For the first time in many years, yesterday I participated in the Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research and am proud to say I completed (walked) the whole 10 km pushing a stroller and in the company of my three nieces aged 8, 6, and 4. For them and many Canadians, the Terry Fox Run has become an annual family tradition. For others world-wide, it has been a life saver. The run, organized by the Terry Fox Foundation, is a huge fund raiser for cancer research and one of the most efficient sources of funding, since only a very small proportion of the money raised goes to actually operating the events or advertising. I imagine this is because Terry Fox is a Canadian icon, one of our most admirable heros, and needs little in the way of introduction or promotion.
Terry Fox was a young man who, at age 19, lost his right leg to osteosarcoma (bone cancer). He took it upon himself to run a marathon across Canada, the Marathon of Hope, from coast to coast, to raise money for cancer research. He started at the Atlantic and ran 143 days, covering 5373 km, making it as far as Thunder Bay before having to stop because the cancer had spread to his lungs. A monument to Terry towers on a hill over Thunder Bay, to remind us of his dedication and bravery.
Millions of Canadians had watched his efforts and cheered him on, and now, every year, people worldwide run, walk, ride and even rollerblade in his honor and in his memory in the world's largest single day fundraiser for cancer. Terry is also remembered through the many awards and agencies named in his honor. One example of these is the BC Cancer Agency's Terry Fox Laboratory, currently focusing their research on cancer stem cells. Chances are, if you are involved in cancer research, in universities, hospitals, institutes and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, you have at one time or another had your work influenced by Terry Fox, whether it be by directly obtaining funding, or by building on the discoveries of others who have.