If you have grown up in Canada during the last 36 years, you have most likely heard of Terry Fox. Perhaps you have even done several Terry Fox runs to help raise money in the fight for a cure for cancer. But Terry Fox wasn’t just about raising money, he also wanted his life to give courage to people who had been given the awful diagnosis of cancer. He wanted to show that it was important to keep believing in miracles and to keep pursuing dreams.
Terry’s dream was interrupted by cancer, and that is what cancer often does. However, when Terry started his run from Newfoundland towards Victoria, he also had a goal of encouraging every Canadian to give $1 towards cancer research, and by the time he had to stop running he had raised more than $24 million dollars. In that respect, Terry had reached his goal.
Since then, the Marathon of Hope has been held every year and over $650 million has been raised for cancer research.
Terry was born on July 28, 1958 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. If Terry had lived, he would be 58 years old today. But when he was 18, he started getting pain in his knee, and was eventually diagnosed with bone cancer. His leg was amputated, and he went through chemotherapy and had to learn how to walk again with a prosthesis.
Those of us who have no disabilities, cannot fully understand what it must be like. But we can feel how inspiring it is to see someone rise above their adversity and make something of their life anyhow.
Terry decided to run across Canada and raise money for cancer research. To do this required a lot of training and commitment beforehand. In 1979 he ran the Prince George to Boston marathon of 17 miles, and even though he finished last, he still finished!
In April 1980, he dipped his foot in the Atlantic Ocean in the harbour of St. John’s, Newfoundland and began to run. He ran 26 miles a day for 143 days before he had to stop. His cancer had returned, and was now in his lungs. He died in June of 1981.
The Terry Fox Run, or Marathon of Hope is now held every September on the second Sunday after Labour Day.
It took cancer to realize that being self-centered is not the way to live. The answer is to try and help others.
I guess that one of the most important things I’ve learned is that nothing is ever completely bad. Even cancer. It has made me a better person. It has given me courage and a sense of purpose I never had before. But you don’t have to do like I did…wait until you lose a leg or get some awful disease, before you take the time to find out what kind of stuff you’re really made of. You can start now. Anybody can.
Activity: What are you made of?