Saturday, September 26, 2009

Inspiration From Terry Fox

On Thursday morning at my school our students took part in the Terry Fox Run. This has been a tradition in our schools ever since I walked the halls as a young student, not a teacher.

Terry Fox was a Canadian humanitarian, athlete, and cancer treatment activist. He became famous for the Marathon of Hope, a cross-Canada run to raise money for cancer research, which Fox ran with one prosthetic leg. He is considered one of Canada's greatest heroes and is celebrated internationally every September as people participate in the Terry Fox Run, the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research.

On Thursday morning, our students gathered in the assembly and watch a short video of Terry from his Marathon of Hope in 1980. His stride was not that of an easy run, for after losing one of his legs from the knee down to Cancer, running was not something that came easily. But Terry was an athlete, and had determination. He had a dream of a Cancer free world, and set to raise money for a cure for Cancer. His stride - hop through Canadian streets was inspirational, and students everywhere were glued to television sets watching to see how far this young man from BC made each day on his journey across Canada. Fox was unable to complete his run, as his bone cancer had metastasized to his lungs. X-rays revealed that Fox's right lung had a lump the size of a golf ball and his left lung had another lump the size of a lemon. He was forced to stop the run on September 1, 1980 just north-east of Thunder Bay, Ontario, after 143 days. He had run 5,373 km or 3,339 miles (roughly 23.3 miles per day) through Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. Eight days after Terry Fox was forced to stop, the CTV television network organized a nationwide telethon in hopes of raising additional funds for the cause of cancer research; it proved so successful that $10.5 million was raised that day. The campaigns were so successful that by February 1981, $24.17 million dollars had been raised and Terry Fox's dream of getting one dollar from every single Canadian for cancer research had been realized.

Terry Fox is today considered a national hero of Canada. He was named a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour, on September 18, 1980 by Edward Schreyer, Canada's then serving Governor-General. Schreyer travelled to Port Coquitlam to personally present the medal to Terry himself.

In June 1981, Fox developed pneumonia, and on June 27, he went into a coma. He died on the 28th at 4:35 a.m., which was his favourite hour of running, a year after his legendary run, and exactly one month shy of his twenty-third birthday. Flags were flown at half-mast on Canadian government buildings across Canada and overseas while tributes poured in to Terry Fox's family who retreated home to prepare for his burial. Canada's serving Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in his address before Canada's House of Commons said that Terry gave far more to his country than his country was able to give to him. Trudeau also noted that:

"It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death....We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity."

On July 3, 1981, Terry succumbed to the Cancer which he so ardently tried to overcome. But the Marathon of Hope did not die with Terry. Every September, school aged children all over the world participate in Terry Fox Runs. It is an important part of our history, and culture not only to continue Terry's dream of fundraising to find a cure for Cancer, but also to reconnect to the strength within ourselves to achieve our goals and dreams.

One of my favourites quotes from Terry is this:

"I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made possible if you try. "

When I saw this on the gym wall at school on Friday I cried. I was so moved, even after all these years by a young man who had one leg, Cancer, and who never gave up on his dreams.

So I won't give up on mine. Thank-you Terry for the inspiration that I needed to refocus my dreams of becoming a healthier me, and for everyone that's striving for a goal, just remember anything is possible if you try.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebrations bare gifts.

I am still on a high from completing my Masters. There I said it out loud. Well Not that anyone around me hasn't already figured it out. I am damn proud of myself. Two years of extremely hard work and I am very proud of myself for not only completing my degree, but also that transformation it has made in my life. I am living more authentically, and gosh darn it I have some pep in my step.

My Mom called me at work this afternoon and asked me to come over to her house before I headed home. This is not unusual, as she only lives a couple blocks from my school. I went over, and she handed me a box. Inside the box was a ring. A white gold ring, with pave diamonds and a large garnet stone. It was beautiful. "Congratulations Master." she said, "I am very proud of you." I was so touched, and it hasn't left my finger since she gave it to me. Love from my Mom, in no matter what shape or form it comes in, is always incredible and meaningful. It's amazing to feel proud of yourself, and really nice when others feel the same. Especially by the ones you really love.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Celebration Time Part Two

Celebrating the completion of an amazing learning journey with my professors and mentors.

Celebration Time

I am so happy.

Yesterday after two years worth of work, I presented my learning to my professors to earn my Masters degree. My University was amazing. We had to weave our learning into a metaphor, that demonstrated growth over time. My metaphor was health. Because along side of my Masters Journey has been my health journey, and they morphed into the same journey...leading an authentic healthy life. Health for my body, mind, spirit, soul, which spilled over into my profession.

One of the professors that was on my panel was the director of the Canadian branch of the University. It had been a long time since I had seen him. At the end of my presentation he was very honest in saying he did not recognize me when her first came in the room. My physical appearance and demeanour was so dramatically different from where I was 2 years ago. Two years ago I was 50 pounds heavier, and really unhappy in life and work. I loved my job, but my physical health was so bad, I was away a lot from work, and so exhausted at the end of each day. I knew I had to make a change, and he said the change blew him away.

So when I got up to tell my Masters story, I also told the story of health. How focusing on the right tools that I needed to help me lose the weight made all the difference. I showed them Sparkpeople, and how it was a quality tool that enabled me (and still does) to track my daily nutrition intake and fitness output. By tracking my nutrition and fitness, and reflecting about my successes and setbacks, I made myself accountable to my vision of becoming a healthier person. Now I'm only half way to where I want to be, but I am so excited, because I know I have the strength and fortitude to get there.

Now I have to be honest. As this Masters presentation was coming closer, I slipped into some old habits. Instead of making time for exercise and planning healthy suppers, I went into survival mode and was glued to my computer for weeks. Now that it's over I have the freedom to get back on track, and realign with my health goals for myself.

I was so fortunate that one of my very best friends did the Masters with me. Last night we both presented, and both passed. During the course of the Masters, she joined Sparkpeople too. She has lost 30 pounds and now is at her goal weight. Last night we celebrated with our husbands for supper. We had yummy healthy meals, shared bottles of wine, and ate creme brule for dessert. We also did not turn away from the champagne that our professors sent over to toast our successes. It truly was one of the most amazing days of my life. I now know and believe I have the strength to accomplish anything.

So today is a new day, and after the celebration comes the accountability. I got on the scale and was pleasantly surprised that I have only gained 2 pounds after 2 weeks of no exercise and not tracking my food, as well and drinking my weight in wine last night. But it really does speak volumes to me that my ways have changed. Even though I maybe was not tracking, I was really listening to my body and not overindulging, and keeping potions in check. I know how easy two pounds is too shed, and looking forward to the next leg of my health journey.

So this morning, I am celebrating a new chapter, a new health goal, but also celebrating how far I have come, and all I have accomplished.