By Dale Woodard on November 17, 2020.
For Tyson Yanchycki, it was an anniversary worth running for.
Ten years after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, Yanchycki laced up for an almost cross-Alberta run Saturday morning to raise awareness and funds for cancer research through the Terry Fox Foundation.
But this run wasn’t just about him.
This trek, a 324-kilometre trek starting in the Crowsnest Pass and ending in Medicine Hat, was for another fellow runner who inspired Yanchycki to get on the trail as the 29-year-old Lethbridge resident honoured his uncle, Bryan Cameron Bell, who lost his battle to cancer at the age of 59.
“Ten years ago I was diagnosed with cancer,” said Yanchycki. “But I also lost my uncle to cancer this year and my son (Harrison) just turned one.”
Ten years ago, Yanchycki was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
“But what happened was it grew all the way up into my abdomen and a tumour the size of a grapefruit formed,” he said. “It was millimetres away from attaching to my kidney.”
When he was diagnosed, Yanchycki said he was told of all the things he wouldn’t be able to do.
“For example, I would never regain full abdominal control. So I went out and was able to compete in a bodybuilding show and I ended up winning my pro card in that.
“I was told the chances of me having kids was very unlikely or not going to happen at all. Now I have a son.”
But when his uncle’s health began to deteriorate, Yanchycki started running.
“He was a very elite runner,” he said. “He ran the Boston Marathon. So I wanted to qualify for that. I was going to do that for him this year. I trained all year and then COVID-19 hit and all my marathons got cancelled.”
When Yanchycki saw a picture of his uncle’s family taking part in the Terry Fox Run, he started looking into the Terry Fox Foundation.
“I started researching the foundation and Terry and his principal beliefs and what he was all about. He was all about cancer research. Nothing was about making a name for yourself or money. His core belief was ‘I’m not going to let this define me. I’m going to show everybody that you can do anything you set your mind to.’ I’ve always had that mentality as well.”
As plans for his cross-Alberta run started to take shape, Yanchycki reached out to the Terry Fox Foundation.
“They said they would support me and created a foundation page for me,” he said. “People who are looking to make donations can go to http://www.terryfox.ca/radiatinglove. It’s directly through them.
“Radiation is part of therapy for cancer and this run is just love. We just figured it was a pretty good name.”
The run set up Yanchycki’s first charity run on the weekend that doubles as his foot in the door for future charity work.
His goal for this run is to raise $20,000.
“It’s creating awareness and right now it’s cancer, but there are a lot of important diseases out there and I hope with this run people are really able to see it,” said Yanchycki. “Everyone has ideas of things they want to do and I hope it inspires them to take that next step and push forward through it,” he said.
Running alongside friends Kyle Larson-Pendock and Ryan Thornley, Yanchycki said the feedback leading up to his run was positive.
“It has been nothing but support, absolutely,” he said. “It’s just one of those things where it affects so many people and it’s not just people who get cancer personally, it’s their loved ones around them or they know someone who has lost their lives to cancer. It really hits home with a lot of people.”
It hit especially close to home for Thornley.
“He just lost a lifelong friend to cancer Thursday, so the timing is just impeccable for him,” said Yanchycki. “He said ‘I’m going to run the furthest I ever have for my buddy.’”
Born in Winnipeg — the same hometown as Terry Fox — and raised in Portage La Prairie, Man., Yanchycki has called Lethbridge home for the last 10 years, working as a social worker with children’s services.
This year, he was officially taken off the cancer list.
“Which puts me at completely cancer free,” said Yanchycki. “I have been cancer free for a lot of years, but there is a grace period where your chances of it reoccurring are higher. Mine was 10 years, but I’ve been doing so well it was (roughly) eight years after all the treatments. It was this year they completely took me off.”
The deadline to donate to the #radiatinglove run is Nov. 21.
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