As a senior executive officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), cancer was the last thing on Pete Thompson’s mind. “I was busy traveling for work, both domestically and internationally, and had been feeling great,” explained Pete. In 2000, he began to feel under the weather and saw a doctor who insisted that Pete get screened for colon cancer even though he was under the recommended screening age. A golf ball sized tumor in his colon was found on December 19, a day he and his family will never forget.

Shortly after his diagnosis, Pete had surgery to remove the cancerous tumor and recovered well, in large part because his cancer was detected early and treated aggressively. Unfortunately, in 2002, Pete’s cancer returned and this time he was treated with radiation and chemotherapy, which was thankfully successful.

While at the hospital for treatment in January 2001, Pete met a Canadian Cancer Society clinic supervisor he credits with saving his life.

”My physical symptoms were being treated, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional portion of my cancer journey,” explained Pete. “I fell into a depression, but the clinic supervisor encouraged me to carry on and move forward. As a result, I became a volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society so that I could give back all the wonderful support I received.”

Pete participated in his first Relay For Life event in 2003 when he completed the Survivors’ Victory Lap, where cancer survivors walk the first lap of the Relay track. He got so hooked on the event, he decided to begin volunteering at Relay For Life the next year.

Over the years, Pete has become a valued fixture of the Ottawa Relay For Life event.  He’s been a member of the team recruitment committee, the treasury committee and the registration committee, and also held the position of event chair for two terms. His own team, named The Rear ‘End’rs, is made up of individuals from his colon cancer survivor group who have raised over $100,000.

“As a leadership volunteer, I have become familiar with most of the participant’s faces over the years and am able to associate them to their Relay team name,” said Pete. “My favorite part of Relay For Life is setting up the event, as it is magical to see the transformation of a simple field into an inspirational, emotional and celebratory fundraising event for the Canadian Cancer Society.”

Pete is now retired from the RCMP and is an instructor at Algonquin College’s Police and Public Safety Institute in Ottawa. He continues to volunteer with the Society as Chair of the Relay Advisory Team for Ontario Division and member of the Society’s National Relay Training Team. “Participating in events like Relay For Life is what volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society is all about, as the true secret of life is giving, not getting.”