Eva Johnston has had a busy couple of weeks. The nine-year-old Huntsville resident has been hard at work with her family, canvassing for donations to the Terry Fox Foundation.
It’s a cause close to Eva’s heart– when she was three years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent two and a half years of chemotherapy. Eva has now gone four years without needing treatment, and her face has gone up on posters across the country for Terry Fox School Runs this week.
“It means more money for research, and that’s really important,” says Eva. “Because I had it, and I want all the kids that are still in the hospital to try and fight it. Because if we have more money, it means more research.”
Eva and her family participated in the Huntsville Terry Fox Run on Sunday, raising more than $3,400 for the cause– part of the just under $100,000 raised across Muskoka. They’ll also be participating in the school-run fundraiser on Friday.
“I’m feeling really excited because I love running,” says Eva, adding that she may want to run competitively when she’s older.
Eva’s mother, Jennifer, says the family was “fortunate” that Eva’s form of cancer is a common one, which means treatments were more readily available. However, she says rarer cancers, such as osteosarcoma, which Terry Fox had, often fall by the wayside.
“The Terry Fox Foundation definitely puts emphasis on those harder-to-treat cancers, and on finding kinder, gentler treatments for children and adults,” says Jennifer. “So people aren’t left with being cured of their disease, but having a secondary health issue afterwards that can be just as detrimental.”
Jennifer says that makes it all the more important that cancer research gets the funds and awareness it needs.
“Although childhood cancer is rare, it does happen. So I think by sharing Eva’s story, it makes it a little more personal, makes people realize the importance of raising awareness,” says Jennifer. “Because it isn’t someone else’s kid. It could be anybody’s kid, it could be your kid. It was my kid.”
“So many people think that it happens to other families,” says Jennifer. “There was this one time that, until my child was diagnosed with cancer, we weren’t that family either.”