The mother of Canadian icon Terry Fox is seriously ill but does not have cancer, the family has confirmed.

Earlier on Friday, there were media reports that Betty Fox had cancer. But according to a statement released by the Terry Fox Foundation later on Friday morning, Fox is seriously ill, but not with cancer.

"We wish to share that our wife and mother, Mrs. Betty Fox, is seriously ill. Media reports today that she has cancer are incorrect. To respect her privacy, no other details will be provided," the statement said.

"We thank you in advance for your consideration. Well-wishes, cards and letters of support may be sent to: bettyfoxmessages@gmail.com."

According to reports, Fox is at a hospice in Chilliwack, B.C., near the community east of Vancouver where the family lives.

Family of heroes

Betty and her other son, Darrell, set up and ran the Terry Fox Foundation following Terry's death in 1981, raising more than $550 million for cancer research in 28 countries through the foundation's annual runs.

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An artist's rendering of the new Terry Fox Memorial in Vancouver depicts the four sculptures designed by author and artist Douglas Coupland. ((CBC))

Most recently, Betty Fox had been working with Vancouver artist Douglas Coupland on a project to redesign the memorial to her son outside BC Place in downtown Vancouver.

The tile archway that was erected in the early 1980s is being replaced with a memorial that will include four bronze statues of the one-legged runner from Port Coquitlam, B.C. The sculptures will show Fox's signature hop-and-run style in stop-action steps.

Terry Fox, who first lost his leg to cancer, became a national hero when he embarked on his Marathon of Hope in 1980 — a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research. His goal was to persuade every Canadian to donate one dollar for cancer research.

Fox cut short his run when the cancer he thought he had fought off three years earlier returned. He died on June 28, 1981, but not before becoming, at that time, the youngest person ever to be awarded the Order of Canada.

Two-and-a-half months after his death, the first Terry Fox Run was held on Sept. 13, 1981.