It was just under 15 years ago that Jade Gritzfield was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Oct. 21, 2004, is the day that I marked my life changed,” she told Global News shortly after Regina’s Terry Fox Run kicked off outside the T.C. Douglas building.
She had discovered a lump in her breast. Initially, she thought it was a cyst, but it turned out to be much worse.
“When I found out it was a solid mass, that’s the day I knew,” she recalled. “I mean, you just know that’s what it is.”
What followed was a battle.
“I was quite sick during my chemo treatment,” Gritzfield said. “You know, there’s little things you don’t even think. You don’t realize how heavy your head is until you’re in a weakened state and you have to hold your head up. I sometimes needed to sit down with something propped up against my head.”
During that treatment, though, she found inspiration in Terry Fox. It was during the 25th anniversary of Fox’s famous campaign that Gritzfield started undergoing chemotherapy.
“This single Canadian who just felt called upon to do this Marathon of Hope, and to travel across Canada on one leg because cancer had taken his other leg — it’s really extraordinary,” she said.
Gritzfield has been involved with the Terry Fox Run as a participant, volunteer and committee member ever since.
Hundreds participated in the Sunday morning event, which organizers expected to raise a number in the tens of thousands of dollars for the Terry Fox Foundation.
Many shared stories like Gritzfield’s.
Tianna Chorney and her younger sister, both teenagers, were diagnosed with thyroid cancer one day apart in 2017.
“I was diagnosed in 2017. I was actually diagnosed at the same time as my sister. She was diagnosed the day before me and then I was diagnosed the next day,” she said.
Tianna and her sister have gone through treatment and are now under observation.
“With my sister and I’s cancer, it’s very treatable now. But back in Terry’s Day it wouldn’t have been, so it’s because of people like Terry and organizations like the Terry Fox Foundation, and events like this that we have the research and such a better chance of getting through it.”
Craig Nieuwstad has watched multiple family members get diagnosed with cancer.
“My mom had cancer and my granny had skin cancer. They were able to beat that but my godmother, she had really bad cancer and passed away a few years ago,” he said. “And her daughter, who’s just two years older than me, just beat cancer. Then, just after her mother passed away, she was diagnosed again.”
Nieuwstad is South African by birth and is actually being sworn in as Canadian the day after the Terry Fox Run. He said it inspires him to know someone fought so hard to raise money and awareness to fight cancer.
“To have a hero like that in a new country I’ve come to is great.”
WATCH (Sept. 14, 2019): Marathon of Hope organizer recounts his time with Canadian legend Terry Fox