BOW VALLEY – Michelle Fuller remembers the day she met Terry Fox 40 years ago in Prince Edward Island.
Fuller was 11 years old and chosen by her school to present the Canadian hero with the money they raised for his Marathon of Hope.
“I was absolutely starstruck and excited. I wore my best dress that day,” said Fuller, who now lives in Canmore. “Of course, at that time, no one knew the legacy he’d leave and impact he would have on Canadians.”
Fox abruptly and sadly ended his Marathon of Hope on Sept. 1, 1980, due to complications with the cancer that claimed his right leg. Under a year later on June 28, 1981, Fox died in hospital in New Westminster, B.C.
Despite current global conditions, the 2020 Terry Fox Run is going ahead with its #OneDayYourWay virtual events Sunday (Sept. 20). Locals can register for the Banff or Canmore runs at www.terryfox.org.
Fox’s journey has inspired many and his story has been very personal for Fuller, who has been affected by cancer three times.
In 1999, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. After years of treatment, chemotherapy and a major surgery to remove her right eye, part of her skull and much of the right side of her face, she was cancer-free until 2012.
At that time, it was discovered the cancer spread into her lungs and brain and she received more treatment, which included removing part of her lung and radiation. In 2013, she had five months of chemotherapy. Then in 2019, the cancer returned to her right middle lobe in her lung, which was partially removed.
Currently, Fuller is cancer-free, and has been working tirelessly towards her goal during the pandemic to raise funds for the upcoming Terry Fox Run with her husband Henri Ferguson.
At the time of the interview, they had walked 1,635 kilometres around the Bow Valley and raised more than $11,000 of the $12,000 goal. She’s hoping to raise more donations for her team, Fuller’s Fighters, by Sept. 20.
“It’s kept me motivated during the pandemic,” she said. “I’ve walked most of the kilometres and I feel like healthiest I’ve been since 1999 since my first diagnosis. I’ve only stopped on days with medical appointments.”
Virtual runs can be completed anywhere and Canmore’s Terry Fox Run organizer Jack Gray said it’s been hard to get the word out this year that the run is still on.
“People are still able to participate, it's just going to be participated differently this year,” Gray said. “A lot of people have a lot different things on their minds and important things on their minds. What we want everyone to remember is there is a Terry Fox run this year.”
Banff organizer Suzanne White said this year is an important milestone for the Terry Fox Run, and 40 years later, Fox’s powerful statement still resonates with people.
“Cancer doesn’t stop for anything,” said White. “We need to continue the fight against cancer and support of cancer research … there’s a lot of hope out there, absolutely. As it’s the 40th anniversary, I think there’s a lot of awareness out there, but it’s trying to let people know what’s happening with everything else that’s going on.”
Funds raised from the run go to the Terry Fox Foundation for cancer research. Fuller, who’s been a Terry’s Team Member for the past 15 years, said she’s had two doctors funded through the foundation.
She and her husband will continue to walk in the hopes of raising as much awareness and funds for the foundation as possible.
“I’m a direct recipient of that the money that’s been raised through the foundation,” Fuller said.
“I’m very inspired by Terry Fox and the foundation and I just want to give back and do as much as I can to have a world without cancer.”