It was Terry's goal to make lives better for other cancer patients
LONDON, ONT. -- When Terry Fox set out in 1980 to run across Canada, he did it with a specific goal in mind.
“His main goal was to raise money for research but he also was creating an awareness that there was a need for more money for cancer research,” says Terry’s older brother Fred Fox.
Terry set out to raise $1 million for cancer research through his Marathon of Hope.
“Even at that very young age, Terry was very adamant that the money that was raised needed to go to new research,” says Lori Lee, daughter of the late Ron Calhoun. “He had a vision and a discipline that, I can’t compare to anyone else I ever met.”
As the money started to pour in during his run, Lee’s dad, who was the national coordinator for the run, suggested why not aim higher and try for $1 from every Canadian? A goal of $23 million.
Now, 40 years later, that goal has been far surpassed.
“When I think about the accomplishments that came out of this they are almost insurmountable, when we consider that there is over $800 million raised,” says Lee.
That money has helped fund a number of cancer research projects, one being PRecision Oncology For Young peopLE (PROFYLE) led by London paediatric oncologist Dr. Alexandra Zorzi.
“Understanding a cancer at its actual tumour level and tumour DNA level is very exciting.”
Zorzi says the project examines the unique molecular profile of a tumour to identify gene mutation for targeted therapy.
“The ultimate goal though would be to match the tumour's genetic makeup to medication that would actually target the cancer itself.”
Over in Ottawa, another research team funding by the Terry Fox Foundation is working on a study that uses viruses to target cancer cells
“The concept really is to try viruses that will specifically infect and kill cancer cells but leave normal cells unaffected,” says Dr. John Bell, senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.
“The beauty of this if it works, is that you don’t get all the side effects you see with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.”
It’s projects like these - new research - that Terry was running for. It’s safe to say, each step he made was one step closer to saving lives.
Sadly, Terry’s life came to an end on June 28, 1981 at Royal Columbia Hospital in BC.
Surrounded by family and those who had become close to him, Terry was assured that this wasn’t the end, and that his dream and legacy would live on.
“I hugged him goodbye, I walked over to the hospital door and then I turned around and went back to him and hugged him again,” says Bill Vigars, Terry’s campaign manager. “I said 'I love you,' and I said 'I wish I could make you live forever, but Canadians have done that, the world has done that.'”
His annual Marathon of Hope continues. The 2020 run will be held on Sunday, Sept. 20. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the run will be different this year and actually be a virtual event.
Information on how the event works, donations and how to participate can be found here.