Terry Fox Run: The Day After… Why do I run?

Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  It's also the day
after I attended the Terry Fox Run in Port Coquitlam known as the  Home Town Run, where
13,000 people attended according to the Vancouver Sun this
morning.  No wonder the run organizers ran out of t-shirts, coins,
certificates, stickers, then finally hot dogs. It was a wonderful day
with many happy memories, as I wrote yesterday, with highlights such as
meeting Doug Alward, Terry's best friend who had accompanied him on
the Marathon of Hope, as well as the many
supporters and participants of the run, some who are cancer survivors.

But today is bitter-sweet.  Sadly this afternoon, I learned that
my friend Candace Frank passed away shortly after 5 am this morning. I
last saw her in the hospital on Tuesday evening.
Candace was the senior minister of the Centre of Spiritual Living,
where I have been attending services for the past 2 years, and where we
created a dragon boat team for the church community last year. 
Candace had battled the cancer for awhile.  But this summer it was

The day I went to see Candace in the hospital, was also the day I went
to speak at Sherwood Park Elementary School for a Terry Fox
assembly.  Seeing the young children's faces, later contrasted
with Candace's once youthful face, now taken over by the struggle with
cancer.  It really emphasized Terry Fox's wish to end cancer and
to stop the suffering, especially for the young children he saw during
his initial 1977 cancer treatments in the Royal Columbia Hospital's
children's ward.  This year, I decided to run for Candace – unable to even walk the run this year.

Rev. Candace was a person who really gave of herself, standing up on
stage each week, sharing the adventures of her life, and her spiritual
challenges.  She genuinely sparkled and inspired many people
around her.

Rev. Candace Frank
gives the Selkirk Address at the January 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner, flanked by co-hosts Tom Chin, Shelagh Rogers and Todd Wong  – photo Ray Shum

As a cancer survivor, Terry Fox Day
is always significant for me.  I can remember when I was in the hospital
for chemotherapy over the  Canada Day weekend in 1989, I watched the image
of Terry Fox being touted as one of Canada's greatest heroes. 
My first thoughts seeing him were sad, because I knew Terry died in the
end. It was only 10 days after the cancer had been diagnosed behind
my breast bone – a massive tumor the size of a grapefruit – jammed into
my chest cavity, displacing my vital organs.  My lungs were
half-filled with fluid, my heart's vena cava was constricted –
restricting blood flow back to my heart and there were bruises across
my chest from the internal pressure. 

On the evening of hospital admission, the doctor told my mother that
they would give me only a 50% chance of survival.  I think he was
being generous, because my mother kept trying to barter for 60%.  It wouldn't be until about 45 days later, that
the doctors would tell me that without treatment, I might have lasted
two weeks. 

After 5 months of chemotherapy from June 21 to the first week of
November, the doctors wanted to do exploratory surgery to ensure there
were no more cancer cells in my body.  I balked at this invasive
suggestion.  Afterall, didn't my blood tests just test
clean?  In February, I went to see the doctor and was pronounced
cancer free.  I walked out of his office, feeling like I was
walking on air.  I was so happy I felt I could fly.

I had never every attended any of the Terry Fox Runs in the Vancouver
area before.  And in 1990, I was just glad to be alive and back
attending psychology classes at Simon Fraser University, where Terry
Fox himself had studied kinesiology at the time of his cancer
diagnosis.  Hearing anything to do about cancer reminded me of my hospital stays,

But in May 1993, Simon Fraser University awarded me with the SFU Terry
Fox Gold Medal, given to a person who exemplifies “courage in adversity
and dedictation to society.”  I was interviewed by Rafe Mair on
CKNW radio.  Also listening at the time was Darrell Fox, who
phoned me up that evening, and asked me to consider becoming a Terry's
Team member.  A few months later I accepted, and my life changed

I heartily embraced the values that Terry Fox exemplified, and as I
attended a September press conference at the BC Sports Hall of Fame,
with Betty Fox and Rick Hansen.  It has been a blessing to meet
Terry's family, his friends, coaches and mentors.  But more
importantly it gave me a way to demonstrate in a postitive way that
cancer could be beaten, that Terry's dream of ending cancer could
happen, one person at a time.

I am saddened that I was unable to help my friend Rev. Candace Frank
survive her cancer.  I know that it gave her hope, over the past
year, knowing that I was a successful survivor.  John Pifer, one
of our Church leaders called me with the news late this afternoon, and
told me that Candace thought very highly of me.  Our admiration
for each other was… is mutual. 

It is in experiences like this, that we question the fairness of life,
when good people are struck down and taken away from us. But I also
know that Candace has finished her time here on earth.  Her spirit
has returned home to continue it's journey on the spiritual plane. She
worked hard to help develop and expand Vancouver's spritual community
with one of the strongest “new thought” churches.  Now it is up to
the congregation to continue her work and help to realize the goals
that she set.  Just like Terry Fox, he set the bar high, and
challenged us, $1 at a time, to help end the suffering of cancer.

Terry Fox brings out the best in all people, not only in Canada, but
around the world as this year 62 countries also held Terry Fox
Runs.  Participating in Terry Fox Runs helps us to be part of
something bigger than we could do on our own, and it helps us build and
connect with a community of friends and strangers. These are the
reasons why I am a Terry's Team member and I speak and run at Terry Fox
Run sites.  To help build a better world, one step at at time.

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