The annual Terry Fox Run has a special meaning for people all over the world with loved ones affected by cancer, but the event is of special significance for one Halifax area woman diagnosed with a rare form of the disease.
Fox’s dream to raise money to fight cancer has inspired thousands of people to take part in annual runs around the world.
Heather Farthing is one of those people.
“Well he is just an icon, a hero in many, many ways. I actually watched the made-for-TV movie yesterday and I thought, ‘Well if he can get out and do what he did, I’ll get out of bed today and come and participate.’ It’s amazing and I’m just trying to teach my own children how strong a person that he was,” she said.
Farthing is just 34 years old. She has two young children. Three years ago she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called high-grade pleomorphic spindle cell sarcoma.
To date she's had six operations in an effort to keep the cancer from spreading. She’s also undergone four courses of radiation, adding up to a total of 80 treatments.
But the disease has spread and surgery to remove the cancer is no longer an option for the mother of two. She is now undergoing chemotherapy.
On Sunday, about 40 of her friends and family walked with her as part of a team they call “Heather's Hope."
Farthing was overcome with emotion as she explained what her supporters mean to her.
“It’s very overwhelming, it really is,” said Farthing, tearfully.
“It’s quite something and we’re very blessed to have such a a great circle of friends and family and we’re very grateful people came out to support of what we feel is a very important cause.”
This year the Heather's Hope team has raised $9,000 for the Terry Fox foundation.
This is Farthing’s third time participating in the Terry Fox Run since her diagnosis.
“I couldn’t do what I do if it wasn’t for all of this support,” she said.
The non-competitive charity event is being held in towns and cities throughout the Maritimes as well as the rest of Canada.
In Charlottetown, P.E.l. 200 people participated. There were 20 other Terry Fox runs happening across the Island on Sunday.
The first Terry Fox Run was held on Sept. 13, 1981, just over two months after Fox’s death. That year, Canadians raised $3.5 million for cancer research.
In the 33 years since the race began, the Terry Fox organization has raised more than $553 million for cancer research.