Runners in the ‘Marathon of Hope’

I was only six when Terry Fox began his “Marathon of Hope” in 1980. But even at that age, I got caught up in the excitement that surrounded the run.
I mean, running across Canada was a pretty big thing on its own but to do it on one leg? You just had to be impressed.
One such person who is equally impressive is Alex Parent, a fourth-grader at St. Francis School here. About four years ago, his mother, Liz, said she noticed he had started walking with a limp. He was taken to the hospital, where it eventually was discovered that he had a type of bone cancer in his right leg–the same cancer Terry Fox suffered from.
Part of his leg had to be amputated, and his foot was re-attached higher up to act as a knee for the prosthetic leg he now uses.
Between chemotherapy and the operation, it was a lot for a kid in kindergarten–or anyone for that matter–to go through. But Alex has proven he is a survivor. Less than four years after his operation, he’s an active member of the Fort Frances Aquanauts who, according to coach Debbie Murray, shows great potential to be a top SWAD (swimmer with a disability) competitor.
He also stays active in other sports, noted his principal, Mariette McRae, as well as the Terry Fox Run.
“He’s gone every year since he’s gotten out of treatment,” Liz Parent said. “He raised over $300 last year for the run.”
Last Friday, St. Francis School held in its own Terry Fox Run as did most other schools in the district. Students assembled in the gym the day before the run to watch a documentary on the life of Terry Fox.
Afterwards, Alex, holding his mother’s hand, walked up to the front of the gym to answer any questions his schoolmates might have about cancer. At first, only one hand went up, then three, and then several hands all at once.
“How did he get the cancer?” one child asked.
“It was nothing he did,” his mother explained. “Nobody knows why this particular type of cancer happens. It’s very rare.”
“How fast can the cancer spread?” came another question
“Alex’s cancer was very aggressive,” Liz Parent answered. “It was very fast.”
“Can he get it again?” someone near the front asked.
“He could get it again but we think it’s gone for good,” his mom replied.
For the most part, Alex let his mom field the questions although he did prompt her with information every now and then. “I was pretty nervous,” he admitted later. “It reminded me about the cancer and stuff.”
The Parents have a special connection with the Terry Fox Foundation. When Alex was still in treatment, Betty Fox, Terry’s mother, sent him a letter along with a book about Terry’s life.
Helping out with the Terry Fox Run at his school just seemed like the right thing to do, he said.
“The more people know, the more they’ll donate to the Terry Fox Foundation and find a cure,” Liz Parent said.
“A better cure,” Alex said. “I hope they can find a cure for cancer so they don’t have to go through all that I went through.”