The father of iconic Canadian figure Terry Fox has been diagnosed with lung cancer, according to a statement released by the Terry Fox Foundation.
The foundation says 81-year-old Rolly Fox remains in “good spirits,” despite the diagnosis, and plans to face the challenge head one with “optimism and a never give up attitude.”
Rolly started smoking at the age of 19, as many people did at the time, but quit back in 1986 on a dare from his brother. He managed to run 10 miles the following year.
Terry is best known for his cross-Canada Marathon of Hope that he started after having his leg amputated from cancer. He stopped his journey after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres when his cancer returned. Terry passed away on June 28, 1981.
Rolly has been a “behind-the-scenes believer” of Terry’s mission for the last 36 years, according to the statement. In the wake of the recent death of his wife of 54 years, Betty, Rolly has been visiting Terry Fox Runs across Canada and personally signed over 14,000 thank you letters each year.
The Terry Fox Foundation said lung cancer is especially stigmatized because of the connection to smoking and is often a neglected research funding priority – however, they recently completed a study to detect lung cancer early.
The Terry Fox Foundation has raised more than $650 million for cancer research.