And so the day has come… Yes, you probably knew it would, but it is still a shock to me… So here it is.. I have signed up to participate in… a marathon ! ACK!!! I know what you are thinking… Nicole, you do realize this involves… well exercise???
Yes I do.
“Nicole,” you repeat (I actually can hear you), “you do realize this involves, strenuous exercise, like including the possibility of sweating and gasping for breaths?”
“Yes,” I repeat stoically, “I do.”
“Like, in nature?” You continue, in awe at my resilience. “Outside? Braving the possible severe weather conditions and wild animals?!”
“Yes,” I say again, my head held high. “I will do it for The Cause.”
Hey wait a minute. What wild animals? Nature? Who said anything about nature? Oh yeah, they did have a picture of the marathon course on the website and it did look like, well, a narrow trail through the forest with potential hills and valleys…
ACK!!!!! What am I, crazy?
Well yes, maybe I am. But I’m doing it, the FORCEthon, an 11 kilometer marathon organized by the foundation FORCE, our local childhood cancer research and advocacy foundation.
Because all the proceeds my humble run/hike/crawl through the woods, over the hills and valleys, warding off wild beasts etc, go to fund the research that is desperately needed to cure some of the kids Elliot and I have met along our cancer journey.
Hey, don’t look so worried! I can do this! It’s only 11 kilometers, how bad can that be? (“What?” You say, “that’s almost 7 miles??? Are you freaking serious???!!!”)
I’m Canadian, you forget. We have Terry Fox as a role model, how can we not be moved to reach for the stars when we have a true Canadian hero to guide us?
For those who don’t know him, here is a bit of Canadian history:
Ever wonder where the idea to do a marathon for cancer comes from? In 1977 Terry Fox was a normal, active 19 year old Canadian kid when a worsening pain in his knee sent him to the doctor. The diagnosis would change his life, his family’s and eventually all of us: osteosarcoma, a serious type of bone cancer.
His leg was amputated. He went through 16 months of intense chemotherapy and was told his chances were 50%. His hospital experiences had made him angry at how little money was dedicated to cancer research, he watched as others around him lost hope and lost their battles.
Terry didn’t give up hope. Although he had an artificial leg which made him run with an unusual gait (find me one Canadian who doesn’t know exactly what he looked like as he ran, I dare you) he decided to embark on an ambitious adventure. A crazy adventure. And adventure that would have him braving the elements and the forces of nature (that’s the Newfies), facing wild beasts (that’s the Quebec drivers), and all kinds of weather.
Terry decided to do a marathon on his own, all by himself, and asked each Canadian to give him a dollar, that he would donate to fund cancer research. Just one dollar. If each of the 24 million Canadians were willing to give just one dollar, he figured, think how much could happen in cancer research.
But the marathon had to be big. It had to be long, like, really long, eh? (Just threw that in for some Canadian authenticity).
So he decided to run across Canada. Yep, that’s right. 8,000 kilometers. That’s five THOUSAND miles. Makes my little 11k seem pretty pathetic actually. And I have both legs!
For my Swiss friends, to give you an idea of how big Canada is, you could actually plop all of Switzerland into one the Great Lakes just to right of the middle of the country, like Lake Huron for example, and it would fit easily (might stick out the top though, not sure about those alps).
So he started by dipping his artificial leg in the Atlantic ocean off Newfoundland and set off down the road. On his first few days he encountered gale force winds, heavy rain and a snowstorm. At first, not too many people were interested, but by the time he got to the other side of Newfoundland, people started paying attention. One town, Port-O-Basque, met him with a cheque for $10,000, donations from each of the town’s 10,000 residents. By the time he made it to Toronto, which took three months, everyone knew who Terry Fox was. Some corporations got the idea to sponsor him for each mile he ran (catchy idea!). People lined the road to watch him as he jogged past.
He had met the Prime Minister, had rallied Canadians to a cause, had made us believe any of us really could make a difference if we wanted.
He made it more than halfway across Canada, 5,300 kilometers over 143 days. Then something happened… fatigue. By late August he was exhausted before he began his day’s run. On September 1, outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario, he was forced to stop briefly after he suffered an intense coughing fit and experienced pains in his chest. Unsure what to do, he resumed running as the crowds along the highway shouted out their encouragement. A few miles later, short of breath and with continued chest pain, he asked to be driven a hospital.
The cancer was back.
Terry didn’t finish his run. But people everywhere continued to donate, and before the cancer took his life, the goal of $1.00 for each Canadian had been reached.
I was 12 years old when Terry did his run. I remember the excitement. The energy that people felt at the thought that we could make a difference. Only a few short years later, cancer took my grandmother. There was still so little known, so few advances. But as more money started pouring in, as more marathons took place all over the world (the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope is run in over 60 countries now), research did advance. My mom was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer less than 20 years after Terry died, and because of a brand new cancer drug, she’s still with us today.
I am in no way saying I am as glamorous, heroic, or well, in athletic shape as Terry Fox. But his message is clear: we can each do our part. So off I go on November 10th to do mine. It’s only 11 k, how bad can it be? Besides, they have rest stops along the way where they serve water and juice… I wonder what the odds are of a glass of wine?
And YES! You can sponsor me! An amount per kilometer (don’t worry, the maximum is 11km, so there’s not too much risk of breaking the bank! Breaking my back though…) or an amount just to do the run.
Imagine if everyone in Switzerland gave just 1 franc?
Email me directly at Nicole@scobie.ch if you would like to sponsor me. Or donate directly to my postal account CPP 30-604575-9 (this account is solely used for fundraising). All proceeds will go directly to FORCE foundation.
If you would like to join me on that day, you can still sign up too, on FORCE’s website!
This blog contributed by Nicole Scobie, Canadian expat, Mother of three boys and original MiV founding member. Reposted from her own blog with permission.