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Terry Fox remains a hero to couple who are both battling cancer
Sharon Armstrong and David Yanor have spent the past 30 years believing Terry Fox was a true Canadian hero.
Their admiration and appreciation of what the Canadian icon did during his Marathon of Hope back in 1981 has grown exponentially since they each began their own battle with cancer.
Armstrong and Yanor are not only involved in a burgeoning relationship, but they are both battling cancer.
Armstrong, who lives in Summerland, visited Yanor in Osoyoos this past Sunday morning to participate in the Osoyoos Terry Fox Run.
A total of 40 participants, including most of the players with the Osoyoos Coyotes hockey team, took part in this year’s event, which kicked off early Sunday morning at the Sonora Community Centre.
“What Terry Fox accomplished was nothing less than heroic,” said Yanor, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer four years ago. “He was an incredibly ordinary man who possessed an extraordinary drive to try and do something special to raise money for cancer research.
“Even 32 years after his death, I remain in awe of what he accomplished and what a difference he made in this country and around the world.”
Armstrong, who was diagnosed with cancer in her left kidney back in 2007, shared the same kind of sentiments.
“He’s my biggest hero and what he did during his Marathon of Hope was simply amazing,” she said. “To run the equivalent of a full marathon on one leg each and every day for several months remains almost beyond comprehension to me to this day.
“He never complained and he never stopped until his cancer returned. I have no doubt whatsoever, and neither does anyone who truly knew Terry, that he would have finished his dream and ran across Canada is his cancer had not returned and forced him to quit.”
Yanor said he grew up near Vancouver and can still remember a young man who had yet to become famous training in Port Coquitlam back in the summer of 1980.
“I was an avid runner back then and I can still remember seeing this young guy hobbling along on one leg in and around Port Coquitlam,” he said. “It was 1980 and I had no idea who he was back then, but obviously every Canadian got to know exactly who he was because of his Marathon of Hope.”
Yanor said he has tried to participate in the Terry Fox Run as often as he can over the past several years because the event provides an opportunity to remember and honour a truly heroic Canadian.
“He touched the hearts of all Canadians in a way that no one has come close to achieving over the past 32 years,” said Yanor. “I know most Canadians wept real tears of sorrow when he died at such a young age and all of us who were around during his Marathon of Hope and at the time of his death will never forget him.”
Armstrong said she has enjoyed helping organize a couple of Terry Fox Runs in Summerland the past few years and was thankful to be able to join her boyfriend to participate in the Osoyoos event on Sunday.
Fox died less than two weeks after one of her daughters was born and she always remembers him while celebrating her daughter’s birthday, she said.
“Fifty years from now I really hope Canadians are holding these Terry Fox Runs and I hope people from around the world won’t forget who he is or what he accomplished,” she said. “He was so young when he died, but he became a national hero because he decided to do the impossible and cross our huge country on one leg.
“He made a real difference and I won’t ever forget him, I know that much.”
Paul Eisenhut, 84, said he wanted to be part of the local Terry Fox Run after being diagnosed with cancer recently and having to participate using his scooter.
“I’ve got cancer of the bladder and I just finished by 20th round of radiation and I’m not feeling all that great, but I didn’t want to miss this,” he said smiling. “My wife Anne helped organize the first Terry Fox Run in Osoyoos about 20 years ago and I wanted to be part of this because of her as well.”
Eisenhut, the founder of Eisenhut Insurance in Osoyoos, donated $200 to the worthy cause.
He also greatly admires what Fox accomplished then and now.
“His courage and determination was simply unbelievable,” he said. “He was a great young man and great Canadian and he should never be forgotten.”