Calgary father and firefighter featured in emotional Alberta Cancer Foundation campaign

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Calgary father and firefighter featured in emotional Alberta Cancer Foundation campaign
Watch: This weekend marks World Cancer Day. Feb. 4 is reserved to raise awareness and encourage prevention, detection and treatment. A Calgary man on his own cancer journey is sharing his story in a very public way to bring survivors and caregivers hope. Jill Croteau reports – Feb 2, 2023

Lorne Miller is used to being on the front lines and witnessing tragedy. But the Calgary firefighter and father of two didn’t expect he would be faced with his own hardship.

“I’ve sat on the ‘runway to the afterlife’ a couple times now,” Miller said. “There’s no checked bag, there’s no carry on, it’s just you and a one-way ticket out of here.”

Miller was diagnosed with cancer after doctors discovered a cancerous mass nearly the size of a volleyball in his stomach on May 9, 2021.

After the surgery and celebrating one year being cancer free, he got a gut-wrenching call. It’s back.

Read more: Cancer survival rates higher when detected at earlier stages: StatCan study

“I thought I was in the clear and to hear you’re not was really tough. Your mind goes to a million different places, with the obvious one being one of them,” Miller said.

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He had another surgery just before Christmas of 2022. He knows how hard this has been on the people closest to him.

“I can handle anything with this disease. I can handle surgery treatment, I think I can even handle death but what I can’t handle is the impact and pain it causes other people. The fear and the worry,” Miller said.

Lorne Miller after surgery. Courtesy: Lorne Miller
Lorne and his family. Courtesy: Lorne Miller
Lorne Miller and his 4-year-old son, August. Jill Croteau/Global News

But he said he feels an obligation to do something beyond his diagnosis. He and his family are featured in a video campaign for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

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“It’s very humbling to have that story be shared and I just hope it shows people that despite that disease you can still live a life of gratitude.”

“I’ve learned to not let the worries of tomorrow take away the joys of today. Each day is a gift and I am lucky to be here and I know that,” Miller said.

“All you can do is give.”

Click to play video: 'Canadian Cancer Society talks Dry Feb'
Canadian Cancer Society talks Dry Feb

Alberta Cancer Foundation’s CEO, Wendy Beauchesne, said those living with cancer need to see hope.

“Every day 60 people hear those three words: ‘You have cancer.’

“Stories like Lorne’s illustrate the complexity of the cancer experience. It’s not linear, it’s messy and mucky, but it’s also filled with love and joy and hope,” Beauchesne said.

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Read more: Cervical cancer rates in Canada and U.S. are dropping. Experts think they know why

“I spent a lot of time looking for someone like me with a rare version of cancer and was still living or living and thriving, and eventually my friend said, ‘You can be that voice for somebody else,'” Miller said.

An anonymous donor has offered to match up to $25,000 in donations this month to the Alberta Cancer Foundation to help fund the fight.

“Life is a beautiful and wonderful experience that I desperately want to be a part of,” Miller said.

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