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Cancer Survivors Seek More US Reseach Funding to Combat Disease

Cancer survivors, researchers and advocates say more money is needed for cancer research. Their goal: to get the U.S. government to make cancer a national priority. VOA's Carol Pearson narrates.

They called it the "Celebration on the Hill" because that's where cancer survivors, cancer researchers and those who support more research funding met just down the hill from the U.S. Capitol.

"For the last five years, I've been living with breast cancer, stage four breast cancer, which means it is advanced throughout the bones in my body. I've been doing well for the last five years," one participant said.

Thousands of people --Americans and international supporters -- traveled to Washington, D.C., to voice their support for cancer research and to persuade the federal government to make fighting cancer a national priority.

Dale Dawson is a nurse at a cancer center. She has been diagnosed with breast cancer twice. "I'm here to put a face on cancer and to let the congressmen and senators know we have a voice and we will be heard."

Dawson says if her diagnosis had come 15 years earlier, she would not have survived. The American Cancer Society and the Cancer Action Network sponsored this event.

Wendy Selig is with the American Cancer Society. "Last year, for the first time, the Congress cut funding for cancer at the National Cancer Research Institute. This year, there are proposals to cut it again, and that's exactly the wrong direction. Better ways to detect cancer -- that's why we're here."

Cancer survivors and patients, such as Christa Jailey, see continued funding as an urgent need. "We are on the cusp of finding all kinds of treatments, and if not the cure, then treatments that let people like me live with cancer as a manageable, chronic disease."

An example of the advances in treating cancer is the cervical cancer vaccine that became available this year. It is the first vaccine developed specifically to prevent cancer.

The aim of the rally was partly political, for some it as partly therapeutic, for all, it was highly personal. They came to fight for their cause, for patients, to gain strength from other cancer survivors, and to remember family and friends who have died from the disease.

Said one participant: "I put 'We came back to see you again, Daddy.' We actually did this banner in memory of my dad."