Last Thursday at the school where I work, hundreds of students ran for Terry. Terry Fox was a true Canadian hero, who at the tender age of 22 passed away from the Cancer that ravaged his body. Before his untimely passing, the cancer spread to the bone and Terry had to amputate one of his legs to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts. So picture this, you’re an eighteen year old kid with one leg and a devastating illness. You don’t know your fate, how long you have left on this earth and the future seems so uncertain. So what did Terry do? Instead of wallowing in self-pity, letting the disease consume him, Terry did what his heart told him to do. His visited children in the hospital who were battling the same battle as him and with the dedication of a true champion, Terry decided to run across our vast nation to raise money for cancer reasearch. He put hope in the lives of those children he visited as well others fighting cancer. His run started in St. John’s Newfoundland on April 12th, 1980 and he headed west. In rain, extreme temperatures of brutal cold and oppressive heat, Terry ran a whopping 26 miles per day. I fondly remember the day he arrived in Toronto. Droves of people went to the city to run with him, get a glimpse, a chance autograph, grab his hand or cheer him on. I remember the footage on the evening news as Terry took a break from his run to swim with a young boy with cancer. Terry was given celebrity status and the rock star treatment, but he never wanted this to get in the way of his vision.
Sadly on September 1st, 1980 Terry had to stop his nationwide marathon in Thunder Bay, Ontario because he was in pain and suffered extreme fits of coughing. The cancer had returned and was spreading to his lungs. As he addressed the nation announcing that he had to return home to BC for further treatment, his altruistic spirit never wavered, disappointment masking physical pain in his eyes that welled up with tears. It was a heartbreaking address to the nation, and I remember thinking, this couldn’t be the end of it all. I’m sure he will beat this.
I posted this today, because like Terry thousands of people are running in the city of Toronto for the annual CIBC Run for the Cure at this very moment. Droves of people are running with pink hair, clothing and banners for those they have lost to breast cancer and for those that are fighting this terrible disease and for those that have survived by winning the battle. Some are running for themselves. They are raising money for life saving research, Terry’s vision of hope ever-present. If you have this disease, or a loved one does, don’t stop running, don’t ever stop fighting. Nourish your body with healthy foods, exercise, pray and affirm that wellness is coming your way.
As a I ran with a tiny five year old girl on Thursday, her pony tail flying in the wind and fists pumping at her sides, she looked up and said to me, “Ms. Longsworth, Terry Fox ran so sick people can get better.”
“Yes Vanessa,” I responded, as I took her tiny hand in mine, “yes he did.”
(dates courtesy of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Fox)