Terry Fox Run hits home for Sewell

Larry Sewell is looking forward to participating in this year
Larry Sewell is looking forward to participating in this year's Terry Fox Run in Burnaby again. He was unable to run last year and only help out as a volunteer as he struggled with symptons that turned into his own battle with cancer.

It will be a special moment for Larry Sewell when he laces up his sneakers to for this year’s Terry Fox Run on Sept. 16.

Sewell looks forward to the run every year as a way to honour his adoptive parents, both of whom he lost to cancer. But he was unable to participate last year, helping out as a volunteer instead, because the pain in his back was too great. That pain turned out to be his own battle with cancer.

Sewell was a fit, active 54-year-old who ran, cycled, played golf with his buddies. But five months of back pain had curtailed most of those pastimes. He saw a chiropractor, got massages, thought it would eventually just pass.

When the right side of Sewell’s groin area started to swell up, he decided to see a doctor. The reaction of the nurse told him his persistent pain was more serious than a pinched nerve or strained muscle.

He was sent for a battery of tests, CT scan, ultrasound. One doctor suspected lymphoma, then the word pancreas came up.

Sewell was stricken with fear.

“My heart was just thumping,” says Sewell, whose father had succumbed to pancreatic cancer, a big, strapping man reduced by the illness to a shadow of his former self in less than eight months.

He was referred to an oncologist who ordered even more tests. In November, he underwent a biopsy on the lymph nodes on his groin’s right side. He waited 10 fearful days for the results; they were inconclusive.

Sewell says he was frustrated. He still wasn’t feeling well and he didn’t know what was wrong.

“Your emotions are going crazy.”

A second biopsy in January finally produced a diagnosis: testicular cancer.

Most commonly seen in men aged 20-39 years, Sewell’s doctor had no explanation why it had struck him much later. Just plain bad luck he said, but it was highly curable.

From February to April, he endured three rounds of chemotherapy. He felt sick, he lost his hair. His energy depleted, he came to rely on friends to help him manage his daily routines.

“You take so much for granted,” says Sewell. “Life isn’t normal, you feel so useless.”

Unable to work regularly, he lost himself in comedy shows on TV. He spent a lot of time filling out paperwork to get reimbursed for his medical expenses.

“There’s so much you have to go through besides the physical side,” says Sewell. “It just added to the stress.”

By May he was strong enough to get some of his independence back. In June, after more tests, his doctor shook his hand and told him as far as he was concerned, the chemotherapy had done its job. In July he got the all-clear.

But, says Sewell, he knows he’ll never really be in the clear.

“There’s always that one per cent chance when you go see the doctor.”

That’s why he’s eager to get his sneakers back on and at least walk the five kilometre route around Burnaby’s Central Park; he wants to do his part to help improve those odds even more.

“It will be a long five km, but it will give me time to pause and think,” says Sewell. “It means everything to me.”

This year’s Terry Fox Run will be held Sunday, Sept. 16 at Swangard Stadium. Registration begins at 9 a.m. ceremonies an hour later and the run commences at 10:20 a.m.

Pre-registration isn’t required, nor is there any minimum donation.

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Anna at 604-716-2693 or



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