Everyone has a different idea of a national hero, and even citizens of the same country will likely have varying answers. As Canadians, the hero we all think of is Terry Fox. As I don’t presume the rest of the world has heard of Terry Fox, I, as a Canadian, feel obligated to tell his over-shared, worn, and incredible story.
Terry Fox was born in 1958 and was an avid athlete throughout his childhood. In high school, Fox took on cross country running, against his will. This decision turned out to be destiny.
After graduating from college, Fox had a car crash that left pain in his right knee. This soreness persisted and a few months later, Fox was diagnosed with osteosarcoma: a type of cancer that is found in the legs. In the hospital he was told that his leg would have to be amputated, he would have to undergo chemotherapy, and if this weren’t enough, he would only have a 50% chance of survival.
In 1980, with a prosthetic leg, he began his historic hop-skip run across Canada, with the goal to raise cancer awareness along with $1 for every 24 million Canadians that he would donate to cancer research.
After 143 days of running and 5,373 km, Fox learned that the cancer had spread to his lungs and that he would not be able to continue. Fox fought the cancer with the force of a nation, but sadly, on June 28, 1981, Canada lost its hero. By order of the government – all flags lowered to half-mast in mourning.
To this day, Terry Fox lives in the hearts of all Canadians. We may become exasperated at the overuse of his name, but that is plainly because he is the purest hero that Canada has ever known.