WASHINGTON--Americans want cancer cured. Polls show it. Letters to
Congress and newspapers say so, and so do calls to talk shows. But
will Americans in large numbers turn out here and in cities across
the country to demand greater action against the nations second
leading killer? Thats the question confronting organizers of
"The March: Coming Together to Conquer Cancer," the Sept.
26 event, to be held in Washington and more than 75 cities
nationwide, that seeks "to make cancer the Number One national
health care priority."
In the final weeks before the event, patterned more after Earth Day
activities than any protest parade, organizers labored to ensure a
good turnout and to capture the attention of the public, members of
Congress, and the media.
"My hope is that the legacy of The March will be that we took a
weekend of the countrys time and devoted it to cancer, and by
doing that, we energized a new generation of people and
reinvig-orated the War on Cancer," Ellen Stovall, executive
director of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and
president of The March, told Oncology News International.
The three major goals of The March are more federal funding for all
cancer research; increased access to quality cancer care for all
Americans; and a renewed commitment from all elected officials to
conquer cancer. Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, a prostate cancer
survivor, serves as its honorary chair.
Ms. Stovall conceived the idea of The March. Under the prodding of TV
host Larry King and two prominent cancer survivors--ABC news
personality Sam Donaldson and financier Michael Milken--she announced
on Kings show last fall that it would take place in towns and
cities nationwide. Making this actually happen has proved an enormous
effort. Although March officials declined to speculate on an exact
attendance in Washington, the events website predicts "tens
of thousands" will gather.
The "anchor event" for most rallies will be a candlelight
vigil, usually on Friday, Sept. 25. The one in Washington, DC, will
be held near the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
"This occasion to come together to conquer cancer would be less
than true to its real mission if we did not pause to reflect on
people who cannot be with us," Ms. Stovall said.
As participants gather on The Mall near the Capitol on Sept. 26, they
will have the opportunity to meet riders completing a cross-country
bicycle trek promoting The March, which began in San Diego on July 20 (see photo).
The groups leader, Dani Grady, 40, is a 10-year survivor of
advanced breast cancer.
Host Selma Schimmel of "The Group Room," a weekly radio
talk show devoted to cancer issues, plans to air taped segments from
both Washington and Los Angeles as part of her Sept. 27 broadcast.
Events outside Washington include a march, rally, and health fair in
San Diego; a public forum in Atlanta; an educational symposium in
Chicago; a statewide petition drive in Kansas; and a parade of cancer
survivors on the field and a moment of silence prior to the
nationally televised University of Michigan-Michigan State University