Can­cer sur­vivor keeps on Trekking for Terry

Windsor Star - - CITY+REGION - KELLY STEELE ksteele@post­media.com

When Al­li­son Charko was di­ag­nosed in 2009 with breast can­cer, she was thrown for a loop. But she was de­ter­mined to not let the dis­ease take over her life.

“It was re­ally scary,” said Charko, who was 27 when di­ag­nosed. “I was just newly mar­ried and start­ing a life. I just re­ally tried to stay pos­i­tive and try to find out what to do and get bet­ter quickly.”

It all started when Charko found a lump in her right breast. She was con­cerned and made an ap­point­ment with her doc­tor. Within weeks it was con­firmed she had can­cer. She was im­me­di­ately sched­uled for a lumpec­tomy fol­lowed by rounds of chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­a­tion.

By 2011, she was feel­ing bet­ter and a friend en­cour­aged her to get in­volved with other can­cer sur­vivors and those touched by can­cer. Charko formed Trekking for Terry to par­tic­i­pate in the an­nual Terry Fox Run held at the Ford Test Track that year.

“I fig­ured I’m a sur­vivor and I want to keep Terry’s bat­tle alive so I asked friends and fam­ily to join and we formed Trekking for Terry,” said the Belle River woman, who will run with her hus­band Mark. “We got some T-shirts, walked the track and raised some money. We just want to keep Terry’s legacy alive.”

This year, in recog­ni­tion of Canada’s 150th birth­day, Charko is hop­ing to get 150 peo­ple to join Trekking for Terry and par­tic­i­pate in the Te­cum­seh Terry Fox Run on Sept. 17. The event is free but Charko hopes ev­ery par­tic­i­pant will do­nate at least $10.

“I just feel so grate­ful that I can be here to par­tic­i­pate,” she said. “I am do­ing this be­cause I can and be­cause there are peo­ple who can’t any­more be­cause they aren’t with us. I feel very priv­i­leged to par­tic­i­pate in this event be­cause I sur­vived — I am a can­cer sur­vivor.”

Jan Wright, or­ga­nizer of the Te­cum­seh Terry Fox Run, said hav­ing groups like Trekking for Terry par­tic­i­pate helps grow the event. Wright has or­ga­nized the Te­cum­seh run since 2004 and has watched it be­come one of the larger runs in On­tario and the only one lo­cally. Last year, close to 1,300 par­tic­i­pants raised $93,000.

“We come from a very gen­er­ous and car­ing com­mu­nity,” Wright said.

“Can­cer af­fects every­one and I think peo­ple like that Terry Fox foun­da­tion is for all types of can­cer.”

Even though the event takes lots of work, Wright is mo­ti­vated by the fact the money raised is help­ing to make a dif­fer­ence.

“I had an old sign for the course and it said ‘Chil­dren’s leukemia is 80 per cent cur­able,’ ” Wright said.

“It’s nice be­cause I can’t use it any­more be­cause chil­dren’s leukemia is now 98.9 per cent cur­able. It shows that these types of events are help­ing to make a huge im­pact.”

For more in­for­ma­tion go to ter­ry­fox.org or Trekking­forTerry.ca.

NICK BRANCACCIO

Al­li­son and Mark Charko will be Trekking for Terry at the an­nual Terry Fox Run Sun­day, Sept. 17. They are hop­ing to be joined by 150 team­mates on race day, in hon­our of Canada’s sesqui­cen­ten­nial.

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