Terry Fox Run co-organizer fighting cancer with a steady jog

The annual run is Sunday with registration starting at 11:30 a.m.

When Tina Overbury crosses the finish line of the Terry Fox Run Sunday, she’s going to celebrate. Maybe raise her fists in the air in the triumphant Y  – by her expression you might think she’s won the Olympics. 

Even better, Tina’s survived cancer. And she’s running around to celebrate it. 

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After long-time Bowen Terry Fox Run organizer (and church minister) Shelagh MacKinnon left the island earlier this year, there was a leadership void for the Bowen run. Three women have taken on organizing duties: Amanda Ockeleon, Pam Matthews and Tina. 

The 17th annual Terry Fox Run on Bowen – the Canada-wide event is in its 38th year – will take place Sunday, September 16. There will be two courses: a 3 km course (from the church to the lake and back) and a 7 km course (from the church around the lake and back.) 

Registration, hosted by and at the Little Red Church, opens at 11:30 a.m. and the race will begin at 11:45 a.m. While the race is free, all donations are welcome and kids are encouraged to bring toonies for Terry. 

“All are welcome,” says Tina. “Wherever you are in your ability, just come.”

There’s a poster in Collins Hall where anyone can list the names of “anyone in your heart you wish to honour.” 

For Tina, the event is close to her own heart. Three years ago she was diagnosed with stage 3 tonsil cancer. 

“I spent the summer in radiation treatment,” she said. “I came through that and did my first triathlon as a way to claim my body back.” 

Since childhood Tina had been a runner, and has participated in many a local race, but the Terry Fox Run is important to her. 

“There’s something about running the lake,” said Tina. “The last thing we’re able to do [when in cancer treatment] is walk the lake.” 

She explains that there’s a vibrant community of cancer survivors on Bowen. “Having a disease like that on a place like Bowen, everyone feels it and we all talk about it.” 

Tina says that for every night of her five-week treatment, there was a meal waiting for her entire family at the head of the driveway. “And I know there are other people who’ve felt that,” she says. 

“If you’re going to get cancer, what a great thing it is to live on Bowen,” says Tina, ever the optimist. “It’s such a gift to survive this together and in nature.” 

Recently, Tina’s been photographed completing (swimming or running) races with her fists high in the air, pure ecstasy on her face. It’s sort of made her the posterchild of Bowen races. 

Beyond commenting on the ridiculousness of it all, she says that in each instance, she’s celebrating. 

“I don’t think we celebrate enough,” she says. “It’s like ‘cross the finish line, man.’ Of treatment, of a run. 

“Own it and love it because we’re still here.”

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