PORTRAIT OF TERRY FOX
"It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death ... We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity".
- Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau,
addressing the House of Commons after Terry Fox’s death.
Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope have united Canadians not only in raising money for cancer research, but also to persist against seemingly insurmountable odds for the good of those around them. The night before his right leg was removed because of a malignant tumour, an article about an amputee runner inspired him and, within four years, dipped his foot in the Atlantic Ocean and began his trek west across Canada. In 1979, he wrote to the Canadian Cancer Society asking them to support his run, stating: “I’m not a dreamer, and I’m not saying this will initiate any definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to.” After running for 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (stopping just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario), he learned that his cancer had spread to his lungs and flew to British Columbia for treatment. Just before he left, he told the press: “I’m going to do my very best. I’ll fight. I promise I won’t give up.”
Portrait of Terry Fox is about one person’s individual courage and persistence in the face of overwhelming odds. He didn’t believe in limits and that he was less of a person because of cancer or a lost limb, but he didn’t view himself as a hero either. In his mind, he was Terry Fox from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia making a difference in the only way he knew how. From the Marathon of Hope website, he was “average in everything but determination.”