Betty Fox: Right mom for a tough job

Terry Fox’s mother was a hero in her own right

Betty Fox was a tough lady. No, check that. Betty Fox was a mom who had to be tough.

Four kids, three boys. Working-class Port Coquitlam. Her second-youngest son is diagnosed with cancer. His leg is amputated.

That’s enough to deal with. That’s enough for a lifetime.

But the boy pushes. He saw things on the cancer ward. Just going on with his life minus one leg isn’t enough. In the kitchen of their PoCo home a day after he completes a 17-mile run, he tells her his plan to run across Canada — a marathon a day on one good leg and a prosthesis to raise money for cancer research. Betty reacts like a mom. We don’t know the precise words but they approximate “Are you nuts?”

She tells him it’s a stupid idea and he’s smarter than that. She tells him no able-bodied person has ever run from Newfoundland to B.C. She fights, a mom trying to protect her child from himself.

To no avail. Tough mom, determined kid.

The rest of the story need not be repeated; it has become a hero’s legend in Canada, complete with requisite tragic ending. But that’s just the beginning of Betty Fox’s story, a heroine’s tale in its own right. Where you or I might have retreated in our grief, Betty and the Fox family stepped forward.

Where most would have held close their personal memories and moments, Betty went public.

Where many might allow the Marathon of Hope to fade into history as something too painful to think about day after day, Betty embraced it, embraced her son’s cause and made it her own, embraced it and worked in spite of the pain, because of the pain.

Terry lit the fire and she tended it for three decades. It was a tough job but somebody had to do it.

– Richard Dal Monte, The Tri-City News