Ron Regier is getting ready to celebrate a milestone anniversary in his life – one he’s been anxiously awaiting for nearly five years.
“We’re a week away,” he said of the upcoming Aug. 13 date, which marks the day in 2012 when he had his last cancer surgery. “It means a lot. Often, when you talk to the doctors … that’s one of their baselines: if you can make it five years, then you’re doing really well.
“The first time, I didn’t quite make it.”
The first time was Sept. 1, 2006, when doctors removed a diseased piece of Regier’s colon. He remained in remission until the summer of the fourth year, when he learned his colon cancer had returned – this time, with metastases to his liver.
“I was two or three months shy,” he recalled. “I didn’t quite make it five years.”
Chemotherapy, radiation and another surgery followed, and now, as that magic five-year date again approaches, the retired accountant is ready to face whatever comes his way.
“Those dates,” he said, “They’ll be in my mind forever.”
Another date Regier keeps close to his heart is Sept. 17 – the Sunday set aside for Cochrane’s 2017 Terry Fox Run, which his daughter Lindsay organizes each year.
“When it affects you like that,” Lindsay said of her father’s cancer journey, “it has become my cause.”
The 5K walk and 10K Terry Fox Run start at 11 a.m. at Mitford Park and will be followed by a community barbecue.
Registration is by donation and 100 per cent of the money goes toward funding cancer research.
Last year, 180 Cochranites participated and raised $10,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation.
Regier said he likes to help out at the Cochrane run, setting up signs and doing whatever else Lindsay needs him to do to ensure the fun event – for an important cause – is a success.
“I enjoy supporting her in her effort,” said Regier, adding he doesn’t think he could have made it through the difficult times of cancer without the unwavering support from his two daughters and his wife of 47 years.
“The support they’ve shown me has been unbelievable. It’s a tough journey … you go through some pretty awful stuff. You need to have people in your life and things in your life that you can lean on. You can’t thank them enough.”
Regier said he also hopes the Terry Fox Run can be a platform for him to remind people to get their colon checked regularly – something he avoided until it was too late.
“My doctor had been telling me for years to go for a colonoscopy. I just kept sluffing it off and sluffing it off,” he said, adding a routine check is how his initial diagnosis was discovered. “It’s not the most pleasant thing in the world, but it can save you a lot of pain.”
Lindsay is happy to provide that platform for her father, saying she loves to see him out on the course in Cochrane – both for her self and for others who are taking part.
“He gets to wear his survivor T-shirt. It’s really inspirational,” she said. “It just adds a personal touch to the run when we have people who have survived cancer. It really helps people understand why it’s so important that we’re raising money for it.”
It’s for precisely that reason that cancer survivor Sharon MacDonald has shared her story with Terry Fox Run participants for the last couple of years. The FCSS worker was diagnosed 11 years ago with an aggressive form of lymphoma – while nine months pregnant with her son. He was born two days later, and she spent the next four years in recovery.
She knows, while her story is a heartbreaking one, it’s not uncommon: nearly 50 per cent of Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, including 206,000 who will be diagnosed this year alone.
“Every single person represented in those statistics has a story … it has a human face. It was important to me to represent that human face,” said MacDonald. “I knew my (story) was representative of the stories of so many others.”
Regier said he has learned so much from sharing his journey through cancer and he hopes that those who participate in September’s Terry Fox Run will also be inspired to do and give what they can.
“Make the most of every day,” he said. “Who knows what tomorrow will bring? You don’t know, so you’ve got to do things when you can.”
Registration for the 2017 Cochrane Terry Fox Run is open now at www.terryfox.org/run.