Meet John – he’s kinda awesome
John Hopkins was working in Winnipeg when he first heard about the young man running across Canada. “To know a man on one leg made it half way was extraordinary” John shares. “And his efforts have united Canada with so many runs done in his name.” Terry’s eventual death had a strong impact on John.
John began volunteering, with his wife Helen, for the Terry Fox Run in Richmond, BC in 1986. Richmond is the community where he and his wife Helen made a home, raised their son, and took part in their first Terry Fox Run. Later, it was where he also first felt personally impacted by cancer.
In 1999 Helen was diagnosed with lymphoma, and so began a twelve-year journey with cancer. Like many people faced with a life-threatening illness, they wanted all the information they could get. Through research and conversations with Helen’s doctors, they quickly learned how complicated and unpredictable cancer is. The number of treatment options were limited and for many cancer types, there was a “one size fits all” approach. After being treated for lymphoma, Helen underwent two operations for breast cancer and then melanoma of the eye, which metastasized to her liver. The cancer wouldn’t let up.
Helen passed away five years ago. She died in the palliative care facility she helped set up at Richmond Hospital where she worked. John and Helen were married for 49 years and loved each other deeply but unfortunately John’s cancer journey doesn’t end there.
Two years ago, John was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. After two successful operations, he is now a cancer survivor – and has the Terry Fox red t-shirt to prove it! He knows there were people with the same cancer who came before him and who were not as fortunate but he wants to keep the momentum alive so that people diagnosed in the future have the best chance of survival.
John firmly believes that high quality research is the key to curing this disease. That is why he is a committed long-time volunteer Run Organizer, fundraiser and even left a gift in his will to The Terry Fox Foundation. He wants to ensure he is giving back to his community in a meaningful and long-term way.
“My words to live by are care, share, give, and receive. At certain points in our lives, we’re the ones caring and providing for people, and during other times, we learn to receive support. I’ve been through both stages and am committed to providing hope for people with cancer for years to come.” Says John.