Alberta Cancer Foundation

Meet Randy Thompson

Randy Thompson. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Shortly after Randy Thompson was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal and liver cancer in March 2020, he made a list of all the things that brought him joy, along with all the things that made him upset. The 55-year-old Calgarian realized he couldn’t change what was happening to him physically, but he could manage what was happening mentally. This practice included focusing on hope and visualizing himself being well again.

Thompson, a social worker by trade, says his experiences with mental health care have helped guide his cancer journey so far, and sharing his story has offered him a chance to practice openness and positivity in a meaningful way.

In his own words:

“I felt like I really needed to focus on my treatment and on staying positive — purge my life of anything negative, which includes people, situations and all the things that I can control.

“I’ve worked in mental health for 30 years. I know that giving back does a lot for people and certainly volunteering does a lot for me. I work in suicide prevention, so I felt that there’s a way I could combine both suicide prevention with a terminal illness diagnosis and find opportunities to speak to it to give others hope, which in turn gives me hope.

“I use social media as an outlet, and I’ve been able to also speak many times. I’ve done a number of interviews as well for magazines, for websites, etc. People now seem to be reaching out to me, and it is doing tons for my own recovery.

“What I did was I made that conscious decision around becoming an ambassador of hope, purging the negative and finding ways to sustain myself.

“For me it’s all about my family, and the dedication and support they’ve shown me. They’ve been just amazing through this. My family is really enough to sustain me for life.”

After speaking with Leap, Thompson underwent a successful double surgical extraction to remove his existing tumours at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre. Today, his prognosis is good, and he’s on the path to recovery.