Local Terry Foxers celebrate surviving cancer

Nancy Brodrecht is a 25-year breast cancer survivor. She and her dog, Kyra, will be taking part in their second Wilmot Terry Fox Run in September.

While Terry Fox supporters are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Marathon of Hope this year, Wilmot resident Nancy Brodrecht has another reason to celebrate. In 2020, she’s marking 25 years as a cancer survivor.

Brodrecht, who lives near Punkeydoodles Corners, was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 1995, at the age of 39. She had surgery, followed by months of chemotherapy.

“Recovery from surgery was quick,” she said. “Two days in and out. My lymph nodes were tested, and a bone scan confirmed the cancer had not spread. I was very grateful and relieved, but I knew the chemo would be the next challenge to face.”

“Chemo treatments began shortly after my recovery from surgery. For six months, I went every two weeks for a blood test, two quick injections, and a small white pill to take daily at home. The injections left a metallic taste in my mouth. I was nauseated, and to this day I have a hard time with tiny white pills.”

“I relied on family, friends and my spiritual faith that God would take care of me,” she added. “My husband was an excellent nurse and looked after me, as well as the daily household chores that needed to be done. My son was too young to understand why his Mom was not her usual energetic self. Family and friends pitched in to drive me back and forth to the hospital for treatments. I was very grateful for their support and encouragement.”

“Chemo took its toll on my body, especially my white blood cell counts. I couldn’t return to work until I was ready physically, emotionally, and mentally. It took quite a few years to feel somewhat normal again.”

Brodrecht and her Irish Red and White Setter, Kyra, took part in the Wilmot Terry Fox Run for the first time in 2019. She wore a special red t-shirt, given by the Terry Fox Foundation to cancer survivors who take part in the Run. This exclusive club is known as Terry’s Team, and their shirts are a symbol that cancer research saves lives.

“I was proud to wear my red survivor t-shirt and walk the long route with Kyra. This year, Kyra and I will walk the country roads to celebrate the 40th anniversary.”

Ross Eichler and his wife, Jane, have participated in the Wilmot Terry Fox Run since 2016. Ross is the captain of The Morningside Walkers team, which has raised over $8,700 for cancer research.

Ross Eichler and his wife, Jane, have participated in the Wilmot Terry Fox Run since 2016. Ross is the captain of The Morningside Walkers team, which has raised over $8,700 for cancer research.

According to a 2019 Canadian Cancer Society report, age is the most important risk factor for cancer. Cancer rates peak in males aged 85 years and older and females aged 80 to 84 years, with nine in 10 of all cancers expected to be diagnosed in Canadians aged 50 years and older. Almost all lung and prostate cancers are expected to occur in people 50 years of age or older, and the survival rate for prostate cancer is over 95% among males diagnosed before 75 years of age.

“I had prostate cancer at age 55,” said Morningside resident, Ross Eichler. “My treatment was to have the cancer removed by surgery, as I did not want to have any part of it left in me. I was lucky that it was found early and they were able to remove my prostrate and get it out. I have been free and clear since. I had an excellent nurse - my wife, Jane - and together we have carried on with our lives, hopefully for years to come.”

Like Brodrecht, Eichler wears a red Terry’s Team cancer survivor’s t-shirt. He’s the captain of The Morningside Walkers team, who are planning on joining the Wilmot Terry Fox Run in the fall. The New Hamburg adult lifestyle community has been part of the local event since 2016, raising over $8,700 for cancer research so far.

“After 19 years, I still look around and see people that have really suffered from that ugly disease, and they are true heroes. Yes, I am a survivor, and am very proud to be. I feel very fortunate to be able to assemble our Morningside team to participate in the Wilmot Terry Fox Run and be a symbol of hope for everyone affected. When I mentioned the Terry Fox Run and getting a team together, I was pleasantly - not surprised, because I know we have a lot of caring people in our Village - but maybe humbled by their responses.”

COVID-19 has forced the Terry Fox Foundation to rethink how it could hold its flagship fundraiser. In May, it announced that this year’s run on September 20 would avoid public gatherings by going “virtual”. Rather than meeting at the New Hamburg Arena for the opening ceremonies before setting off together, participants are being asked to fundraise online, and then do their own personalised version of the run.

Dubbed “One day, your way,” people can register online, start collecting pledges, and then take part by running, walking, cycling or wheeling wherever they are, whether it’s in their own backyard, around the block, or up the street. As always, participants can do as little or as much as they want in the non-competitive event. There are no minimum pledges or entry fees, and it will be a way for people to celebrate 40 years of hope.

Eichler said, “I think Terry’s determination to finish what he started was, and should be, an inspiration to all of us.”

The Wilmot Terry Fox Run can be found on Facebook, and people can register at www.wilmotterryfox.ca. Nigel Gordijk and his wife, Cheryl, have organized the local run since 2013.