I, like many other Canadians I suspect, got a little emotional when I heard of the passing of Terry Fox’s mother Betty last week.
The very public coverage of Terry’s cancer research run halfway across Canada, and his heart-rending announcement, with his mother standing behind him, that his cancer had re-emerged, and forcing the end of his run and eventually leading to his death the next year, still resonates 30 plus years later.
But my sadness upon hearing the passing of Betty Fox can be traced to a local occasion.
I recall Betty Fox being invited to speak to Vanier High School students a few years back, prior to the school’s annual Terry Fox Run.
Mrs. Fox, in her speech to the students, spoke with the humility and wisdom of a mother. She highlighted that her son Terry was NOT some superhuman nor had he been a perfect teenager.
On the contrary, she went on to say that Terry had been a typical teenager just like any of the Vanier students, with moods, stubbornness and passions. But, she concluded, he was stubborn enough to have a dream to run across Canada to help conquer cancer.
I recall vividly the silent gym, students riveted to this mom, who had just connected each one of them to her son by stating that he was human like the rest of us.
And, that each of them despite being human was capable of accomplishing extraordinary things as well!
It was reported in the newspapers last week that Betty Fox spoke to approximately half a million students over the years, likely making that same speech. She lost her son publicly with dignity.
And, she carried his dream on for 30+ years with the Terry Fox Foundation. It was also stated that due in a large part to funds raised for research through the Terry Fox Foundation, the type of cancer Terry had is today, in most cases, treatable.
On Canada Day this year, I will reflect on a recent loss in my family and reflect on the passing of Betty Fox. In my mind, Canada had two heroes from the Fox family, Terry and his mother Betty.
Rest in peace, Mrs. Fox, and thank you.