This year, Kingston’s Terry Fox Run raised more than $10,000 thanks to the efforts of 248 participants and volunteers, but for one family, the event had added significance.
Shelley Mallen, who was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer less than a year ago at the age of 45, decided to take part in the run.
Her hope is to get people to avoid the surprise she had and go see their doctor at the first sign of trouble.
“I thought, being young and healthy, I could box up all those diseases like diabetes and cancer and heart problems and put them on a shelf. (I) thought ‘I’m young and healthy, it’s not going to ever happen to me,'” says Mallen.
Leading up to her diagnosis, Mallen thought the symptoms she was experiencing were just everyday issues, not a serious disease that would change her life.
“I’m vegetarian, non-smoker, non-drinker, and I have exercised my whole life. I’ve been running since grade school so it’s just a cautionary tale, really,” says Mallen. “I thought I was experiencing some digestive tract problems, and I guess it was something much bigger.”
Mallen isn’t alone in her journey; her husband, Dan, is a survivor of leukemia.
The couple has two daughters. Their youngest, Jodie, ran with them and says her mom’s perseverance has inspired her.
“She’s just a really brave person. She’s the strongest person I know,” she says. “I know it sounds cliché but it’s true. It just motivates me to keep going. If something happens in life, you just have to work through it. You don’t just stop, keep going.”
Mallen says the support she has received through organizations such as the Terry Fox Run is incredible, and like the Terry Fox himself, she hopes to raise awareness and encourage others to get checked out when something feels off.