Toronto cancer researcher developing new treatment drugs thanks to Terry Fox Foundation

The family of the late Christopher Kelly participates at the Terry Fox Run at Woodbine Beach in Toronto. (Joseph Burrell photo)

The family of the late Christopher Kelly participates at the Terry Fox Run at Woodbine Beach in Toronto. (Joseph Burrell photo)

by Joseph Burrell, Centennial Journalism

Woodbine Beach hosted its 35th annual Terry Fox Run on Sunday. This year the goal of organizers and runners alike was not only to raise a record-breaking amount of donations, but also to show the positive impact that fundraising has on those battling cancer.

Runs like these became tradition in cities across Canada when Terry Fox, who lost a leg to cancer, pledged to run across the country in 1980. Fox aimed to raise awareness and hoped that every Canadian would donate just one dollar to his cause.  Fox died in 1981 before completing his journey but the Terry Fox Foundation continues to collect money for treatment research.

Dr. Ahmed Aman is a principal research scientist at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Toronto. The run is meaningful to him personally because his own father battled cancer. At work, he’s been creating drugs to treat the disease. He co-organized the Woodbine Beach run this year so that he could speak to runners about medical breakthroughs that happened because of charities like the Terry Fox Foundation.

“There are a few projects I am working on where we’re getting funding from the Terry Fox Foundation,” said Aman. “I know the value and the impact of every dollar that comes through donations.”

Aman was thrilled by the turnout at Woodbine, where meets have been hosted since 1981. Organizers hoped to break the previous attendance record. Over 600 runners were expected to show up throughout the day. With record-breaking attendance comes record-breaking donations, beating last year’s $89 thousand.

Organizers hoped to collect more than $100,000.  

Nancy Kelly ran with 40 other family members and friends. Her son, Christopher, died in 2009 from osteosarcoma; the same cancer Fox suffered from. Kelly’s son benefitted from advancements in cancer treatment.

“There were a number of things that weren’t available for Terry. They couldn’t operate on his lungs. The only option for Terry was to have a leg amputated. Christopher had different options, he had the ability to have three lung operations,” Kelly said. 

Modern medical technology allowed for Christopher’s cancerous femur to be removed and replaced with a metal prosthesis.

“There’s a lot of money that’s going into research and it’s really paying off,” Kelly said. “It is really paying off.”

Jeff Lee remembers when Fox ran through Toronto during his Marathon of Hope in 1980, and Lee has been running every year since then.

“I was very young when he was here but I was at the age where it really touched me,” said Lee, who is also a Toronto landlord. “I was following his journey, I made a scrapbook. I remember him running through Nathan Phillips Square. It was all over the news and all that.”

Lee has held various jobs as a medical professional, and works directly with cancer patients.  Lee also rents apartments to exchange students who are studying in Toronto, and his tenants also receive a first-hand lesson in the story of Terry Fox. One new tenant, who introduced himself simply as Finn, was with Lee at the Terry Fox Run.

“What I recognized not only today, but within the last few days, is that Canadians are so welcoming and warm-hearted,” said the German student, who dedicated his Terry Fox Run to his sister back home in Germany. “That’s why I’m here, to engage in an intercultural exchange, so kilometres for today are not that important.” 

Toronto landlord Jeff Lee with his German exchange student Finn at the Terry Fox Run at Woodbine Beach. (Jospeph Burrell photo)

Toronto landlord Jeff Lee with his German exchange student Finn at the Terry Fox Run at Woodbine Beach. (Jospeph Burrell photo)

Advertisements