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Center of hope

Church president dedicates Huntsman Cancer Hospital

Under blue skies and in the shadow of the stately new Huntsman Cancer Hospital, President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated "this magnificent facility . . . designed to lift the burden of illness from those who are its victims" as a place of kindness and caring.

President Hinckley was joined by his counselors in the First Presidency and other General Authorities and civic leaders and cancer survivors in dedicating the $100 million facility in ceremonies June 21.

Situated in the courtyard near the entrance, with the Wasatch Mountains looming behind, President Hinckley addressed an audience of 1,000 by saying, "Suffering has been the burden of mankind from the beginning. We do not know why the Creator has permitted this burden to fall upon man — His noblest creation. Serious illness has befallen men of all generations, while through the centuries men and women of unselfish ways have sought means to alleviate pain, to heal and bless and prolong life.

"The Son of God when He walked the earth caused the lame to walk and the blind to see," he continued. "He came with healing in His wings. He miraculously lifted the burden of those He touched. They rejoiced in their new liberty from affliction."

In the dedicatory prayer, Presisdent Hinckley prayed that the hospital may "ever stand pre-eminent among its sister institutions around the world."

Elder Jon M. Huntsman, an Area Authority Seventy, and his wife, Karen, began the Huntsman Cancer Institute in 1995 with a $151 million pledge to construct a state-of-the-art center devoted to education, research and care of cancer patients.

In 2000, they pledged another $125 million to fund research and construct the Huntsman Cancer Hospital. Construction was completed three years after breaking ground.

The hospital is joined with the Huntsman Cancer Institute by a glass walkway, creating a campus of buildings with the University of Utah Medical Center.

In her comments, Sister Huntsman told of the engraving on the tombstone of Elder Huntsman's mother, "Sweet are the uses of adversity." Of the inscription, Karen Huntsman noted the good that comes from reaching and stretching in adversity.

Sister Huntsman recounted a phone call 39 years earlier when they were living in California and she was pregnant with their fourth child. It was her husband's father "calling to say that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Prognosis was not good.

"I remember Jon sitting down, with tears running down his face saying, 'Someday, I hope we can make a difference and lighten the burden of those with cancer.'

"I was trying to figure how to squeeze enough money out of our budget for diaper service. . . . It seemed I always had a pot of diapers boiling on the stove," she said.

"Somehow, diaper service didn't seem very important . . . as he spoke of someday putting our resources where they mattered," she said.

In the next years, Elder Huntsman lost his mother, stepmother and father to cancer. When Elder Huntsman was diagnosed with cancer in the early 1990s, he told his wife he was going to be OK. "But we need to start putting resources into cancer (research)," he said.

Sister Huntsman paid tribute to her husband "who believes so strongly in something that nothing stops him. You have to believe passionately in something," she said, "then, bit by bit, it happens."

In his comments, Elder Huntsman thanked the more than 5,000 people who donated money, and the many workers who serve with smiles. "You are the medicine," he said.

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