His Legend Continues
“It’s one thing to run across Canada, but now, people are really going to know what cancer is.” —Terry Fox
I was in Ms. Astorino’s kindergarten class when I first saw you
running across the screen of a dusty, twenty-four-inch television.
The Proclaimers were singing “500 Miles” as
flags across the nation waited for half mast
and I, not knowing the concept of gravity,
wondered what happened to your right leg.
You were just a freshman at Simon Fraser University,
only eighteen when you were diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma,
barely old enough to kiss a girl
when cancer kissed your right leg
six inches above the knee.
Sometimes you wondered if we are born dying.
When the doctors gave you 50-50,
you flew to Newfoundland, dipped your right leg into the Atlantic and
headed west, running a marathon every day
for a hundred and forty-three days,
stopping only to collect a faded loonie
from the outstretched hands of the ten-year-old amputee from Hamilton,
or to tell the balding woman wrapped in bed that it’s okay to be scared.
You never made it past Thunder Bay,
felled in the arc of your stride by a lemon-sized
tumour beating in your lungs and as Terry died surrounded by love
at 4:35 AM on June 28, 1981,
you slipped out from underneath your covers,
hobbled out of the hospital and ran home