Terry Fox’s dream of outrunning cancer continues in annual runs across the world, including the Singapore run this Sunday.
By Dawn Seow
“Dreams are made possible if you try,” said the late Terry Fox, a Canadian distance runner and basketball player who suffered from bone cancer. His dream was to run the length of Canada in the hope of increasing cancer awareness and raise funds for cancer research, and despite his illness he pursued his dream.
At the age of 19, Fox, an athlete, was diagnosed with —a form of cancer that often starts near the knees. He was told that his leg had to be amputated and that he would require chemotherapy treatment. At that time, due to the lack of the medical advances that we enjoy today, he only had a 50 percent chance of survival.
But this fiercely determined individual was not beaten by his condition. He went through the amputation, had a prosthetic leg attached and endured 16 months of chemotherapy. It was during his therapy, when he witnessed other cancer patients suffering and dying in the hospital, that he found a new purpose in life —to give back to the medical advances that had given him a chance of survival, and to live his life in a way that would help others find courage.
In 1980, with only one good leg, 22-year-old Fox launched his Marathon of Hope —a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research. His hope was to raise one dollar for each of Canada’s 24 million people at that time. After 18 months of preparation, his marathon started with little fanfare from St. John’s, Newfoundland. Fox ran the equivalent of a full marathon every day, and soon his act of courage began to attract television stations and newspapers. By the time he reached Ontario, Fox had become a national star and had made numerous public appearances with businessmen, athletes, and politicians in his efforts to raise money.
However, Fox did not live to see the fulfillment of his dream. He was forced to end his run outside of Thunder Bay when the cancer spread to his lungs. His hopes of overcoming the disease and completing his journey across Canada ended when he died nine months later.
However, he had by then conquered 143 days of running and covered 5,373 kilometers, an astounding achievement even for perfectly healthy individuals. Fox’s efforts resulted in a lasting, worldwide legacy, the Terry Fox Run. First held in 1981, this annual fundraiser has grown to involve millions of participants in over 60 countries and is now the world’s largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research; to date, over CAD550 million has been raised in his name.
Come Jan. 15, Singapore will be holding the 2012 Terry Run. Jointly organized by the Singapore Cancer Society and the Canadian Association, funds raised will go to the Singapore Cancer Society’s research program. This non-competitive event for walkers, joggers or runners will take place at East Coast Park Big Splash Playground and participants can choose from a five or 10 kilometer route.
Registration is still open till the day of the run, but there are a limited number of official Terry Fox Run T-shirts available.
Terry Fox may not have outrun cancer, but his brave actions continue to contribute to cancer researches all over the world, giving others a chance to outrun cancer one day. If you are keen to participate or support the Terry Fox Run, visit http://www.canadians.org.sg/shop.htm for more information and registration details.