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Conquering cancer: Victim's family hopes new license plate

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http://www.dailynewstribune.com/localRe ... leid=59370

Conquering cancer: Victim's family hopes new license plate will help

By Jennifer Roy / Daily News Staff

Thursday, July 28, 2005

NEWTON -- When Susan Zuker's husband, Michael, succumbed to lung cancer in January 2004, the Newton resident and her two sons decided to hit the road.

Now, they are hoping thousands of others will follow.

Zuker and her sons formed the Conquer Cancer Coalition of Massachusetts and are working to get a license plate that will support cancer research on as many vehicles as possible.

Zuker said she was "in a fog" in the month after Michael, a seemingly healthy 53-year-old, died. "He was so courageous," she said of her husband of 31 years. "He was a wonderful dad, a really great guy."

She said her husband, who had quit smoking 12 years before his death, ate well and exercised regularly.

He developed a cough in August 2003 and was diagnosed with lung cancer about a month later.

"We thought it was bronchitis. He fought hard. By the time it was diagnosed, it was too late," Zuker said. "This was supposed to be the best time of my life...things will never be the same."

Now, Zuker and her sons, Matthew and Jonathan, are fighting -- for themselves, Michael and the other victims, survivors and families who have been struck by cancer.

Zuker said she decided to campaign for the conquer cancer license plate after seeing a car from New Jersey with a similar plate. She said she researched the plate and found there are about 50,000 on New Jersey roads.

"We sat in those waiting rooms, we saw people with all kinds of cancer. Each one of us were in the same boat," she said.

Zuker said the organization has received more than 900 applications for the plate, which was designed by her son Jonathan.

The organization needs to receive 3,000 orders to get the plate made. If they receive 1,500 orders, they can put up a $100,000 bond to get the plate made, said Amie O'Hearn, a Registry of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman.

She said if an organization posts the bond, but then sells at least 3,000 plates, it gets the money back.

"We have never had to take the bond," she said. [continue]

Conquering cancer: Victim's family hopes new license plate will help

[continued from previous page]

Zuker said she is certain the plate will be a success.

"We wanted to keep fighting for my dad and for everyone else in this situation," said Jonathan Zuker. "Every day there are moments where it hits so hard and it's hard to take the next step or the next breath."

The conquer cancer license plate is in the design stage, but will likely include a candle with an eternal flame, a teardrop to signify the reality of the disease, a star to help you find your way, a boat and a sunrise or sunset -- depending on your point of view.

"It's the most ultimate feeling of hope and sadness," Jonathan Zuker said. "There's a lot of symbolism there."

He said he created the design in watercolor and asked for feedback.

"People responded to it so well," he said.

State Rep. Ruth B. Balser, D-Newton, said Susan Zuker -- her longtime friend -- asked her to help get the license plate off the ground. She said both were under the impression Balser would have to file legislation.

Not the case, said O'Hearn.

"Anyone can come up with a plate idea," she said. "They just have to establish a charity and need to meet the requirements of the law."

She said the special plate will cost motorists an extra $40 every two years over the normal registration fee.

Susan Zuker said $12 from the first payment will be taken by the state to make the plate. The rest will be donated to the charity.

"It's a great project. I really have to applaud her," said Balser. "I just really support her. It's terrific and it's really a wonderful thing the commonwealth does."

Susan Zuker said she expects the plate to sell itself.

"It has been uplifting and heartwrenching," she said. "You get solace in knowing you are not alone. In the worst of times the voice of strangers comes through loud and clear.

"I won't save the world," she said, "but if you touch one life, you will make a difference." [continue]

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Susan Zuker and her sons, Michael, left, and Jonathan, are mounting a campaign to sell Conquering Cancer license plates. (Bear Cieri photo)

[continued from previous page]

For more information, call Susan Zuker at 888-945-5266 or 617-796-9191 or visit www.conquercancer.org.

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