Zachery Davis hid behind his mother's legs, sporting a T-shirt with the phrase "Enlist in the war on cancer" on the back. Davis is only 5 years old, but cancer has already touched his life.
Diagnosed with leukemia, Davis has been receiving treatment from Primary Children's Medical Center. "It has been a battle for him, but he has been so amazing,"said his mother, Tonja Glassman-Lemus. "I don't think I could do it."Davis joined dozens of people Saturday to march from the City County Building to the Capitol for the fight against cancer. The MARCH, "Coming Together to Conquer Cancer," is a grassroots campaign to promote public awareness and to increase funding for research on cancer prevention and treatment.
Davis smiled broadly and posed as his mother snapped a picture in front of the Capitol.
"When I'm having a hard day, I look at him, and my problems seem trivial," said Glassman-Lemus. "It's good to know that there are people out there who are willing and able to help."
At the same time as The MARCH in Salt Lake City, 60 Utah delegates joined thousands of marchers at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The goal is to make the cure and prevention of cancer the nation's top priority, and to ensure quality care is accessible to everyone.
"It's time for Congress to be more aware of cancer research," said Raymond L. White, executive director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute. "Cancer is not a single disease with one cure, it's many diseases which need many cures."
Mary Lou Beckwith has been out of breast cancer treatment for more than three years. "Cancer is a very personal issue, something you alone have to deal with, but it is also a community issue. That's why this event is important," Beckwith said. "I'm doing well. I aim for the five-year mark, that's the hurdle, but really I take it a day at a time."
"Cancer is about hope," said Jon Huntsman, Jr., president of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. "The moment we forget that hope is a commodity, we lose every-thing."
The Huntsman family wants to do something useful with the resources it has, he said. "It takes funding. The federal government is not funding enough. We are not going to rest until we find a cure to bring an end to the suffering."
The true heroes in society today are those who are fighting for their lives this day and always, and those people who are helping them, Huntsman said. "If I were a betting man, I'd say the cures for cancer are going to come right out of the Huntsman Cancer Institute."
Susan Harwood was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 1991. After surgery and treatment, Harwood's cancer has been in remission for more than four years. "I'm here because of the research and funding," she said.
Harwood still suffers the consequences of her treatment. "I had to relearn how to speak and write. I also have verbal memory loss and partial paralysis on the right side," she said. "I find laughing through this whole thing is the best medicine."