Coping With Cancer During COVID: Randy Thompson’s Plan for Positivity

As the world entered lockdown in March 2020, Randy Thompson began working from home and becoming accustomed to the well-worn phrase, ‘new normal.’

But, just two-weeks later his world was jolted even further. Randy was diagnosed with stage 4 liver and rectal cancer. During the uncertainties brought on by a global pandemic, he was immediately struck with so many questions. What will he need to keep going? What will his treatment be like? How can he ensure he feels supported while in isolation?

He began aggressive chemotherapy treatment shortly thereafter, and currently visits the Tom Baker Cancer Centre bi-weekly to treat the 20 spots and lesions on both organs. So far his treatment has been effective. His first CT scan that was completed almost four months into his treatment indicated that the cancer has already decreased significantly. His hope is that treatment will give him the energy and time needed to find ways to make a difference for others facing cancer. With a background working in mental health, Randy is no stranger to the power of positive thinking. His cancer journey animates this mentality.

“For me, it’s about making a plan to do something positive with your situation even when it’s hard to do. Find a cause or something that’s important to you and surround yourself with people who are in it for the same reasons you are and will support you.”

This doesn’t mean tempering hardship, but rather purging the unnecessary negative.

“My immediate and extended family have been a tremendous support for me. Being very real and up-front about my diagnosis and not hiding my prognosis was critical for me from my family and friends. You’re not protecting anyone from not sharing the truth about what is happening or what will happen.”

Being laser-focused on the positive.

“Pretty much every day I get messages from someone out there thinking of me. That’s been very uplifting and it keeps me driven. Every once in a while it allows me in a cathartic way to share how I’m doing. It keeps the train going. From internal family right to my external network.”

After catapulting into the realm of cancer, Randy found that staying hopeful helps him remain grounded. Hope, he believes, is one of the first things to go when people hear of a terminal or chronic illness. But thanks to the generosity of Alberta Cancer Foundation donors, hope can be created through enhanced care and novel treatment options.

“Years ago stage 4 cancer was terminal. Today it is different. I’ve seen some pretty amazing stories. You think about hope and recovery even at the stage 4 level. That is through research.”

The act of living well with cancer is possible. And this cannot be reduced by the word, ‘cure.’

“To me, that is often the message that gets lost. People feel like they are giving and giving and there’s no cure so why bother? There are so many new treatments that are extending life, lessening side-effects, and improving quality of life. There are so many reasons for cancer research outside of a cure that need to be funded. We are making a difference and we need to continue to do that.”

Through sharing what hope and positivity mean to him, Randy aims to inspire other Albertans facing cancer as well as donors. His story highlights the strength of the human spirit in the face of cancer and emphasizes the importance of supporting each other.

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