calgary father is taking on a physical challenge that will test his mind and body. He survived cancer and is on a mission to give back to the community. Starting Wednesday, he and some colleagues will run four miles every four hours for 48 hours. Jill Croteau has more on what's inspired him to do it – Mar 14, 2022

It’s an intense test of both the mind and body. Local Calgary firefighter, Lorne Miller survived cancer following a diagnosis close to a year ago.

Doctors discovered a cancerous mass — nearly the size of a volleyball — in Miller’s stomach on May 9, 2021.

“Your world is changed in an instant,” Miller said.

“Once you cross that bridge as a cancer patient, you can’t uncross it. It changes the fabric of who you are.”

“It’s something you have to move forward with. You don’t get past it, you don’t get over it, you move forward with and that’s something I’m still trying to do today.,” he explained.

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The husband and father of two went through surgery and treatment for the massive and aggressive soft tissue sarcoma. He now considers himself cancer free, determined to do something with his second chance.

“With (cancer) comes fear and pain, emotionally and physically. I’ve tried to transition that pain into something positive,” Miller explained.

That’s where three-year-old Sawyer Velting comes in. The little boy was diagnosed with a similar type of cancer as Miller at just six months old. Though the little boy recovered, cancer came back at the age of three.

Three-year-old Sawyer Velting was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. Courtesy: Ashley Velting

“It shows no mercy and impacts so many lives,” said Ashley Velting, Sawyer’s mom.

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Colleagues within the fire department told Miller about not only the little boy’s similar journey with cancer, but also how the two shared a passion for firefighting.

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After surviving cancer, Calgary firefighter Lorne Miller has taken it upon himself to do the Gibbons challenge to raise money for a Calgary family who’s son is battling a second round of sarcoma cancer — the close to the same one Miller is in recovery from. Jill Croteau, Global News

Though the pair have never met in person, Miller felt compelled with his new lease on life to give back in someway. He came up with the idea to raise money for the family to have the ability to spend more time together without stress and the burden of bills.

“Parenting is the most challenging thing I’ve ever had to do as a human,” Velting said.

“You always struggle with ‘What ifs’ and assume responsibility for anything that happens and I have battled with, ‘Why Sawyer?'”

The Velting family will be the recipients of all the money raised by cancer survivor and local firefighter, Lorne Miller through his fitness challenge on March 16, 2022. Courtesy: Ashley Velting

Miller — who’s still in recovery from his cancer treatment — will take on the grueling and physically demanding Goggins Challenge with friends starting this Wednesday. The challenge consists of running four miles, every four hours for 48 hours.

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It’s something he said is “nothing compared” to the challenges Sawyer is currently facing in his fight for his life as the three-year-old continues rounds of intensive chemo and radiation.

Calgary firefighter and cancer survivor, Lorne Miller training for his fitness fundraiser on March 14, 2022. Jill Croteau, Global News

Velting said Miller’s jump into action for a family he’s never met is incredibly inspiring and has taught them to treasure every moment in time.

“We realized every minute, every moment was so precious and the thought of losing our child made us value time and the importance of being present,” Velting said.

Miller encourages anyone and everyone to take part in the challenge by either running the Goggins Challenge, donating money to the GoFundMe campaign or by spreading awareness of the campaign by using the hashtag, #teamSawyer.

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“The cancer journey can be lonely and tough but people show up and I am a firm believer the right people are in front of you at the right time,” Miller said.

To follow along Miller’s two-day challenge for Sawyer on Instagram, click here. Miller will wrap up the Goggins Challenge at noon on March 18.

–with files from Jessika Guse, Global News

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