WASHINGTON--On the night before The March, as she waited for a
candlelight vigil to begin, Ruth Kirkhuff talked about the son she
lost to brain cancer and why she had journeyed here from Derry, New
Hampshire. Matthews tumor was diagnosed at age 11 months, and
he died Sept. 2, 1994. "We had a lot of ups and downs," she
said. "Being here helps me keep his memory alive."
Several thousand people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial and
along its lengthy reflecting pool. The mood and the faces were often
solemn; the program almost a revival meeting in tone, with music and
speeches, and the names of cancer victims flashing on screens beside
the stage. "If we have the faith, God has the power," the
Rev. Jesse Jackson said.
Cancer survivors appeared, including figure skating star Scott
Hamilton, 7-year-old Morgan OBrien, musician Herbie Mann, and
the Rev. Thomas L. Walker, author of Brother to Brother: You
Dont Have to Die of Prostate Cancer.
But many found their greatest inspiration and solace in the people
with whom they shared and exchanged stories. Theresa Mullens of Big
Stone Gap, Va, has seen her mother and sister die of cancer. "I
feel the cure could be found if we just had the resources," she said.
The cancer deaths of two friends and a brother-in-law (all within the
last 4 years) and a desire to be with others who had suffered similar
losses drew Bill Carney from Springfield, Va. He, too, spoke of
getting increased funding for cancer. "I know there is not much
an individual can do about it, but maybe in numbers...," he
said, letting his thought trail off.