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Remembering Those Who Could Not March

Remembering Those Who Could Not March

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. Matthew’s 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 O’Brien, musician Herbie Mann, and the Rev. Thomas L. Walker, author of Brother to Brother: You Don’t 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.

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