________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 3. . . .September 18, 2009


Terry Fox: His Story. New Rev. Ed.

Leslie Scrivener.
Toronto, ON: McClelland & Stewart, 2009.
234 pp., pbk., $24.99.
ISBN 978-0-7710-8019-7.

Subject Headings:
Fox, Terry, 1958-1981.
Runners (Sports)-Canada-Biography.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

*** /4



Osteogenic sarcoma, although rare, is the most common primary cancer of the bone. It is a destroyer that usually begins its work near the knee and makes the bone soft and mushy so that the grain that streaks the bone looks like a highway that ends abruptly in a swamp. As the sarcoma grows, it breaks through the bone into surrounding muscles and tendons. Unlike lung cancer, which can be linked to environmental hazards such as smoking, no one knows what causes osteogenic sarcoma. Terry believed his car accident caused a weakness in his knee and made him susceptible to a tumour. His doctors said there was no connection.

Terry Fox: His Story tells the story of Terry Fox’s historic run for cancer in 1980 and the events in his life leading up to the run. It is a tale of audacity and hope, about a young man of 22 who did what many people considered impossible, running across Canada with a prosthesis where his right leg had been amputated. It has 19 chapters of varying lengths and is ideal for recreational reading.

     The book contains a map, which shows Terry’s run, The Marathon of Hope, from St. John’s, NL, to Thunder Bay, ON, between April 12 and September 1, 1980. By this time, the cancer had spread to his lungs, and he was no longer physically capable of running. The book also has a chronology of Terry’s life and many black and white photographs. The photos are functional, grouped together in two sets of eight pages and highlight Terry’s brief but courageous life.

     This New Revised Edition of Terry Fox was published in 2000. The Preface, therefore, which mentions the amount of money raised for cancer research in Terry’s name, is very out-of-date.

     Sadly, because the Marathon of Hope only lasted six months, there isn’t really much of a story in retelling the events of the run. Terry kept a diary of his daily experiences, and some of his entries are included. These add a personal touch and tell readers a considerable amount about Terry’s character, but much of the story of Terry’s run, as difficult as it was, is not overly exciting. That said, Terry Fox: His Story is a joyous story, made possible by Terry’s sheer guts and determination. Few people, faced with Terry’s problems, could accomplish what he did. Few would try. Young readers, exposed to Terry’s story for the first time, will be struck by his courage, determination, and audacity. These character qualities gave him the will to continue his run when common sense must have told him to stop.

     A highlight of Terry’s life, and one that reinforces his audacity and courage, was the decision to play wheelchair basketball. Asked in 1977 by Rick Hansen, the famous wheelchair athlete, Terry agreed to join the Vancouver Cablecars, a wheelchair team. Terry had played regular basketball, but playing in a wheelchair was a formidable new challenge, one that he accomplished against powerful odds.

     The author, Leslie Scrivener, has a Master of Journalism degree and is the Faith and Ethics reporter for the Toronto Star. She is certainly qualified to write this book. The language used and her style of writing are perfect for the intended audience.


Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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