By Yoos, Cam on April 13, 2020.
Forty years ago, a Canadian who had an unlucky draw and was diagnosed with cancer, took on the challenge of a lifetime to run across Canada in hopes of raising money for cancer research and created a legacy that generations after him would honour.
On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox took his first step on the Canadian highway to start his journey across Canada to spread awareness and raise money for the life-threatening diseases that affects every family across the country. Terry Fox’s uncle, who he was named after, says that over the last 40 years of carrying his legacy, communities haven’t forgotten and continue to grow and support the cause.
“It was 40 years ago when he started his walk and he has brought a lot of light with his Marathon of Hope,” says Fox. “It has gotten bigger and bigger every year and his memory is still with most people, and I still go to a lot of schools and talk to the young people about him because it is important to remember.”
When Fox was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in his right leg in 1979, he was placed in the child’s ward of the hospital where he learned about courage from seeing the bravery in the faces of children who were suffering with similar conditions, ultimately encouraging him to start the Marathon of Hope.
“When he was in the hospital, they told him that there wasn’t any room in the adult ward and that he would have to move down into the children’s ward and he said it was fine,” says Fox. “When he saw the kids and said they were bald and they couldn’t get out of bed, that is when he said that he stopped feeling sorry for himself and after he got into running and back into shape and that is when he decided to run across Canada.”
On Sept. 1, 1980, Fox’s journey came to an end after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres. His primary cancer had spread to his lungs and ended his journey. Since 1980, communities across Canada has continued his journey and helped raise over $750 million for cancer research. Fox says that his nephew didn’t want to stop his goal, and although it did, he had accomplished more than he originally would have thought.
“He would always bug me and tell me that he wanted to finish the run across Canada, he just wanted to get out there and finish it,” says Fox. “He didn’t finish the run, but he did accomplish a lot in his 143 days of running out there, and he has helped a lot of people because of it including me, as I have had cancer for the second time now and I beat it the first time and hopefully have it beat again.”
Although this year’s run in September is uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox’s uncle, family and run organizers across the country are encouraging people to take the time out of their day to remember the steps and legacy Fox left behind for generations to work at having a cancer-free world. For more information on the 40-year-journey to a cure, or to donate to the cause, visit terryfoxfoundation.com.
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