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Terry Stanley Fox was born July 28, 1958, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Rolland and Betty Fox. He had an older brother Fred and a younger brother and sister, Darrell and Judith. Rolland was a switchman for the Canadian National Railway. Terry’s mother Betty said that as a toddler he stacked wooden blocks tirelessly. If they fell he would try again and again. Terry also loved games that lasted very long, teaching him to have a lot of patience. Fox could play with himself for hours and hours and not get tired because he had a lot of perseverance. His father recalled that he was extremely competitive and hated losing more than anything, so if he ever lost, he would try and practice so much, so he could finally win. Terry’s mother was very protective of her children, but it was terry’s stubbornness that let him do the tasks he wanted. His family moved to Surrey, British Columbia, in 1966, then settled in Port Coquitlam, in 1968.
On November 12, 1976, as Fox was driving to the family home at Morrill Street in Port Coquitlam, he became distracted by nearby bridge construction and crashed into the back of a pickup truck. He couldn’t drive his car anymore since it was destroyed, but Terry was lucky that he made it out there alive, the only damage that had been happened to him was that he had a sore right knee. He felt the pain again in December, but he chose to ignore it until the end of the basketball season. By March 1977, the pain in his right knee was uncontrollable, and he was forced to be sent to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of cancer that often starts near the knees. Fox believed his car accident weakened his knee and left it vulnerable for the disease to take over, though his doctors argued there was no connection. He was told that his leg had to be amputated and he would require chemotherapy treatment. The chances of surviving that treatment were 50-percent. Fox learned that two years before, the chances of surviving the treatment would have been only 15 percent; the improvement in survival rates impressed him and he understood the value of cancer research. With the help of an artificial leg, Fox was walking for three weeks after the amputation. He then continued playing golf with his father. Doctors were impressed with Fox’s positive outlook, stating it contributed to his rapid recovery. He endured sixteen months of chemotherapy. Fox ended his treatment with a new purpose: he felt he owed his life to medics and wished to live his life in a way that would help others find courage. The night before his cancer surgery, Fox had been given an article about Dick Traum, the first amputee to complete the New York City Marathon. The article inspired him; he went on a 14-month training program, telling his family that he planned to compete in a marathon himself. In private, he made a more extensive plan. His hospital experiences had made Fox angry at how little money was given to cancer research. He intended to run the length of Canada in the hope of increasing cancer awareness, a goal he only told his friend Douglas Alward. Fox ran unusually. He was required to hop-step on his good leg and his artificial leg required to reset after each step. He found the training painful as the additional pressure he had to place on his good leg and his stump led to bone bruises, blisters and intense pain. Fox found that after about 20 minutes of each run, the run became easier. On September 2, 1979, Fox competed in a 17-mile (27 km) road race in Prince George. He finished in last place, ten minutes behind his closest competitor, but his effort was met with tears and applause from the other participants. Following the marathon, he told his full plan to his family. His mother discouraged him, angering Fox, though she later came to supported him. She recalled, ‘He said, ‘I thought you’d be one of the first persons to believe in me.’ And I wasn’t. I was the first person who let him down’. Fox initially hoped to raise $1 million, then $10 million, but later sought to raise $1 for each of Canada’s 24 million citizens.
The Marathon began on April 12, 1980, when Fox dipped his right leg in the Atlantic Ocean near St. John’s, Newfoundland, and filled two large bottles with ocean water. He kept one as a souvenir and pour the other into the Pacific Ocean upon completing his journey at Victoria, British Columbia. Fox was supported on his run by Doug Alward, who drove the van and cooked meals. Fox was met with forceful winds, heavy rain and a snowstorm in the first days of his run. The first place he arrived upon was Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, where the town’s 10,000 residents presented him with a donation of over $10,000. Throughout the trip, Fox frequently angry and frustrated because of those he saw preventing the run, and he fought regularly with Alward. By the time they reached Nova Scotia, they were barely spoken with each other, and it was arranged for Fox’s brother Darrell, to join them as a buffer. Fox left the Maritimes on June 10 and faced new challenges entering Quebec due to his group’s inability to speak French and drivers who continually forced him off the road. Fox arrived in Montreal on June 22, one-third of the way through his 8,000-kilometre (5,000 mi) journey, having collected over $200,000 in donations. Fox crossed into Ontario at the town of Hawkesbury on the last Saturday in June. He was met by thousands of residents who were lined up in the streets to cheer him on, while the Ontario Provincial Police escorted him throughout the province. Despite the heat of summer, he continued to run 26 miles (42 km) per day. On his arrival in Ottawa, Fox met Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and was the guest of honour at sporting events in the city. In front of 16,000 fans, he performed a ceremonial kickoff at a Canadian Football League game and was given a standing ovation. As he approached the city Thunder Bay on September 1, Terry Fox had run 3339 miles. It was at this white marker that he asked to be taken to the hospital.
Doctors there examined terry’s lungs and found out, that cancer had returned. He had a tumour in each of his lungs. Days later Terry was sent to the hospital and died 4:35 a.m on June 28, 1981.
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