This is a story about the long haul, the journey, and the path of life we travel. This story begins in Winnipeg and ends in British Columbia.
Many years ago when I first heard the name Terry Fox, I had no idea what his journey would mean to me personally.
This tenacious and determined young man was born in Winnipeg Manitoba in 1958. A city I know well as I was born there in 1956. His mother Betty would become a cheerleader and advocate for his cause. Something I can relate to having had the amazing opportunity to do so for my family.
He grew up in Port Coquitlam British Columbia and loved sports. I, on the other hand, have no talent, ability, or joy in participating in sports, but I do admire those who can. Terry competed in basketball and cross country running. He had the mental toughness to succeed. I am in awe of Terry who had this mental toughness and ability at such a young age. In my early years I did not have this kind of confidence.
On March 9, 1977, Terry discovered that he had a malignant tumour in his right leg which resulted in being amputated above the knee. At the time I was planning a September wedding to my high school sweetheart. Terry’s life was impacted by a diagnosis. Mine was starting a life full of adventure and hope, both of us unaware of what life would require of us.
Each of us at different ends of a scale. Both with equal opportunity to dig deep when life goes sideways.
Terry’s hero's journey begins the month of February 1979 as he decides to train for a run across Canada from the east to the west coast to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
April 12, 1980, Terry dips his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean in St. John’s Newfoundland and begins his marathon as he runs 43 km (23 miles) per day which takes him through 6 provinces. I have visited St. John’s Newfoundland as my very dear friend and Soul Genesis mentor resides just outside the city. It is a breathtaking province with beautiful but rugged terrain. I cannot fathom running alongside the highway in winds and weather that can be hurricane quality. Terry did! With his small crew following behind in a van collecting the funds from the scores of people giving what they could. And being there for him when he needed rest.
1980 my life was in the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. My husband’s career had us living in the port city with beautiful Lake Superior and amazing landscapes.
September 1, 1980, after 143 days and 5,373 kilometers (3,339 miles) in a news conference held in Thunder Bay, it was announced Terry’s primary cancer had spread to his lungs and his Marathon of Hope would be suspended while he received treatment.
My husband and I heard this sad news while we were on holiday in Toronto, Ontario. I remember weeping & feeling so sad; my compassion for the handsome, curly-haired young man who brought a nation together in courage and hope. His message to the country was “I’m gonna do my very best. I’ll fight. I promise I won’t give up.”
Sadly on June 28, 1981, Terry died in New Westminster British Columbia just shy of his 23rd birthday.
The Terry Fox Foundation to date has raised over $800 million dollars worldwide for cancer research. Betty Fox, his mother became the spokesperson and familiar face at the events. Before her death in 2011 she had spoken to more than 400,000 school children and her parting words in every speech, “Never, ever give up on your dreams.”
We returned to Thunder Bay one summer on a family vacation. We took our children to view the statue of the young man who they learned about in school. It was a poignant moment and it will be several years before my husband and I return.
As our children grew, we go through life transitions that only family can bring about, many times I had to dig deep into my resources to find strength and courage to fight and not give up.
In 2013 my husband was one of the casualties of the economy and after 16 years working globally for a company found himself in the land of unemployment. It was devastating news however with his skill set he was not too concerned. And the opportunities would come. The wait was on and on and on.
As the realization the economy was not aligning opportunities, we decided in 2015 to relocate to British Columbia. Our destination was not defined – however; we had strong feelings around the Coquitlam or Abbotsford area near to where Terry Fox grew up. The early dream to retire in this province was going to become a reality. Although we were not ready to hang up our businesses we thought it would be a nice gateway to a slower pace for the next transition.
A May injury to my husband's ankle had me doing all the packing and prep work for our big move to British Columbia.
Nothing is going to stop us. My husband has Terry’s mental toughness to succeed and determination to make his dreams come true. I was not sure about my abilities.
We got excited and the sale of our home was to be finalized on Oct 1. Life was about to take a detour. My husband has now been fitted with a walking cast which had created a wound on his foot. Being a diabetic this was a serious development. Our 38th wedding anniversary on September 23 was celebrated in the hospital with the announcement his right leg would be amputated below the knee.
