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Hi. I'm genegeek (aka Catherine Anderson). Thanks for stopping by. I realized during my PostDoc that I preferred learning and explaining new results to doing science so I started a non-traditional career of teaching and outreach. I'll be using this space to explore public perception of genetics and other cool molecular biology stuff.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Have you heard of Terry Fox? He is a Canadian hero and 30 years ago today (Sept. 1), he had to stop his Marathon of Hope due to a return of his cancer.

I was 10 when Terry Fox started his Marathon of Hope. I had been in hospital a lot and thought it was pretty cool that a sick guy from around Vancouver was out there doing stuff (yeah, that's the kid lens). As I got older, I got a better appreciation for the determination, courage and idealism that he possessed.

“I'm not a dreamer, and I'm not saying this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to.” Terry Fox

Terry Fox lost his leg due to osteosarcoma in 1977. Three years later, at the age of 21, he started a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. He ran a marathon every day! He rested (didn't run) on only 4 of 143 days.

Let's think about this - a marathon every day? If I count up my running mileage, I run a marathon every 2 weeks. So, I'm taking up a new challenge and I invite you to join me. I'm going to run at least 6 days per week until I run 1961 miles. Note: may have to have a few walking days until my mileage increases (see challenge rules)

Why 1961 miles? Terry Fox had run 3339 miles with an estimated 1961 miles left to reach the Pacific Ocean. I was 11 and promised to one day complete the run. As I grew up, I wanted to do something like him but I'm not naturally athletic and there never seemed to be enough time. Now with internet technology, a virtual completion is achievable. I do not want to take any of the credit from Terry Fox or the foundation but I want to satisfy that idealistic wish from my childhood.

Terry Fox was forced to quit when the cancer metastasized to his lungs. He had one tumour that was the size of a golf ball and the tumour in the other lung was the size of a lemon. Again - think about this. I complain when I have a cold but he had large tumours and was running 26 miles a day! Surely, we can all get out there and do something positive whether it is helping our personal health or our community.

Terry Fox died on June 28, 1981 after raising 23 million dollars for cancer research and realizing his dream of $1 donated for every Canadian.

The first annual Terry Fox Run occurred on Sept. 13, 1981 and the annual Terry Fox Run now has millions of participants in over 60 countries and is now the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research; over 500 million dollars has been raised in his name. I have never missed a run - even when sick or overseas, I have managed to finish.

A good description of the Marathon of Hope can be found here. More information, quotes, and donation possibilities can be found at the Terry Fox Foundation website.

A Canadian tribute to Terry Fox. The audio is pure Canadiana - quality and soundtrack.

A more polished version by the American ESPN.

There has been a lot of tributes to Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope. The only thing that I can add is that he is my hero and I hope that I share some of his optimism and perseverance.

Please join me at if you want to start your own running challenge or to donate to cancer research.

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David Manly
Freelance Science Journalist
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Great post, and as your fellow Canadian, I concur. He was one of my heroes as well.
I have never missed a Terry Fox run either, and I wish you the best of luck on completing your goal!

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This is totally awesome. It'll take me a LONG time to reach 1961 miles...but that's ok.

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It will take me about 3 years to reach 1961 miles so I'm asking people to help me out. I'd like to do a team 1961 first and then continue on the personal journey.
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