Randy Milanovic

A stage 4 cancer survivor living in the moment.

Diagnosis. The doctor asked me if I had a will. “No”, I replied, “but I guess I better get one.” Now, if you know me, you’ll agree that I’m not the type to roll over and play dead. I fought that cancer hard, enduring six months of chemotherapy treatments, along with a pair of painful bone marrow punctures, and “lived” in an air-tight hospital room until the cancer was gone. The disease had left me 60 lbs lighter and extremely frail. Strengthening my body was a priority. I began with walks. At first, around the house, around the yard, and around the block. Eventually, I trekked the 2 km pathway around a nearby pond. One day, a great blue heron floated in for a landing near me. Its featherless shoulders caught my attention and I studied it from the bank, lost in the moment.

Water. One afternoon a year after d-day (diagnosis), I asked my sister to take me to a nearby Canadian Tire where I purchased two kayaks. “Two?” she asked. “Yes”, I replied. “You don’t think I’m going out alone, do you?” Then I watched as she loaded them onto the roof of her SUV…because she was stronger than me. Then to the lakes, we went.

Exploration. Before that fateful year, I had visited Singapore, Brussels, Rome, Paris, Monaco, Pisa… the dark alleyways in Taipei, ruins in ancient Istanbul and the seaside of Croatia and before those, I’d explored far away Indonesia, Mexico, and even the Florida Keys. I’ve lost count of the countries visited past 20. But not the memories. Those remain vivid in my mind and I’m willing to share them, over a beer or coffee. Anytime.

Canada. Since beating the cancer, I’ve kept my wandering much closer to home. The Canadian wilds draw me like a magnet. Snow-capped peaks, glassy calm lakes, high mountain sunsets, prairie sunrises, flowers, creatures, wild weather, and the aurora – oh, the aurora. All of these capture my imagination and fill me with awe. I’ve seen real wilderness…places where hardly a sole has tread…large animals like cougars, wolves, bears, moose, elk, deer, mountain goats, pronghorns, and mountain sheep…smaller ones too…like badgers, pikas, groundhogs, weasels, wild rabbits and other critters… and there’s no denying I felt very much alive while sharing my hiking trail with a gigantic Grizzly in the fall of 2021.

Moments. I’ve accepted that every experience I’ve ever had has been but a single moment in my life. The cancer diagnosis, chemo treatments, raisin cinnamon bagels for breakfast, and even walks in the park…moments. I hope you enjoy sharing mine.