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Cancer Action Network bus delivers message

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
CONCORD ń The sides of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network bus are covered with signatures and messages of hope and love:
“The Cure Is In The Test Tube And The Voting Booth!” one reads.
Names of those with cancer stand alongside messages in memory of those who died too soon to benefit from a cure.
Near the top of the bus is the most haunting message of all: “What If It Were You?”
Those messages and the thousands of names will act as a mobile petition when its 48-state tour ends this autumn, in time for Election Day.
During its stop at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday, the Cancer Action Network picked up more signatures and more support from potential donors and members.
As the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society, CAN’s message is simple: Use government funds to make curing cancer a priority, and to give cancer patients access to that cure when it’s found.
“We need support from the government,” said Barbara Courts, a breast cancer survivor from Huntersville who drove to see the bus on its second-to-last of 15 North Carolina stops.
Courts said she was glad to be a part of the effort. “ACS was there for me when I needed them, when I was diagnosed,” she said.
Numerous cancer survivors were present and spoke of their experiences, including Salisbury Post reporter Kathy Chaffin, who has shared details of her battle with recurring breast cancer with the public.
“Writing about my battle with breast cancer was not something I chose to do,” Chaffin said in her remarks to cancer survivors. “It was an assignment from my Divine Editor.”
She encouraged the audience to cherish their lives and to try to make a difference for those who are hurting ó reminding them “that at some point in your life, if you haven’t already, you will experience suffering, too.”
“Each new day presents a wonderful opportunity to be a force for good in the world,” Chaffin said.
Those who attended the event had a chance to sign their names to the side of the bus. The overflowing of names and messages of support will be presented as a petition to lawmakers.
“Our federal legislators hold the purse strings to 90 percent of funding for research,” Genny Mozolak said.
A Salisbury resident and a cancer survivor, Mozolak is a delegate for the American Cancer Society’s lobbying efforts in her congressional district, represented by Howard Coble, R-6th District.
“We believe that by 2015 there will be a cure,” she said. “We will present these signatures … saying, ‘We want you to do all you can to prevent us not having access to health care.’ ”
Her brother, Maxey Sanderson, was emcee of the event ó and is also married to a cancer survivor and has a very personal stake in seeing the government do more.
“I suspect the lives of everyone here have been touched by cancer,” Sanderson said.
His wife, Gay, was diagnosed with a rare form of inflammatory breast cancer and was told that she might only live three more years.
Nine years later, thanks to research and medication, she is a survivor.
“But our insurance pays $14,000 a month for those drugs,” Sanderson said. “We could just as easily have been unfortunate. How many people don’t have the same outcome because of a lack of health care?”
Support for expanded health care has been hard to come by in Congress. That’s why Sanderson and others want to see their words and signatures make an impact.
Using laptops and cameras set up on site, visitors recorded their own stories of cancer survival and hopes for more aid.
“That’s what ACS-CAN is about,” Sanderson said. “It’s wrong to have treatments available and deny them (to patients).”
“Because of an economic condition, we let people die.”
More information on the Fight Back Express is available at www.acscan.org.

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