Marilyn Feir does not necessarily consider her position enviable, but if one is going to deal with a brain tumour, there are worse things that can happen than being invited to be the starting runner at the Beach Terry Fox Run.
Feir was actually diagnosed the day after volunteering at last year’s run.
“I had no idea, absolutely no idea,” she said.
Several weeks ago she finished a round of radiation treatment after the previous chemotherapy failed to produce results. She is back in for testing soon to see whether the radiation was successful, “but I think it was, because I can still do cryptic crosswords,” she said.
Despite the recent treatment, she has no plans to miss this year’s Beach run, where she has volunteered every year since returning to Canada in 2009.
Feir has been taking part in the run since 1991, when she participated in Singapore. That was followed by runs in Sydney and Seoul. Her husband, Jim, became Consul General in Guangzhou, China in 2002, and when she discovered there was no run there, she promptly started one.
“We thought it would be really nice if we could leave a run behind us after we left,” she said.
The first year there were 2,800 participants, and the next year numbers were up to 4,000.
“It was an amazing sight to see all those people in Terry Fox t-shirts, it made you really proud to be Canadian,” she said.
At the run, Feir met a young girl whose brother had just died of cancer. The girl was running in memory of her brother, and it struck Feir that Fox’s legacy was not just Canadian, but a universally inspiring story.
“What an incredible legacy for such a young man to have left behind,” she said. “He wanted to raise one dollar for every Canadian, well he’s surpassed that by a mile.”
Sandra Joyce, one of the organizers of the Beach run, said Feir’s determination and drive are an inspiration, in an event that has no shortage of inspirational stories.
One of the reasons many Canadians feel so passionately about the Terry Fox run is not just because of Fox, but also because the organization so efficiently directs its funds with a bare minimum of operational costs.
“We want people to know that when they’re doing the run or donating to someone doing the run, a high percentage of their money is going directly to research,” said Joyce. “We need to keep going and find new ways to treat this disease.”
The Beach Terry Fox Run takes place on Sunday, Sept. 15, starting at the Woodbine bathing station at Ashbridges Bay. There are no entry fees and no minimum pledge to enter, and participants are welcome to run, walk, wheel or ride either a 5 km or 10 km route. For more information visit terryfox.org/run, or email local organizers care of firstname.lastname@example.org.