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Courage To Come Back: Medical award recipient survived multiple near-death experiences

Despite all of the challenges he's faced, Greg Anctil continues to maintain a positive attitude. Anctil is this year's Coast Mental Health Courage To Come Back Medical award recipient. (Courtesy Coast Mental Health)

Greg Anctil continues to maintain a positive attitude, despite all the challenges he's faced in his life

Anctil is the 2021 Coast Mental Health Courage to Come Back Awards winner in the Medical category

Anctil's challenges began just over two decades ago with Crohn's disease

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – He survived enough health traumas for three lifetimes, yet Greg Anctil continues to maintain a positive attitude. Our look at the recipients of this year’s Coast Mental Health Courage To Come Back Awards continues with the winner in the Medical category.

Anctil is used to defying the odds. A highly-regarded employment lawyer in Victoria, his clients include Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the former Representative for Children and Youth. But it’s his trials away from the courtroom that have been the most challenging.

It all started with a particularly bad bout of Crohn’s disease just over two decades ago.

“For the longest time, it wasn’t diagnosed as Crohn’s disease, which created some problems in terms of getting the problem fixed. But, yeah, there were a number of surgeries associated with that. So, I was off and basically ill for about 18 months between 1999 and 2000,” he explains.

Fast forward to 2015, when a flare-up of his Crohn’s led to a leukemia diagnosis. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he suffered avascular necrosis in both his shoulders and hips — leading to replacement surgeries for both.

“You would think that pulling out fairly major joints and replacing them with metal would be a big deal but it really isn’t. Once it’s done, you kind of forget you ever had it done. The metal hips and shoulders are almost as good as the real ones,” Anctil says.

Despite everything he’s been through — including being told he was going to die on three separate occasions — Anctil isn’t the kind of guy to dwell on his problems.

“Your immediate sort of reaction or inclination is just to kind of put it behind you. I can’t say ‘forget about it,’ you never forget about it. But you want it in the background, you don’t want it to be something that is in your face and that you’re talking about and dealing with on an ongoing basis.”

Anctil says it’s his family and his faith that has seen him through the tough times. His wife, Karilyn, is herself a past Courage To Come Back Award winner, also in the Medical category, and a fellow Crohn’s sufferer.

“Family’s a big part of it. When I was first diagnosed with the leukemia and things were looking grim, the kids were only eight years old. You get through that because you have to,” he admits while choking back tears.

“If you maintain hope, if you maintain perspective, if you don’t give up until it truly is over, then you never know how things are going to turn out. Sometimes things turn out pretty well.”

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NEWS 1130 is a proud sponsor of the Coast Mental Health Courage To Come Back Awards, which raises critical funds for people living with mental illness right here in B.C. You can make a difference by donating today. Visit couragetocomeback.ca to learn more.

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