Monday, April 12, 2010

Terry Fox

This is a story I have rarely told.

In the summer of 1980, I was eleven years old. Terry Fox ran through my hometown on his Marathon of Hope. We didn’t go but I wanted to. The next summer, we went on a family trip to Prince Edward Island at the end of June. I remember hearing on the radio, as we waited for the ferry, that Terry Fox had been admitted to hospital and that the end was near for him. The next day, we heard that he had died. We were staying in a bed and breakfast and I sobbed into my pillow in the night and then got up early before anyone else and wrote out my memories of Terry and what his marathon had meant to me.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the start of the marathon that still continues with annual runs. My kids have learned the mythology of the young man and have taken part in mini-versions of the run against cancer.

I don’t think my family ever knew how deeply his story touched me. I’m not sure why I never told them.

My neighbour plans to run a marathon on the last Sunday of this month. He’s a wiry man with stamina and still we’ve heard tales from his son about bleeding toes and tears. Terry Fox ran a marathon every single day, before it was de rigeur to take on such a challenge.

I read somewhere yesterday that Fox’s kind of cancer had a 50% survival rate thirty years ago, and today it has a 90% survival rate. My first thought was to wonder what kind of 52-year old man he would have become. To mourn a life cut short. And then I realized that, though a cure has not been found, cures have been. And many, thanks to funds raised by the inspiration of Terry Fox.

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