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Editorial

Editorial: The Courage of Terry Fox

Terry Fox was the boy who never gave up. His short life was devoted to achieving his goals. Obstacles just made him try harder. When he learned he had cancer and would lose his leg, he resolved to do something to help other cancer victims. When the disease claimed him on 28 June 1981, he left a legacy of hope that inspired millions to continue his cause.

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Terry Fox Meets Rick Hansen

After meeting Terry Fox at a gym, Rick Hansen asks him to join the Vancouver Cable Cars wheelchair basketball team. Fox practices hard as he learns a different way to play basketball, all while undergoing chemotherapy. By the end of the summer, he is chosen for the team that competes at the 1977 national wheelchair basketball championships. Fox plays with the Cable Cars from 1977 to 1980, winning the national championship in 1978 and 1979. In the 1979–80 season, he is selected to play on the all-star team of the North American Wheelchair Basketball Association.

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Car Accident

Fox rear-ends a truck while driving on the highway. His car is a wreck, but Fox escapes without visible injury. The only problem is a sore right knee, which he assumes he hurt during the crash.

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Training Begins

Fox begins training for the Marathon of Hope. His prosthetist, Ben Speicher, modifies his prosthesis, which is designed for walking, so that it can better withstand the impact of running. Even with the modifications, it is still awkward and uncomfortable. By the end of his 14 months of training, Fox will have run more than 5,000 km.

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Prince George Race

Fox competes in a race in Prince GeorgeBritish Columbia. Although he had originally planned to run in the eight-and-a-half-mile race, he instead runs the 17-mile (27 km) version with friend Doug Alward and brother Darrell. Terry finished last, but only 10 minutes behind the final two-legged runner. Shortly after the race, Fox tells his parents of his plan to run across Canada. His mother, Betty, thinks it is crazy. His father, Rolly, simply asks when he plans to start.

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Leg is Amputated

When Fox is only 18, doctors amputate his right leg 15 cm above the knee. The night before his surgery, Fox’s high school coach, Terri Fleming, gives him a Runner’s World article about Dick Traum, an amputee who had run the New York City Marathon. The following morning, Fox shows the article to nurse Judith Ray. “Someday I’m going to do something like that,” he tells her. He soon begins physiotherapy and a 16-month chemotherapy program at the British Columbia Cancer Control Agency in Vancouver.

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Cancer Diagnosis

In December 1976, during his first year playing basketball at Simon Fraser University, Fox notices a new pain in his right knee. He thinks it is just a cartilage problem, but in early March he wakes up one morning to find he can’t stand. On 4 March 1977, he learns it is a tumour. He is diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, which often starts in the knee and spreads through the muscles and tendons.

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Mile Zero Statue Unveiled in St. John’s

A bronze statue commemorating the moment Fox dipped his leg in the ocean in St. John’s, Newfoundland, is unveiled near the exact spot where it happened. Rolly Fox, Terry’s father, attends the packed ceremony. “It's emotional being here today,” he said. “We were in Thunder Bay when he had to finish, but we wished we'd been at the start of his run.… We saw him off at Vancouver on the 7th of April, 1980, but we wished we'd come with him here.”