As if you were going to die tomorrow

Jose A. Vidal
Published in
4 min readMar 31, 2024


It is the Spanish singer Leiva, and not I, who gives the title to this month’s article, the song is from his album “Nuclear” (2019). Also, attending to the lyrics of the chorus it tells us:

“Do it!

As if you had nothing to lose

As if you were going to die tomorrow

Even if you see it too far away.”

That must have been what Terry Fox thought. Terry was a cancer patient who ran 5,373 km across Canada in just 143 days before dying.

Terry thrilled the whole country. His goal was to receive one Canadian dollar for each Canadian in the population — at that time 24 million people — and he achieved his goal by raising over 24 million Canadian dollars in February 1981.

A year after Terry Fox’s death, the Terry Fox Foundation was created, which promotes amateur races throughout Canada and in several countries to support the fight against cancer. According to this Foundation, over 715 million Canadian dollars have already been raised for cancer research in his name.

His life was a testimony of courage, determination, and altruism, which continues to ignite hearts and minds long after his death. Terry’s story is a life lesson that reminds us of the importance of living each day as if it were the last and the transformative power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Terry was born on July 28, 1958, in Canada. From a young age, he showed exceptional talent for sports, especially excelling in basketball and athletics. However, his life took a dramatic turn at the age of 18 when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer. The news that he would have to have his right leg amputated six inches above the knee might have discouraged anyone, but Terry decided to face his illness with unwavering courage and determination.

It was during his convalescence in the hospital that Terry encountered the tragic reality of the disease and the lack of funds for cancer research. Inspired by his own struggle and the suffering of other patients, he decided to embark on a bold mission: to run across Canada to raise funds for cancer research. Thus was born the “Marathon of Hope.”

On April 12, 1980, fourtyfour years ago in twelve days time, Terry began his epic journey from the east coast of Canada, with the determination to run over 5,000 kilometers to the west coast. With a prosthetic leg and an indomitable spirit, he ran a full marathon every day, pushing the limits of human endurance and receiving the attention and support of people from all over the world.

As he traveled along roads and trails, Terry became a symbol of hope and inspiration for millions of people. His dedication and sacrifice deeply resonated with those who followed his story, demonstrating that the power of an individual to make a real difference in the world has no bounds.

Terry’s journey was not without its challenges. Despite his incredible determination, his body began to succumb to the physical strain of “his marathon.” After 143 days and over 5,000 kilometers traveled, Terry was forced to stop his run due to a relapse related to the disease.

Although he did not achieve his goal of crossing Canada, the impact of his initiative remains relevant today. Terry’s story continues to inspire people of all ages and nationalities, demonstrating that true heroism lies in the courage to face adversity with dignity and determination.

Terry passed away on June 28, 1981, at the age of 22. However, his legacy lives on through the Foundation, to continue his mission of raising funds for cancer research. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised hundreds of millions of dollars and funded numerous research projects that have led to significant advances in the fight against cancer.

Terry’s legacy extends beyond donations and scientific advances. His story remains a source of inspiration for all those facing challenges in their lives. It teaches us that even in the darkest moments, there is always a spark of hope that can light the way to a better tomorrow.

Terry’s life reminds us of the importance of living each day as if it were the last, of embracing every opportunity with passion and determination, and never losing faith in the ability of the human spirit to overcome any obstacle. His legacy will endure as long as there are people willing to follow his example and continue the fight against cancer on behalf of all those who can no longer do so.

And you? What would you do? Answer as if you were going to die tomorrow…

ES version


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Jose A. Vidal