Terry Fox ran an average of 42 kilometres per day for 143 days during the Marathon of Hope. (terryfox.org)

Wolf: Terry Fox was a true Canadian hero

Annual run ensures legacy still growing

The word ‘hero’ is often bandied about.

It’s often misused.

I’ve shared this story before. It’s worth sharing, annually.

It’s been 38 years since a young man with one leg and an immeasurable heart began his Marathon of Hope – a run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. It seems like yesterday, so the 38 years is hard to believe.

And I still have trouble believing it’s been more than 30 years since cancer claimed the life of my mother.

She was 44 years old.

So a time when vapid schlubs who are ‘famous for being famous’ are looked up to by our youngsters, it’s always important to remember what a true Canadian hero is all about.

Terry Fox was – and is – a Canadian hero. My mom was always my hero.

Initially diagnosed with cancer as a teen, Fox was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them young children, he decided to embark on his epic journey.

It was a journey Canadians never forgot – and one we must never forget.

Even though Fox succumed to the insidious disease at age 22 in 1981 (after running for 143 days and covering 3,339 miles), his legacy lives on.

More than $700 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Fox’s name through the annual Terry Fox Run, held across Canada and around the world.

I participated in the first half-dozen runs without really understanding their true significance. Now, sadly, I do.

Almost all of us can point to someone close to us who has battled cancer.

My mom was the bravest person I’ve ever known. Racked with pain but never complaining, urging us to move forward and honour her memory.

Your mom isn’t supposed to die when you’re just a kid. She’s supposed to be around to spoil your own kids.

I still struggle with the fact my mom – who was then the most important person in my life – didn’t get to see her grandchildren, the most important person in my lives of myself and my siblings.

I know she’s watching – though it will never be enough.

I’ve spoken to a wide variety of cancer patients over the years, and they all shared that same courage.

Even the children show amazing fortitude in the face of something which surely isn’t fair.

It’s for them that we must continue to remind future generations about a true hero.

When my grandchildren ask me about Terry Fox, I want to be able to say he was a great Canadian who helped us crush a vile disease. And when they ask me what ‘cancer’ is, I can direct them to their grandmother, who can entertain them with tales of astrology.

So much progress has been made in terms of fighting many types of cancer. So much more needs to be done.

So this weekend, please support the annual run in your community. Visit www.terryfox.org/ for more details.

Please don’t forget about Terry Fox’s dream.

Philip Wolf is the managing editor for the Vancouver Island Free Daily. You can reach him via email at philip.wolf@blackpress.ca or on Twitter @philipwolf13

 

Claire Scott, left, and Adana Backe take part in a group warmup exercise prior to the start of Parksville’s Terry Fox Run at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park Sunday morning, Sept. 17, 2017. (J.R. Rardon photo)

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