Terry Fox Run returns to St. John's in person for first time since pandemic

·2 min read
Cancer survivor Jessica Ivany, right, and her mother Rosemary attend the 2022 Terry Fox Run. Without cancer research and technological advancement, Ivany says, like Fox, she could have lost her leg. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC - image credit)
Cancer survivor Jessica Ivany, right, and her mother Rosemary attend the 2022 Terry Fox Run. Without cancer research and technological advancement, Ivany says, like Fox, she could have lost her leg. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC - image credit)

For Jessica Ivany, the weekend's 42nd annual Terry Fox Run at Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John's was important because of a pair of milestones.

One is that it was the run's first time being held in person in three years, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The other upcoming milestone is more personal. Like Terry Fox, Ivany had cancer in her right leg. Unlike Fox, her cancer was in muscle rather than bone.

"Dec. 27 — when that comes up — I will have 10 years of being cancer-free," Ivany said.

She's part of "Terry's Team" — for cancer survivors — and, except for the pandemic years when runs were virtual, she has attended runs for the last six or seven years.

Fox started his Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research in April 1980, dipping his leg in the Atlantic Ocean in St. John's.

Fox ran nearly a marathon a day for 143 days. He was trying to run across Canada to his home province of British Columbia but was forced to cut the journey short in Thunder Bay, Ont., in September 1980 when the cancer returned, this time in his lungs.

Canadian hero

Ivany said without cancer research and technological advancement, Ivany said, she also could have lost her leg — or even died. She said the fundraising for the Terry Fox Run, and the research it supports, is very important.

"If we look at Terry Fox back in 1980, we did not have the technology the way we do now," Ivany said. "So it's very, very important that people donate and continue to contribute to cancer research," she said.

Ivany calls Terry Fox one of the most important people in Canadian history.

"I'm sure at that time he had no idea that he was going to have such an impact."

Jeremy Eaton/CBC
Jeremy Eaton/CBC

Run organizer Modeline Longjohn says they've been planning the event for months, and for good reason: she's one of the people who conducts cancer research with funds from the Terry Fox research institute.

"We're looking for better ways to be able to track pediatric leukemia, and so the money is going to research and I'm involved in the research myself," said Longjohn, originally from Nigeria, who moved to Newfoundland and Labrador to complete her PhD.

She said it was exciting to see people run in person — about 100 people turned out — rather than online. More than 40 years after Fox first start running, she said his story is still inspiring.

"That much dedication, that much drive, even though he was in pain, being sick and all of that, it's really inspirational to me," she said.

"It drives me."

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