When Brittany Murray was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a cancer of the bone, in her knee, she feared two things: not being able to play sports, losing her hair.
Her 13 year old brain didn’t take in the potential mortality of this cancer. It had taken one of Terry Fox’s legs; it had ultimately taken his life.
But today, thanks to millions of dollars in research raised in Terry’s name, Brittany isn’t facing amputation. She has both her legs, plus bone made from donated marrow, plus pins and rods in her knee. And while she not yet at the sports stage (snowboarding rules!), she’s walking in two weeks to commemorate Terry Fox.
Brittany is 16. Terry Fox would have turned 46 in July.
The run is working. Hundreds of people in Barrie respond to the annual opportunity to raise pledges and join their neighbours to walk or run or wheel Barrie’s waterfront to raise money for research and cure. If the event goes the way organizers are hoping, Barrie’s contribution to the Terry Fox run since 1983 could reach the $1 million mark. So far our community grand total (not including school efforts) totals $749,752.
On September 19, at 8:30 am, Brittany Murray will join dozens of other cancer survivors at the Dedication Board. She’s there to help people dedicate their “runs” to cancer survivors, or victims in their lives. She’s there to listen. To talk. To celebrate. To connect participants to that remarkable, curly-headed moppet whose energy and spirit touched a nation a 25 years ago.
Along with Brittany will be Colleen Kelly-Desrochers, long known as the Big Sisters social worker. Colleen has known and battled cancer with biopsies and surgeries for the past 28 years. She knows that early detection has saved her life repeatedly. This year she got her final discharge from Princess Margaret Hospital. Without the progress made by research dollars, Colleen’s diagnosis and treatment and outcome could have been very different.
After meeting people at the Dedication Board, Colleen and her husband and family will walk and run the route. Retired from Big Sisters, Colleen is now a personal trainer at the Y and proud of her health, and her physical conditioning. She’ll be writing three names on the Dedication Board, women whose fight with cancer hasn’t turned out as positively as her own. Lyn Kennedy. Elaine Davie. Barb Osborne. Colleen participated late August in the city’s Dragon Boat races, one of the critical anchors of the Ribbons of Hope team. Two of last year’s paddlers are gone and members took a moment to remember.
Cancer survivors, and victims, their families and friends can dedicate a Metre of Memory at this year’s Terry Fox Run. For $25, a personalized sign bearing the name of a loved one will be placed every 250 metres along the route. It’s an active way to contribute to Terry’s Marathon of Hope.
Many cancer sufferers walk or run or work at the Terry Fox Run. Many have stories that are poignant, peaceful, and celebrate happy outcomes. Many continue their battle on the personal front, and raise money for a cure on the larger front.
Brittany, a grade 11 student at Elmvale District High School now, is hoping that each student in her school will pledge $1 through the school. She’s also hoping people will use her mother’s email address and send in a pledge for her effort… Pledge for Brittany should be in the subject line and email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry’s Team members will be front and centre at the September 19 event; they’re the cancer sufferers who are working for a cure and they have the best reason in the world to do so. You’ll see them in their Terry’s Team T-shirts… smile, and say “congratulations.”
Joan Thomson has worked on Terry Fox runs sinced 1983, first as a school teacher, then 18 years as a run committee member and since her teaching retirement, she’s served as chair. Why? Because one in three Canadians battle this disease. Because her friends have died from cancer. And, like Terry, she believes that her efforts will help the hurting to stop.
It was 25 years ago that Terry dipped his foot in the Atlantic Ocean and ran 42 kilometres a day, his prosthesis echoing the movements of his own leg. 42 kilometres a day. He got half way across Canada, the recurrence of his disease forcing him to abandon his run at Thunder Bay after running 5,000 kilometres. He died June 28, 1981. He was 22 years old. The first Terry Fox Run was held two months later; it raised $3.5 million. To date over $340 million has been raised by “running” for Terry Fox.
Abandon? No, Terry. The country has picked up your race. Canadians have taken your dream as their own. And on September 19, Brittany, Colleen, Sybil, Allison, Kathy, Glenn, Maxine, Adam, June–all genders, all ages, all sizes, will be Terry’s Team members there to spur you on.
It wasn’t a race. It was a run.
Thanks, Terry. Thanks, Brittany. Thanks, Colleen.
To pledge a runner, you can email Brittany, or you can collect pledges online at www.terryfoxrun.org. You can download a pledgeform on the same website, or pick one up at fitness centres and Barrie businesses or by emailing chair Joan Thomson at email@example.com. You can buy a memory metre from Joan at 737-3675.