Dec 05, 2018 11:00 AM

Author: Susan Sheehan, President of Huntsman Cancer Foundation

A young daughter and husband sit with a woman getting infusion at huntsman cancer institute

When we broke ground on the new Senator Orrin G. Hatch Proton Therapy Center on November 20, 2018, participants noted that the magic of Huntsman Cancer Institute is that it instills hope. Hope for an effective treatment. Hope for a durable remission. Hope for one more holiday spent with loved ones.

The word “hope” transported me to a time many years ago. I had become very close to a patient who had terminal cancer. We visited at the hospital, her home, and even at Chico’s clothing store, where we shopped together for the latest summer fashions.

When my friend was reaching the end of her life, I wrote her a card quoting Emily Dickinson:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all…

I was a bit worried about my choice of poem. I wondered, “Are the words too trite for this moment? Is ‘hope’ an overused word when we don’t know what else to say?” But the choice ultimately felt right to me, and so I risked the words.

At her funeral, one of her children hugged me and thanked me for the card and choice of poem. She let me know how much the words meant to her mother and to her. She told me that the words helped them hold on during a very difficult time.

This year, I saw my friend’s daughter at our annual gala. We hadn’t seen each other in years. We hugged hello and she quoted the poem. She told me she would never forget that gesture.

The pursuit of hope embodied in cancer research and cancer treatment is no small thing after all, is it?

We have the good fortune the month of December to raise $1 million for hope. An anonymous donor and dear friend will match gifts up to $500,000. If we meet the challenge, we will have $1 million in new funds to support cancer research and cancer care. Will you help us? Go to to donate.

As you enjoy the magic of this season, help us make magic for the patients and families who walk through the doors of Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Happy holidays!


Cancer touches all of us.

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