Canada 85/150: Terry Fox

Summer of Hope

By Julia Shears

I was standing at the Terry Fox Monument the other day with a friend and he pointed out to me that Terry would have been 58 this year. It was a moment that I felt the years slip away back to that fateful day when Terry was making his stopover in Thunder Bay. I, like hundreds of other citizens, were lined up along the street waiting to see this brave young man who had left my home province of Newfoundland and was now just outside of the city I had just arrived in to live. As the minutes past beyond his expected arrival time at the hotel, people started to get concerned. You could feel the anticipation and then it was announced that he was taken to the hospital because he was having some health concerns. As we all walked away from the huge gathering of people that had come to cheer him on, I never thought that he would never regain his strength to carry on. The young man who had captured Canada’s heart, with his head of thick curly hair that reminded me of my childhood crush, was at his halfway mark.

I wasn't aware that we shared the same age until my recent trip to the beautiful monument that many Canadians have stopped at, as they make their journeys across this country. It's a proud moment to stand there and know that a young man had the courage and the guts to not let cancer stop him from getting back up.

I was a child when I first heard the word cancer, an eleven-year-old standing in my mother's kitchen when the sad news was given that a young local girl in our small community had breast cancer. Not even sure what that really meant at the time, I remember and never forgot that the next words were, "In our lifetime we will all know someone who will have cancer". I have always been struck by that truth, as cancer has taken so many loved ones from my family and friends since the first time I heard the word.

Terry wanted a cure found, he didn't want others to suffer his fate and he worked to his final days wanting us to be a country that could be the place where cures are found. It saddens me each time I hear of yet another person being diagnosed with this horrible disease. As I stood at Terry's special site in Thunder Bay the other day, I prayed for what he was out there mile after mile doing. Maybe, just maybe this prayer will be answered.

Terry left us with his courageous spirit to stay amongst those of us who know that it's with courage that we face our new tomorrows, whatever they may be. Terry has helped thousands of Canadians who have faced the results that he had been given by his doctor those many years ago. It's someone like him, a true Canadian hero that has made countless lives better by the words and the actions that he shared with us as he made that remarkable journey.


Terry Fox - The Canadian Encyclopedia
About Terry Fox - Terry Fox Research Institute