AnchorYusuf was 16 when he was diagnosed with the same cancer as Terry Fox. 

“In life, things do happen. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad. You can make the best of it and that’s all that you can do. That’s in your control … What can I do that I’ll always remember?” – Yusuf Hirji

Yusuf was a typical kid in Grade 11. His life revolved around family, friends, school, and especially sports. He was elite soccer player with the skills and ambition to play professionally. When his leg started to hurt, he thought it was a pulled hamstring. It was osteosarcoma.

From the beginning, Yusuf channelled Terry’s optimism and courage. He became the 2014 High School Run Ambassador for the Terry Fox Foundation. He visited schools and brought Terry’s message of hope to thousands of students.

The only limit is the one you set for yourself.

Yusuf’s mantra. He believed it so strongly, he had it tattooed on his arm.

Together with his family and his care team, he did everything possible to get better. But his cancer didn’t respond as hoped and Yusuf died at the tender age of 19.

When they learned he only had about six months of quality time left, Yusuf’s mom Shyrin said, “What are we going to do?” Yusuf’s answer? Everything!

He went skydiving. He visited Barcelona, Munich (for Octoberfest!), and England to see his beloved Manchester United beat archrivals Liverpool. He got right up to the stage at a music festival where concert-goers lifted him up to crowd surf – in his wheelchair!

Today, Yusuf’s light and his legacy live on in an annual youth soccer tournament in his hometown and in his family’s continued support of the Terry Fox Foundation.

To keep touching people in a way that’s so meaningful, especially for someone who is so young? It’s remarkable. It’s a meaningful legacy. 

Shyrin Hirji, Yusuf’s mom



AnchorIn 1977, when Terry was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the prognosis was bleak with a survival rate of less than 5% even with aggressive treatment. In some ways, Terry was fortunate: he lived with his cancer for more than 4 years. 

Which brings us to Sarah. 

Like Terry, Sarah was a freshman in university when she started having pain in her lower back and knee. And like Terry, she assumed it was a sports injury. It wasn’t. It was osteosarcoma: the same cancer, in the same part of her leg, as Terry. 

Sarah’s treatment was complex and involved multiple surgeries, but she didn’t lose her leg and she has been in remission for more than 20 years! 

I am so fortunate to be a 20+ year survivor of metastatic osteosarcoma.  

I was only 19 when I was diagnosed. I was sick. I was sad. And I was scared. But I knew Terry’s story and it gave me a real source of courage that I could draw from. I felt like Terry was with me, sitting on my shoulder. 

Since then, I’ve tried to be a beacon of hope for other people. I became an oncology nurse. And every year, I volunteer as a Community Run organizer in my hometown of Saskatoon. 

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel grateful or understand the true – TRUE – concept of cancer research and fighting for other people. 

Last year, Sarah decided to channel her inner Terry Fox and put her own determination and courage to the test. She signed up for the Mount Terry Fox Trek in support of cancer research.  

Despite having a completely rebuilt femur and knee, she made it to the summit!


AnchorCancer research works, but not with every cancer or every tumour. At least, not yet. 

Thanks to incredible advances in cancer research – brought to life by amazing supporters like you – osteosarcoma can have a survival rate as high as 80% depending on how early it’s diagnosed. 

Your legacy gift – every gift – to the Terry Fox Foundation supports the top 5% of cancer researchers in this country through the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI)! TFRI invests your donations in the very best researchers across Canada through its highly-competitive grants and awards programs. 

Since July is sarcoma awareness month, we’d like you to meet Dr. Joanna Przybyl, a Terry Fox New Investigator award winner. 

Dr. Przybyl is leading a project to develop a “liquid biopsy” test for osteosarcoma. 

If you’re a patient, it would be as quick and easy as a blood test. Even if your tumour is in a hard-to-reach part of the body, your blood carries its genetic signature. Measuring those markers can help determine the effectiveness of the treatment you receive. Fewer markers would mean your treatment is working. More markers could mean it’s time to try a different approach. 

If you’re a researcher, the test could identify biomarkers unique to that specific cancer. Those markers could then help classify tumours into subtypes and even predict potential outcomes from different treatments. 

If you’re an oncologist, the test could give you a low impact, accurate way to match your patient to the best treatment for their tumour type. This could also spare patients from the harsh side-effects of therapies that are unlikely to be effective.  

Your support makes it possible for TFRI to fund the Terry Fox New Investigator Awards for promising new researchers exploring bold ideas like liquid biopsies.