June 28, 2012

My Favourite Canadian

THIS is what perseverance looks like. 
Have you entered my O Canada Day Giveaway yet? If not, go ahead and do it now. I'll wait. Okay, moving on... Today, I thought I'd share the story of one of Canada's greatest people. And I promise you, few Canadians would disagree. I get choked up even typing his name because he's that much of an inspiration in so many ways. Let me introduce you to:

Terry Fox
(July 28, 1958—June 28, 1981)

Terrance Stanley Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba but raised mostly in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. An avid athlete, Terry played as many sports as he could including basketball, even though he was not overly tall. At the age of 19, Terry was diagnosed with osteosarcoma—a cancer that often begins in the knee region—and his leg had to be amputated. He was given a 50% chance of survival, which was far greater than it had been only a couple of years earlier (15%). Through it all—the chemo, the amputation, learning to walk on a prosthetic leg only three weeks later—Terry maintained a positive attitude. He'd watched many of his fellow cancer patients succumb to their diseases, and wanted to do something to change this. With this in mind, Terry began marathon training with the intention of running across Canada to increase awareness about cancer research and to raise much-needed funding.

And the Marathon of Hope was born.

On April 12, 1980, Terry  "dipped his right leg in the Atlantic Ocean near St. John'sNewfoundland, and filled two large bottles with ocean water. He intended to keep one as a souvenir and pour the other into the Pacific Ocean upon completing his journey at Victoria, British Columbia."* His run started out rough—horrible weather, arguments with his friend (travel companion), and drivers trying to force him off the road—but by the time he reached Ontario things were looking up. His Marathon of Hope was receiving exposure, and funding was starting to come in.

Sadly, the exertion of his run and his refusal to take a single day off was taking a toll on his body. Increasing exhaustion and pain in his stump and chest forced him to seek medical attention. Terry's cancer had returned and had spread to his lungs. 143 days and 5, 373km (3, 339 miles) in Terry's run had come to an end. Terry had raised $1.7 million for cancer research, and the funds continued to pour in. By the following April, over $23 million had been raised in his name. Terry underwent further chemotherapy, but the cancer continued to spread, and on June 28, 1981 he lost his battle with cancer.

Terry's legacy continues today, and every fall people in more than 60 countries around the world take part in the Terry Fox Run to raise awareness and funding for cancer research. The Terry Fox run is the largest one-day campaign for cancer research in the world. To date, over $500 million has been raised in his name.*

"The people in cancer clinics all over the world need people who believe in miracles. I am not a dreamer, and I am not saying that this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer. I believe in miracles. I have to." (in a letter to the Canadian Cancer Society)
* Source

Information for this post borrowed from here.

10 comments:

  1. Wow--an inspiring story. Sorry to say I'd not heard of Terry Fox before--at least I don't think so... maybe his name was mentioned in my hearing, but it didn't register. Anyway, thanks for sharing, Jaime, and making me aware of him and his example.

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    1. He's pretty big around these parts, and most people in this country consider him one of the greatest Canadians. He was also awarded the Order of Canada, which is considered Canada's highest civilian honour. It's given by the Governor General who is the queen's representative in Canada. Quite the remarkable person, Terry Fox is, and a true inspiration. :)

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  2. Just WOW!!!!!! Awe-inspiring. Love that final quote too.

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    1. Isn't he inspiring? That's what true determination looks like. :)

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  3. No one has ever made me feel prouder to be a Canadian than Terry Fox. The great thing is that his legacy wasn’t just for Canadians. Everyone has been affected by cancer in some way, whether they’ve experienced the disease themselves or know someone else who’s struggled with it. I think it’s great that so many other countries in the world have also sponsored fundraising runs in Terry’s name. Everybody should be aware of what this amazing young man sacrificed so thanks for commemorating him with this awesome post! In terms of reading (seeing as this is a blog mainly about books) some time ago I picked up Terry Fox’s biography and it’s in my TBR pile, although I’ve read a couple children’s versions already. I’ll have to make sure I read it before the next run in September!

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    1. Well, with the O Canada Day Giveaway going on, I figured that it was appropriate to feature such an inspiring Canadian—and, as you say, not just inspiring to Canadians. Every time I think about what he did with one leg, I'm humbled, and I give myself a little priority check.

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  5. Wow, that is AWESOME. That's really all I have to say. :)

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  6. Jaime, this is an amazing story and a true inspiration. I groan every time I get on the elliptical to run my 5 miles; I can't even imagine 3,339 miles across an entire country, and on a prosthetic, at that. This definitely gives me something to think about when I go for my next run.

    I was devastated when I lost my mom to cancer a little over two years ago; such a horrible disease, too many wonderful people are taken from us because of it. But I'm constantly looking for ways to bring awareness and raise funding - so thank you for sharing this story. I'm on my way over to check out Terry's foundation now!

    Happy Friday, Jaime - truly inspiring post. Thank you!

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