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2020 Terry Fox Gold Medal winner dedicated to supporting local Cystic Fibrosis community

September 11, 2020
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By Norah Wang

While most of us enjoy making the most of our lives, SFU’s 2020 Terry Fox Gold Medalist, Meta Vaughan, is grateful to just have a life.

Born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs, Vaughan was not expected to live past childhood. However, with constant treatment and a strong will to live, she is now 35.

Despite her severely debilitating physical condition, which requires hours of daily treatment, and causes unexpected flare-ups requiring days- or months-long hospital stays, Vaughan aspires to more than just survival.

A member of the Patient Advisory Committee (PAC) for the St. Paul’s Hospital Cystic Fibrosis Clinic for the past six years, she has worked to create a supportive community for CF patients and improve their communication with ward staff. In addition, she advocated for the approval of proposed changes to Canada’s Medicines Pricing Review Board in a quest to improve drug access in Canada for CF patients.

In fall 2019, she enrolled in SFU’s School of Interactive Art and Technology as an MA candidate to acquire more skills for supporting the CF patient community. Unfortunately, due to an acute flare-up earlier this year, Vaughan had to temporarily withdraw from her spring 2020 classes.

This month, at SFU’s annual Terry Fox Run event, which is virtual this year, the university is recognizing Vaughan’s dedication and courage in the face of adversity. Vaughan is awarded with the 2020 Terry Fox Gold Medal, which includes a $5,000-prize and a plaque. The award is presented annually to an SFU student who has not only demonstrated courage in the face of adversity but who has also helped others in similar situations, serving as a role model.

This fall Vaughan has returned to class, with plans to use her SIAT experiences to develop a system that will transform CF patients’ treatment times into a more emotionally fulfilling experience.

“My greatest motivation for pursuing focused research in a university setting is to add a piece of the puzzle to the CF care experience,” says Vaughan. “I would love to transform the greatest challenge I have faced into something that lightens the experience of current and future CFers, and all those who love us.”

Due to COVID-19, SFU is hosting a virtual celebration of the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. Starting Sunday, Sept. 20, the SFU community is invited to participate in the 40th Marathon of Hope by walking/running/cycling in your home or community. We encourage participants to share your event photos on social media using #SFUTerryFox. For more information, please see http://www.sfu.ca/terryfox/event.html

Meta Vaughan is awarded with the 2020 Terry Fox Gold Medal, which includes a $5,000-prize and a plaque.