Terry Fox’s continued impact on cancer research in NL

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Last week, Fred Fox (brother of Terry Fox) took a tour of Memorial’s facilities as part of the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres initiative. The Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network (MOHCCN) is an initiative led by the Terry Fox Foundation and the Terry Fox Research Institute, uniting cancer centres across the country and enabling experts to share research and data. 

Atlantic Cancer Consortium

The Atlantic Cancer Consortium (ACC) is the fourth pilot program created as part of the MOHCCN. The project aims to improve the quality of treatment for cancer patients by pinpointing their existing similarities and differences. Having these cancer centres across Atlantic Canada will enable experts to share data in the Atlantic region and nationwide through already established centres. By sharing this data through a national network, experts will be able to identify the best treatment, in the right time, for the right person.

This initiative was made possible because of the Terry Fox Research Institute’s Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network. Having Fred Fox visit the facilities was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the work being done and the progress being made while highlighting the key role that Terry Fox’s legacy has played in these advancements.

The Muse had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Fox about his thoughts and feelings about witnessing this initiative being realized and the connection that it holds with his brother’s original mission.

Image credit: Modeline Longjohn

Terry Fox’s legacy

When asked about his experience touring the facilities, Fox said it was amazing being at the university and seeing all the hard work that’s being done in realizing what his brother always wanted, a cure for cancer. 

Terry Fox
Image credit: Cindy Wong (via Flickr)

He recalled his brother’s journey and its connection to today, saying, “This is where it all started for Terry when he started the Marathon of Hope, so it comes back full circle with what Terry started and today where we are with the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres.”

A united country in the fight against cancer

Fox expressed how incredible it is to see the collaboration of people that is uniting the countries efforts in helping those diagnosed with cancer, “it was often said when Terry was running across Canada that he was bringing our country together in a fundraising effort that had never been done before and that’s what we’re doing in cancer research today as well: collaborating, sharing data, working together, and Terry would be amazed to know that what he started 43 years ago, that this is the impact today.”

He said how proud he feels visiting our facilities and seeing everything happening across Atlantic Canada, explaining that it truly represents how “everybody across the country is willing and able to contribute to this common goal of improving the outcomes of a cancer diagnosis.”

Image credit: Modeline Longjohn

“When Terry was first diagnosed in 1977, so we’re talking 45 years ago, there wasn’t a lot of information about research, not a lot of research was being done, and that’s what he wanted to change,” stated Fox, explaining how proud his brother would be to see how far we’ve come. “He wanted to change how research was done in this country and he did that.”

Memorial’s connection to the project

Dr. Sherri Christian, Co-lead of the ACC and MOHCCN, stated, “MUN is one of the major institutions that form the Atlantic Cancer Consortium, and we were delighted to show Fred Fox some of the research activities that were only made possible because of Terry Fox Research Institute’s Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network.”

Image credit: Modeline Longjohn

Christian explained how it is thanks to the Terry Fox Research Institute’s Marathon of Hope initiative that so much of this research is possible. “For example, Biobank NL collects cancer tissue from people in Newfoundland that researchers can use in future projects to find genetic patterns. Without the MOHCCN, we would not have this extremely valuable resource.”

Fox stated how proud he feels to see all the incredible work being done and how proud his brother would be to know that his impact has lived on—”He would be so proud that he’s touched so many people’s lives in so many ways, as inspiration but also in allowing the people who are educated to continue their work.”

Looking back to when Terry was in St. John’s 43 years ago on April 12th, Fox says his first words written in his journal were, “Today is where it all begins.” It’s astonishing to see the research that’s been done since that moment.

Anasophie Vallée
Anasophie (she/her) is a 3rd-year Communication Studies and French student at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. She is very passionate about advocating for human rights, mental health awareness, and inclusivity both within the arts and in our community as a whole. Anasophie is eager and honoured to be Editor-in-Chief of the Muse. She has written for both the Muse and the Independent and is excited to be a part of such an amazing team. Anasophie is also an avid member of the NL arts community, having danced for years with Kittiwake Dance Theatre. When she is not writing or working, Ana can typically be found reading, cooking, or seeing a local production.