“Hold on….did you say amputated?” We have a move happening, our house is closing in 9 days! The whirlwind of activity that took place and the love that started pouring over us was like a Tsunami.
The surgery took place. And I discovered the universe has your back and I say it with complete utter trust and confidence.
The rehabilitation was quick and my husband was very focused. The goals he had printed on the whiteboard in his room were
-out by Christmas
-driving by February
Which of course he did make happen.
We set up a household in a rented Toronto condo with only the necessary boxes unpacked. We settled into the new life, the hallway of never again and not yet. I was feeling my dreams being crushed. Vaporized.
I was not only in a hallway I was in what felt like the hallway of hell. Of course, I was not alone, my husband felt the weight of how his life would continue from this point in time. Our fear, anxiety, anger, grief was the emotion of the day. Some days we could support each other completely and other days all we could muster was getting out of bed.
I had self-care tools I had been collecting for about 14 years. My journey of spirituality and self-awareness gave me quite the selection. I did from time to time require a friend or mentor to shine some light for me when it got too dark. I had early on decided I would honour myself with what I called “Barbara’s pity party” for a maximum of 15 minutes per day. I could rant, swear, stomp, scream, or cry, and then that was it until the next day. The rest of the day was about moving forward, creating positive moments, planning dreams, and building. I still had clients to work with and I did not want to let them down.
I did learn during this time I did have mental toughness, I did have the courage and I could do anything I put my energy into. Talk about a mind-blowing freaking ah-ha moment! My “pity parties” became fewer and fewer.
As we both healed and life became the new normal British Columbia still beckoned. A few days before our journey west I had a dream. I see Terry Fox running along the highway. He had a distinguishing hop and run and I could see it very clearly.
I felt the determination, the never give up attitude.
It was not myself who could be compared to this young man as it was my husband who had the life-altering amputation.
I was the “crew”, coming along in support.
I am sure Betty Fox had dreams and aspirations for her son and family and then became the spokesperson for others who experience the outcome of cancer.
The night before we arrived in Thunder Bay the decision was made to stop at the Terry Fox memorial site. For me as always when I have returned to Thunder Bay I have a deep connection, a soul connection, and this day was no different. The Sleeping Giant or Nanabijou as it is known in the Ojibway traditions has always held a special place in my heart.
As I approach the park my husband is waiting. Together we join hands and walk along the path up ahead to the statue. So present, so commanding, like Terry, was. We both take our time walking around the statue and each of us wiping tears from our eyes. Each in our own space of what the past few years of this life transition have held. Each of us deep in thought about the young man who brought a country together inspired others to live their dreams and lived a full life. There happened to be a young man just about to leave when I approached and asked if he would mind taking a picture and he says “sure”.
My husband and I with our arms around each other smile, knowing “we won’t give up”, that we will “never, never give up on our dreams.”
I wanted to share this story with you as a message of not just hope, but of community, of love, of courage, and perseverance. Something we continue to experience.
I have surrendered to holding on with tight fists. I am open to allow the space for God or Divine Source, The Universe, or Dude whatever you call the amazing Creating Energy to step in and help unfold my divine soul plan.
I have learned it is ok to seek assistance when you are in the hallway. Sometimes we need an extra pair of eyes or stronger light to see the path and a hand will reach out and let you know you are not alone and is your “crew”. And even when your destination has a different outcome and one you never would have consciously chosen, you can experience joy, love, and excitement in the new one.
Yes, there may be a period of transition and acceptance and this is ok. It is when you look back at the journey and you see all the surprises and gifts along the way you would not have had, or otherwise understood the statement “for your highest good” which becomes very clear indeed.
If you know nothing else, be 100% assured you are not here to struggle, you are here to thrive and you can be a Terry and Betty Fox to someone. A way-shower or a support crew, each and every one of us ordinary people have opportunities to do so.
Don’t give up! And never ever give up on your dreams!