Terry Fox Cancer
Charity

Terry Fox – A Story Of Making A Difference

When doctors diagnosed Terry Fox with bone cancer in his right knee at the age of 18, many knew it would change his life forever, but nobody knew how it would end up changing the country. Amazing!

The diagnosis came out of the blue, with the teenager waking up to what felt like an unusually dead leg. However, when he visited the doctors the very same day, he was told he had a malignant tumor. The procedure to amputate his leg 15 cm above his knee followed swiftly just four days later. After a year and a half of agonizing treatment and recovery, the determined young man decided not to let the terrible news hold him down.

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Image Credit: Terry Fox, Anything’s Possible, Terry Fox Foundation. YouTube, 2018.

Running Across The Country For Charity

Downtrodden but not defeated Fox launched a fundraiser, he dubbed ‘The Marathon of Hope,’ to run across Canada with the aim of raising as much money as he could for Cancer Research; a figure that he targeted at 1 million Canadian dollars. The run started uneventfully on April 12th 1980. Not many people know about his quest, however that didn’t stop him taking on 42km / 26.2 miles per day; a distance equivalent to a full marathon every 24 hours.         

The challenge would have been enough to make any regular person quit. The location and time of year was cold, wet and dreary, furthermore, Terry ran from in a westerly direction and thus faced headwind fighting against him most days. But on top of this punishing test of endurance, Terry had to content with the very rudimentary prosthetics of the era; a task in itself that would prove mentally and physically taxing.

Specialist running prosthetics did not yet exist, and for the regular walking prosthetics that were available, very little if any additional comfort was used, especially when compared with today’s standards. This led to intensely painful injuries in which Terry’s skin would break open and bleed from the constant hammering pressure.

Terry Fox A Story Of Making A Difference
Image Credit: Terry Fox, Anything’s Possible, Terry Fox Foundation. YouTube, 2018.

Milestones in Terry Fox’s Paradigm Shifting Life

The huge milestones were instrumental in helping Terry become the voice and inspiration everyone loves and misses to this day.

The first occurred during his run, on a day that seemed as normal as any other day along the trek. His course took him through a town of 10,000 residents who took it upon themselves to each donate 1 dollar to the cause, a gesture that would mark the most money he’d ever made on the road to date and also lead him to raise his target from raising 1 million dollars to raising 24 million—1 dollar for every Canadian.

This feeling of support grew as more Canadians finally began to hear his plight. The more he ran, the more he would come out to greet and cheer him along as he ran through their local cities, towns, and villages. When he arrived in Toronto, crowds of hundreds and thousands turned up to show their support.

The second inspirational motivator came when doctors decided to assign Terry to the children’s ward, where he was surrounded by the positive, uplifting spirits of others the same age, all of whom were sadly going through the same traumatic experience. Sharing this time with the very few who truly understood what each was going through turned out to be a life-changing period for Fox, who, when recalling his time at the children’s ward, said, “I had the most inspirational day of my life today.”

The third came when Terry was 22 when he became the youngest person to be awarded the country’s most prestigious award, The Order of Canada. This moment finally saw others recognize his near herculean efforts to live life fully and help as many people as humanly possible.

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Image Credit: Terry Fox, Anything’s Possible, Terry Fox Foundation. YouTube, 2018.

Sept 3rd, after having run 3339 miles, Terry collapsed and asked to be taken to the hospital. In a sad twist of fate the cancer had spread to his lungs, and was severe, enough so the run had to be cancelled, and Terry undergo further treatment. 

Thanks to Terry’s publicized achievements, many got to hear his touching words that would constantly advocate the improvement of Cancer Research projects to help patients worldwide, especially the thousands of children diagnosed with cancer each year.

Establishing Terry Fox Foundation

In memory of his selfless efforts, the Terry Fox Foundation was established to provide a platform where those with similar goals can follow in the footsteps of one of Canada’s most beloved fundraisers. Each year, thousands of schools participate in the ‘Terry Fox Run,” a charity fun run that has donated over 800 million dollars to cancer research since it was founded in 1988.

It’s important to note that establishing the Terry Fox Foundation is not the only thing that can and should be attributed to Terry, and his actions deserve a whole other level of praise.

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Image Credit: Terry Fox, Anything’s Possible, Terry Fox Foundation. YouTube, 2018.

Talking about cancer was quite taboo, not many people dared converse about such matters in public, which effectively prevented fundraising projects and even the creation of support groups. Instead, patients were left with very little in the way of emotional support, had very limited access to any informational resources. But Fox’s work changed all that. It was only after his life’s work became the subject of admiration and empathy did public perception shift to accept talking about cancer openly and without shame.

To mark his achievement, Terry initially had the goal of pouring water collected from the Atlantic Ocean in Newfoundland into the Pacific Ocean waters surrounding his hometown of Vancouver in a symbolic gesture to unite both sides of the country. Terry didn’t complete that journey, but he did complete another goal, he changed the country, he brought more attention to an all too common disease, and his efforts continue to aid organizations like Cancer Research to help improve and save the lives of thousands of cancer sufferers each and every year. In fact, as of 2010, the Terry Fox Foundation had raised over 500 million dollars.

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