The Terry Fox Run from a new perspective

Alison Sinson Ince has worked for cancer awareness and research ever since being inspired by Terry Fox, once a patient of hers.

Alison Sinson Ince holds a Vancouver Sun featuring a photo of a younger version of herself

Retired nurse Alison Sinson Ince helped numerous cancer patients over the years, including her most famous one, Terry Fox. She has spoken many times on behalf of the Cancer Society in Barbados and the Terry Fox Foundation in Canada since being inspired by her young patient. But now she can speak as a survivor herself, after her diagnosis of breast cancer earlier this summer during a regular screening mammogram. A lumpectomy is believed to have removed all the cancerous cells, but she’s been prescribed radiation therapy as insurance.

Research and treatments have changed significantly in the 31 years since Terry Fox inspired a country, due in no small part to the $500 million-plus raised since then by the Terry Fox Foundation, much of it through the annual Terry Fox Run held every September.

“Terry realized how many people were affected by cancer when he went to the Cancer Agency in Vancouver for chemotherapy after having his leg amputated,” Alison recalls. “It was seeing how many people it affected. When he saw other kids having to have this treatment, it hardened his resolve. He said, ‘We have to do something about this.’”

The “something” became Terry’s Marathon of Hope, in which he set out to run a marathon every day until he’d crossed all of Canada, raising both awareness of cancer and money for research. Tragically, his cancer returned and the journey he’d begun in Atlantic Canada ended near Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1980.

“At that point a lot of people weren’t even talking about cancer,” Alison says. “Terry opened a lot of doors in that area. Even the amputation – something like that was always covered in the past, and then there he was out there running in a pair of shorts.”

She remembers one eight-year-old patient who had lost a leg in an accident, who didn’t want to go to school, until after Terry Fox ran into the Canadian consciousness. “He was a totally different kid. The others went from calling him ‘Gimpy’ and other names to asking him, ‘Is your leg like Terry Fox’s?’”

Terry himself came to the hospital to speak to some young patients, “and it meant so much more to them, because he’d been there,” she says.

When they learned Terry was coming back to Royal Columbian Hospital after stopping his run at Thunder Bay, “I said a very rude word, and burst into tears,” recalls Alison.  She became the media liaison, and learned first hand just how much Canada and the world had taken Terry into their hearts. They had to set up special phone lines at the hospital and hire operators for them to keep the emergency lines open, because so many people were calling for updates on his condition. “It felt like we were shepherding the whole country through it.”

“You couldn’t help getting emotionally involved with this young man,” she says. “Everyone related to him like he could be a member of their family. He was so sincere in what he wanted. He felt that the public needed to know more, to talk about cancer more and put more money into research so we could beat this thing.”

Alison has been part of the annual Terry Fox Run every year except for 1984 – 1988, when she returned to her native Barbados, helped establish a Cancer Agency, and did developmental and project work, “all because of that curly-headed boy.”

For the last few years, she has been part of the committee organizing the annual Terry Fox Run in Cloverdale. Last year’s event saw over 300 participants brave torrential rainstorms and raised nearly $18,000. Alison will be the keynote speaker at the Cloverdale Run this year, sharing her personal memories of Terry Fox, but from a new perspective – as a cancer survivor and therefore a member of “Terry’s Team”.

Cloverdale Terry Fox Run

The Cloverdale Terry Fox Run for cancer research will start and finish at the Cloverdale Legion, 17567 57 Avenue on Sunday, Sept. 18. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the Run begins at 10 a.m. Official merchandise will be on sale and there will be face painting, prize draws, a silent auction, refreshments for participants, and entertainment, including a performance by the Clayton Heights Jazz Band.

There are one, five, and ten km routes for walking, jogging, running, cycling – whatever participants choose.

There is no entry fee but donations will gratefully be received. For more information or to volunteer please contact Elaine Gooliaeff at 604-533-2027.

Visit www.terryfox.org to register and collect online pledges locate other runs being held the same day across Canada and beyond, or to be involved as a Terry’s Team member.

Alison remembers when she had to tell waiting media representatives that Terry had finally lost his battle with cancer. “I did say then that his legacy would remain part of this country forever.”

She was right.

Just Posted

Fraser Surrey Docks mechanic dies on the job

‘This is a very sad day - a worker went to his job this morning and didn’t go home’

PHOTOS: Canada Cup action continues at Softball City

The Futures Gold final is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Softball City’s diamond No. 1

White Rock senior breaks wrist after tripping on gravel patch

74-year-old woman, who fell at the corner of Fir and Russell, says no one stopped to help

Here’s what you need to know about Day 2 at the BC Games

From equestrian to volleyball to swimming, all 18 events in full swing here in the Cowichan Valley

Two significant wildfires burning in southeastern B.C.

More than 20 fires were burning in the Southeast Fire Centre as of Saturday afternoon

Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

No Name brand chicken nuggets recalled due to possible salmonella

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says multiple illnesses reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario

Lodeiro scores twice to help Sounders beat Whitecaps 2-0

Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he converted a penalty kick

VIDEO: Critter Care opens its doors

Thousands attend open house at Lower Mainland wildlife rehabilitation centre

Race walker breaks 18-year-old BC Games record

Zone 6 athlete Olivia Lundman crossed finish line with ease, to loud cheers in Cowichan

PHOTO GALLERY: BC Games Day 2

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

ZONE 3: Luck played no part in getting Riley Ward to the BC Games

Langley baller flouts misfortune on the floor; he’d rather get by on hard work

Most Read