Before participants of this year’s Terry Fox run leave the start line in Langley City they will get to hear words of inspiration from the nurse who looked after the Canadian hero while he was in hospital.
Alison Ince, 84, first met Terry Fox at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster in 1977, when he was admitted to have his right leg amputated after a malignant tumor was discovered.
“We were impressed with him,” she recalls. “He was going through all the things you would expect an 18-year-old to go through who suddenly been told he (has cancer) because that’s not something you can take easily.”
Ince said Fox was inspired to run after he read about an amputee runner in a magazine.
“He was a very determined young man and so when he really decided that he was going to do this and run across Canada, I think all of us felt if anybody could do it he could,” said Ince. “He had this real determination about him that I think was quite evident.”
During Fox’s battle with cancer Ince said there wasn’t the type of awareness about the disease there is today.
“If you had lost a limb… you wore long pants and long-sleeve shirts… you never showed it,” she said. “If it were cancer it was called the big ‘c’ and you never talked about it because cancer was seen as being an immediate death sentence.”
Ince believes Fox changed all that.
“All of a sudden here is this young man in a pair of running shorts allowing everybody to see his prosthetic leg,” she said. “So he brought it right up in to the consciousness of people, certainly in this country where it had never been before.”
Cancer is no stranger to Ince or her family either. The Barbados native lost her youngest brother to cancer the same year she learned she was diagnosed with the disease.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and so I proudly wear one of the red shirts,” she said. “When you see red T-shirts at the Terry Fox runs, they are all cancer survivors.”
Five years later Ince’s husband lost his battle to cancer.
“One of the things I learned from [Terry] was that never again could I say to myself ‘well I’m only one person, what can I do about it’ because he was only one person and look what he did and… where he has taken us,” she said.
Ince, a Surrey resident, will be speaking at this year’s Terry Fox run at Langley City on Sunday, Sept. 15 before the 10 a.m. run.
The run in Langley City will be held at 20399 Douglas Crescent and registration will begin at 9 a.m.
Ince said you don’t need to be a runner to support the cause.
“Just the fact that you’re turning up you’re still supporting what he stood for,” she said.