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Former police officer diagnosed with colon cancer cheers on Windsor Terry Fox Run

Mark Young, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, said it’s important to get screened for cancer, even if you’re considered ‘low-risk’ like he was.
Mark Young, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, said it’s important to get screened for cancer, even if you’re considered ‘low-risk’ like he was.

WINDSOR, N.S. – Mark Young, with a checker-orange shirt and a beige safari-style hat, smiled broadly as hundreds of people lined up for the 37th Annual Terry Fox Run in Windsor.  

Young is a healthy-looking, fit, 59-year-old man. He had no history of cancer in his family. Didn’t smoke. Didn’t drink to excess. Was by all accounts considered low-risk for cancer.

He was diagnosed earlier this year.

“I’ve been a runner all of my life, active in sports, at the gym, eating healthy all my life, I’ve been doing all the things that I know you should do,” Young said. “I had no reason to think I would get sick.”

Then, he began experiencing some pain in his ribs, which he got checked out. Turns out that rib pain was arthritis, but other tests revealed something worse.

He had a colonoscopy, which revealed a tumour that required intensive surgery to have it removed.

“It turns out some cancer cells had moved into my lymph nodes, so that started the whole process,” he said. “I was healthy, but still had this silent killer inside of me. Get tested. Don’t put it off.”

Mark Young, a former Halifax police officer who was diagnosed with colon cancer, shares his support for the Windsor Terry Fox Run.

Young said his main goal of attending the Terry Fox Run in Windsor was to raise awareness for people to get tested, even if they don’t think they’re low-risk.

“Getting tested likely saved my life, another year and they wouldn’t have been able to treat it the way they did,” he said.

Young is waiting to talk to surgeons and oncologists before finding out what’s next, but chemotherapy is likely.

Still, Young is hopeful he can beat it.

He isn’t able to run, but he continues to walk and hike as much as he can – he said it’s important to keep living, even when being afflicted with something as scary as cancer.

Young, who is a retired police officer from Halifax, remembers seeing Terry Fox in person, running through Halifax in 1981 during his Marathon of Hope.

“I was a young police officer in Halifax, working in the downtown core, and I remember being on the beat, on the street, and suddenly I saw this guy running with one leg, and a prosthetic leg, and a van and about five other people running with him,” he said. “It was until much later until we realized who it was.”

Huge turnout  

In Windsor on Sept. 17, 2017, approximately 500 people arrived at the King’s-Edgehill School campus to continue Fox’s legacy.

Taya Shields, a teacher at King’s-Edgehill School and organizer of the run in Windsor said she’s grateful for the funds raised, but even happier for the awareness and the togetherness that the run brings.

Runners, walkers and bikers of all ages participated in the 2017 Windsor Terry Fox Run, which wound through the town, starting and ending at the King’s-Edgehill School.

“There have been great advances made in cancer research and Terry Fox was really the first to have that dream, when he left so many children back at the hospital where he was treated,” she said. “His goal was to help those children and that’s what we want to do, just continue his dream.”

Shields says Fox’s story continues to resonate with people so many years later because his Marathon of Hope was so ambitious.

“I think for young and old, we can all do our part, and Terry was the guy that started it all,” she said. “I just love this, I’ve been organizing it for 25 years and I’ve seen the community of Windsor and beyond continue to grow this event.”

This is the 37th year for the run in Windsor, with KES hosting it for the last 32.

The five-kilometre track started at the King’s-Edgehill campus, leading to downtown Windsor and back. RCMP assisted as an escort for the participants.

Runners, walkers and bikers of all ages participated in the 2017 Windsor Terry Fox Run, which wound through the town, starting and ending at the King’s-Edgehill School.

King’s-Edgehill School headmaster Joe Seagram said he hopes this year’s run would be the biggest yet.

“It’s important that every student understand that we’re part of a greater community,” Seagram said. “Cancer knows no boundaries, it affects children, it affects seniors and every single student here knows somebody impacted by it.”

The Windsor Terry Fox Run raised close to $17,000 in 2016. Of 70 run sites in the province last year, the Windsor run was the fourth largest.

“Each year we duke it out with HRM to see who has the largest Terry Fox Run in the province, and we’re hoping this year we’ll leapfrog the HRM in terms of donations and participants,” he added.

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