September 15, 2013

Working Together to Outrun Cancer

Today is the 33rd annual Terry Fox Run to fight cancer. This is an important cause as all of us either have been or will be personally touched by cancer in our lifetime. My father is a cancer survivor, so I know just how crucial this kind of funding is. This is a post I wrote last year about my favourite Canadian, but since today is the Terry Fox Run again, I thought I'd re-post it in his memory:

THIS is what perseverance looks like.
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's, Newfoundland, 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, 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.*

Taking part in the Terry Fox Run every September has become a tradition in our family. (Photo taken in Saskatoon, 2010)

"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." (letter to the Canadian Cancer Society)


Information for this post borrowed from here.

8 comments:

  1. I'd never heard of Terry Fox or his story before--which I can't believe, because what an inspirational story it is. Thanks for sharing (again) :)

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    1. You're welcome, Rebecca! We kind of love Terry Fox around these parts.♥

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  2. We had a great day at the Terry Fox run too. Thanks for reposting this, Jaime, because everyone should know about Terry's legacy. :)

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    1. I agree. There are still so many people out there who have never heard of Terry or what he did. His story is too inspirational not to be heard. :-)

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  3. What a beautiful way to remember him, and such an inspirational story! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. You're welcome! He's such an inspiration, I can't help but tell his story. :-)

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  4. I'm so glad you reposted this. I think this is my first time since Kindergarten that I haven't been able to do the run (I'm 21 now). I lost my uncle to cancer earlier this year. I wish more people outside of Canada knew Terry's story. <3

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    1. Oh, wow! That's a lot of Terry Fox Runs! My dad was actually the Terry Team member (because he was a cancer patient then survivor) when we lived in Sault Ste. Marie. I haven't participated every year, but for the past several years it has become tradition. So important! And I agree that more people should know about Terry. He's such an inspiration!

      I'm sorry to hear about your uncle, Samantha. I wish this disease was completely eradicated.

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