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EDITORIAL: Participation, inspiration mark event


It can be an interesting exercise to think of a person of significance in our history and imagine how different the world might be if they hadn’t existed, or hadn’t entered public view.

Imagine if Terry Fox hadn’t been introduced to Canadians coast-to-coast all those years ago when, undaunted by how cancer had affected him, he carried on his Marathon of Hope. Everyone was touched by his courage and his determination that this disease can be beaten.

Here we are, 37 years later, and communities across Canada including a number in Pictou County this weekend will be hosting Terry Fox runs, still very much inspired by this young man, still raising money for the cause. Millions of people in more than 20 countries around the world also participate.

We have many cancer fundraisers, to be sure, to help fight a disease that touches so many people directly, and pretty much everyone at least indirectly. But this particular event – a family and community affair, run, walk, skate, cycle, as you wish – is one of those high-profile ones that motivates a lot of people and reminds them of the research still needed for treatment, and to find a cure.

Many schools hold their own separate event, a good opportunity to get young people involved in understanding special health challenges and knowing they can help address them.

When Terry Fox set out on that mammoth journey in 1980, he expressed a fairly simple, straightforward intention. What if everyone gave a dollar toward cancer research? At the time, with the population of Canada, it would have seemed an astronomical potential sum. It was an optimistic projection from a young man who simply knew he wouldn’t let himself be beaten by a pernicious disease, that he was ready, willing and able to fight.

In hindsight, that hypothetical dollar a person to go toward cancer research was a modest one. Terry and the example he set have been at the heart of raising many, many times that amount.

But beyond that, the inspiration he ignited that something must be done, and can be done, to help conquer this disease has touched so many.

The Terry Fox Run has of course experienced its fluctuation in various communities, on occasion with participation dipping, or perhaps times a hiatus when there’s a need for new organizers to step forward.

But to see an event like this carry on as it has over the years is nothing short of amazing, a testament to the power of the original dream.

Cancer takes many forms, and so does the treatment and research. Achieving a “cure” is not straightforward. But considering strides made, and the numbers who do survive and become cancer-free now, compared to decades ago, we have made up a lot of ground.

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