Alberta Cancer Foundation

“How do I tell them it’s back?” Facing cancer recurrence – Calgary Firefighter Lorne Miller’s shares his story

Lorne Miller with wife Lindsay, son August and daughter Esmae
Lorne Miller with wife Lindsay, son August and daughter Esmae

Calgary Firefighter Lorne Miller was diagnosed with liposarcoma in May of 2021.

After months of treatments and working to build his life back, Lorne celebrated one year of being cancer-free in June 2022. But just a few months later, his cancer returned. Lorne was on duty when he got the call from his doctor in November. His last scan confirmed that his cancer had relapsed.

“It’s back..”

For Lorne, the hardest part was breaking the news to his wife Lindsay again, “In a cancer patient’s world, when you get one of those calls, your mind starts spinning… How do I tell my family? How do I tell them it’s back?”

The fear of recurrence is something that every cancer patient lives with. This fear became Lorne’s reality. But Lorne sprung into action, just as he did the first round of treatment. Calling up his support system for help, diving headfirst into his doctors’ suggestions, and bringing gratitude front and centre, preparing himself as much as possible for what lay ahead.

“The good news is, we’ve been down this road before, and I am better prepared this time to deal with it. I’ve taken full advantage of the last year and a half to build myself up to levels I never thought possible, and I have plenty of fight in the tank,” he says.

Thankfully the recurrence was caught early, and Lorne’s medical team at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre was optimistic that they could perform surgery and remove the tumour. He was booked in for surgery on December 12th, “We were beyond grateful that I had been booked in for such a complicated procedure on short notice in an incredibly overburdened system,” he said.

“But you’ll be there for my birthday, right?”

Lorne Miller with daughter

When Lorne told his daughter Esmae that he had to go in for another surgery, she looked at him and said, “But you’ll be here for my birthday, right?”.

A simple question with so much weight. Esmae’s birthday was only a couple of weeks away, on Christmas Eve, and Lorne had a massive surgery he was facing.

As a father, Lorne would do anything to protect his children from the devastation that cancer can cause. So he created a goal and set his sights on it – to be home for Esmae’s 7th birthday on December 24th. 

Fortunately, the surgery went well. His tumour was removed, and he received HIPEC treatment to remove any remaining cancer cells. After two weeks at the hospital, he made it home just in time for Esmae’s birthday and to spend Christmas with his family.

“We were carried by the incredible community that has surrounded our little family and supported us through another brutal experience. I’m on my knees, thanks to the incredible medical staff who looked after me.”

Just like Lorne’s initial journey with cancer, his wife, Lindsay, provided support in every direction possible during his second round of treatments. From helping Lorne navigate cancer’s emotional and physical challenges to providing a healing and caring environment for him and their children to find safety. Lindsay took on the role of ‘caregiver’ without hesitation.

“Throughout the entire process, she has been my safe place. I’ve always said that if someone in our family had to get sick, I’m glad it was me. I’ve learned, however, that my job is the easy one. I’ve been doted on constantly by doctors, nurses, family, friends, and strangers to make sure I am comfortable and have everything I need.

Her role is much more complicated and daunting. I won’t pretend to understand the pressures of her situation, but gosh she carries that load with unimaginable grace. I’m so proud of her, and I love her oh so much.

Lindsay is my everything. She is the best thing in my life, and I’ll spend the rest of my days so grateful for the love she gives me. She is my safe place. Whenever things get heavy or tough, I know that if I can just get to her, things will be instantly better. And she’s only ever asked for one thing in return. to not leave her side. And I’m doing everything I can to keep that promise.”

In addition to Lorne’s support system at home, his work family provided a strong care network and open arms throughout his cancer journey. 

Lorne began his Fire Fighting career over twenty years ago. From the beginning, it was a goal of his to serve the community he grew up in. When it became his reality, Lorne found that sense of purpose we all find ourselves searching for. 

Not only was he serving his community, but he was building one within his team. A team that held him up when it felt like everything was falling apart. A team that helped carry the weight of the first and second cancer diagnosis, a team that turned into family.

“[They are] the crew that literally picked me up when I collapsed in tears, sat with me in silence, and helped me…” 

Even through his cancer journey, Lorne has experienced some of his best, strongest, and most beautiful moments. For Lorne, your donation to the Alberta Cancer Foundation means more of this for more patients. 

“The goal of most cancer patients is to have more moments. More moments with their families, friends, and themselves. The donations made to the Alberta Cancer Foundation buy more moments for us patients. So, if there is an opportunity for me to give back to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, I have an obligation to do so, so patients that come after me will enjoy some extra moments like I have.” – Lorne Miller


Till February 28, 2023, all donations made to the Alberta Cancer Foundation will be matched up to $25,000.

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