Terrance Stanley “Terry” Fox was born on July 28th, 1958. He lived a happy childhood, being the second oldest in his set of 4 siblings. Fox was always very determined, even as a child. Fox’s mother, Betty, fondly remembers him as a toddler stacking these wooden blocks and not stopping until the ask was fully complete; until all the blocks stayed stacked and put. Most children would give up and move onto something else, but not Terry. He would often engage in arguments with father or older brother, and would not stop until the other had given up in exhaustion. Fox was a powerhouse of perseverance and strength; he learned how to be patient, and how to set his mind to something to achieve it at very young age.
At the mere age of 18, Fox was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, (commonly known as bone cancer) and had his right leg amputated in the same year. He faced chemotherapy, and thought that he had beaten cancer. He learned to walk, and then run again with his new prosthesis in place. Fox had significantly changed the way the public viewed the disabled. He was strong, muscular and active as he ever was, with the help of his high school gym teacher, Rick Hanson. Throughout the entire process, he remained athletic, strong, and most importantly, he remained humble. It is so easy to get caught up in depression and anxiety, especially when faced with the difficulties that Fox had.
Fox was insistent to run what he called “The Marathon of Hope” He wanted to run all the way across Canada to raise one million dollars for cancer research. In February of 1979, Fox began to train for the marathon of his life. He was 21, physically fit and ready to take on the most important run of his life. April 12th, 1980 was the first day in which Fox would his journey across Canada. Fox dipped his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean, and began his goal to run across Canada.
During his trek, Fox had met 10-year-old Greg Scott when The Marathon of Hope found itself in Hamilton, Ontario. Scott had waited for three hours in the hot 28-degree sun to meet his hero. Scott had been diagnosed with the same cancer that Fox had, resulting his having his left leg amputated. Fox recalled meeting Scott, and often wrote about Scott in his diary: “Greg rode his bike behind me for about six miles and it has to be the most inspirational moment I have had! At night, we had a beautiful reception in Terrace Bay. I spoke about Greg and couldn’t hold back the emotion”. Scott became Fox’s inspiration to complete the Marathon of Hope. There were kids out there who were suffering from cancer— Fox saw this as something that needs to change.
When the Marathon of Hope had found itself in Thunder Bay, Fox’s health began to decline. His lungs have begun to hurt, but he kept running. He ran until there were no people left, climbed wearily into the van and asked his friend and driver Doug Alward, to drive him to the hospital. Fox had found out that the cancer had now spread from is knee to his lungs; he told reporters about the possible treatments that he might have to undergo, but left with this pledge: “I’ll do everything I can. I’m gonna do my very best. I’ll fight. I promise I won’t give up”. Fox went home to Vancouver to be treated for the second time. Unfortunately, he passed away in June 1981, a mere month away from his 23rd birthday.
The Marathon of Hope is still very much alive, and stronger than ever today. Many schools organize and participate in the “Terry Fox Run” to raise money to donate to cancer research organizations. Thousands of dollars were donated to the cancer fund. It all sprouted with one man, and his dream of beating cancer for later generations. Fox’s life has ended, but his legacy lives on in millions of Canadians. In May of 2016, the Canadian Cancer foundation was proud to announce that over 715 million dollars was raised and donated in honor of Fox’s name. May 2016 was a little over a year ago; that number will only continue to grow over the years to come, marking Fox as a legacy.
Fox’s cancer journey opened not only his eyes, but the eyes of people around him; rather than internalizing the battle, and coming to the slow realization that the fight was not going to end in his favor, Terry Fox made every waking moment into a fight to beat cancer for others who still had a chance. To this day, The Marathon of Hope rings true and strong in the line of Canadian Pride, strength, and most importantly, hope to those who feel hopeless.
Author Bio: Leann Jeethan
Leann Jeethan is a recent English Literature graduate from Southern Ontario. She is a lover of all literature, and adores authors like Anthony Burguess, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. She spends most of her free time reading, writing and catching up on The Walking Dead.
- “Facts About Terry Fox.” The Terry Fox Foundation. Web. 22 July 2017.
- “Fox Touched Hamilton’s Heart.” TheSpec.com. 16 Nov. 2011. Web. 22 July 2017.
- “Journal and Map – Terry Fox.” The Terry Fox Foundation. Web. 22 July 2017.
- “The Early Years – Terry Fox.” The Terry Fox Foundation. Web. 22 July 2017.
- “The Marathon of Hope – Terry Fox.” The Terry Fox Foundation. Web. 22 July 2017.