It is an iconic name here in Canada, for we can’t help but be inspired by this teenager. Always involved in sports, he was diagnosed at age 18 with bone cancer and underwent a right above-knee amputation in 1977.
Many would have seen this as the end to any sports involvement, but not Terry. Despite his cancer diagnosis, despite his leg amputation, he wanted to run. Everyone knew his cancer would likely return, nonetheless, he continued. On April 12, 1980, he donned his prosthesis and set out on a quest that most people who have both their legs would have never attempted: He began a run across Canada. His purpose? To raise awareness of and money for cancer research.
In his quest, Terry ran through Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec. He had even made it 3/4 of the way across the huge province of Ontario when the bad news caught up to him: His cancer had returned, this time in his lungs. Sadly, his failing health forced him to discontinue his run on September 1, 1980. He had completed 5,373 km of the his goal of 8,600 km. He would live another 10.5 months before succumbing to his illness on June 28, 1981.
Why would someone like Terry set out on such a run?
Terry ran because he wanted to earn money to help others with similar diagnoses. He wanted to help those who were going through the waking nightmare he was enduring. And he succeeded in earning $24.17 million dollars before he died. How disappointing it must have been for him to be unable to complete his goal! How he must have been upset at all of the money he was unable to earn due to the early termination of his run!
What Terry didn’t know was that his efforts in life spear-headed a massive, yearly campaign across all of Canada that continues to this day. In September school children across the country walk for Terry. Many adults join them in organized Terry Fox runs, and to date, this campaign has brought in over 800 million dollars for Cancer research. Terry’s life, courage and death inspired the entire country to complete what he, personally, could not complete in life. And so, his legacy lives on.
As I stood in Thunder Bay, Ontario last summer, at the foot of a statue erected for Terry Fox near the spot where he was forced to discontinue his run, I was in awe of how his death had accomplished so much more than his life ever could have. He was truly a friend of mankind. It all made me think of One who is an even bigger Friend of Mankind: Jesus Christ. You know, I feel for Jesus’ followers. They were certain that Jesus was the solution to their roman occupation problem, and how disillusioned they were when He died. Yet it was in His death that we are freed — not just from a temporary Roman occupation, but eternally from the bondage of sin! Where His life might have freed thousands, His death has freed billions of people.
It is easy to become disillusioned when something we are hoping for does not materialize, when something comes up and stops the tremendous potential for good. But let’s remember that God is in charge, and He has already defeated the devil and his forces. And God promises to work: “…for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV).
It is natural to grieve when bad things happen and our hopes and dreams are shot down; but in those situations, let’s remember these friends of mankind and let’s not be dismayed. Let’s remember that God knows how to work these bad things for His glory, and let’s rejoice in and pray for the hundred-fold good that God can bring out of our ruined dreams!
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries