National Kids Cancer Ride

Day 9 -Atikokan to Thunder Bay, Ont

Today was a great day but totally emotional.  We started off at the wonderful Native community of Atikokan.  Every year we stop here & we are treated to the best steel cut oatmeal I have ever had. I don’t even like oatmeal but I sure like this!  Maybe it’s the warmth in my belly or the love that it is served with.  Whilst I was eating I noticed a new paining on the wall that I had never seen there before. The wording below it is Native & it just so happens to mean “Bring our children home”. How fitting given our mission on the road.  I sure wish we could bring all the children back home……just not going to happen without some effort…people like you & me….& Terry Fox.

Upon leaving Atikokan, the riders battled the wind & rain again. Tough day for them but you know they don’t complain.  All you have to think is the word “chemo” & they dig deeper & keep pedalling & pedalling.  We cheered them on in costumes again & tried to make them smile along the way to give them some extra strength. However, today we were heading to the Terry Fox memorial towards the end of the day so I know that was inspiration in itself.

There is so much I can tell you about Terry Fox & I will …..but before I do, I need to share the quiet magic of the memorial site. Every time I go there I am struck by the beauty & location. It overlooks Lake Superior & you can see for miles & miles. In fact Terry’s statue is place up high so that it appears he is looking out over the world. Even though I have been here many times, this time the immensity of what Terry did & what I have personally gone through (with the loss of my son to cancer) just hit me hard. I ugly cried. & then I ugly cried some more. Shit I was not expecting that. I had wanted to just bathe in the solace of the place…but instead I was sad & angry. Sad at the loss of my child & so many others, and angry that we have not yet made enough change over the years to save more children.  Thank god I am doing this ride….at least I feel like I can be instrumental to the changes we so badly need. I hope I can inspire others to join in the fight.

So…back to Terry & his fight….The following is from a blog I wrote 2 yrs ago but I feel it pertinent to share this again….

Terry Fox – Canadian icon. Also a victim of pediatric cancer.
I remember seeing him on television when he did his run. I also had the honor of meeting his father Rolly Fox  in BC during the 2015 NKCR ride. He made the effort to come & see us at a lunch stop & we talked for a bit. He personally told me that when Terry was initially diagnosed & in hospital, he was in a ward with a number of other children younger than himself & he was so saddened at seeing other children ridden with cancer. It was just wrong in so many ways. So this is what triggered him into motion to do his run……& with one leg (the other had been amputated due to his cancer). …All with the aim to raise monies for cancer. He was just a boy himself but he had the attitude that anyone can make a difference if they try. He had the mentality that if every Canadian gave just $1 each-imagine what could be done for research. He was so selfless.
When he first started his run, it was just he & a support vehicle & someone holding out a hat for donations. Little did he know how the momentum would gather. The press got bigger & bigger as he went along & the world now knew who Terry Fox was & what he was trying to achieve. Every day he literally ran (or hopped along) the equivalent to a marathon. I could not imagine doing that day after day & with only 1 real leg. Holy moly!! I remember how he ran & how he held clenched fists. He was in constant pain. He had tears streaming down his cheeks. The statue of him at Thunder Bay even depicts the tears he shed.
The monies raised over the years & since his death in 1981 have been in the millions. He truly was remarkable & deserves the title of a true Canadian icon.

Another thing that struck me as I stood in front of his monument was that Terry truly united all Canadians together in a way that had not been truly done before. He epitomized hope for all.  When I first heard of Terry back in the 1980’s, I did not grasp the full scope of his intentions. I just thought he was really cool. Now that I know what I know & have been touched by cancer in so many ways, I get it.  After my son died in 2014, I had a choice to make. My hope for Simon was gone…but I could still have hope for others.  My motto became “ You can either succumb or Overcome”.  I choose to overcome. I am now one of Terry’s “Warriors of Hope”. In fact, our whole team is (including riders & volunteers).  We are choosing to make a difference & NOT stand by & let others just succumb. We carry messages of hope to all the families that we meet.  Together we are making change. If you have an extra $1….could you part with it today? Every dollar counts.