Friday, December 19, 2008

Fighting Cancer On Capitol Hill

By the age of 22, Richard Hughes was a graduate student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and had been promoted to the Arkansas State Board of Health by Governor Huckabee. But in March of 2006, his life took a drastic turn. Hughes was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, stage four Glioblastoma.

Hughes' neurosurgeon opted for a craniotomy and chemotherapy. After getting a second opinion, Hughes learned that he actually had Ganglioglioma grade 2 cancer and, assuredly, a more curative cancer. "Cancer turned my life upside down," says Hughes. "It made me assess my life. My faith got me through it."

Now cancer free, Hughes uses his position on the State Board of Health to help others who are fighting cancer. A graduate student at UAMS, Hughes is getting his Masters in Public Health and is focusing on public health campaigns in Arkansas. "Growing up my focus was on politics and policy, and after having cancer, my perspective shifted to health policy," says Hughes.

Hughes is also active in American Cancer Society advocacy initiatives, including volunteering for the ACS CAN Fight Back Express bus that rolled through the state in July 2008. He has also had the opportunity to lobby in Washington D.C., along with other volunteers, for FDA regulation of tobacco products and for increased funding for cancer research.

A Jonesboro native and graduate of Arkansas State University, Hughes is enjoying his time working to promote health policy throughout the state. "I want to help others who are facing cancer, and health policy is my niche," says Hughes.

For more information on the American Cancer Society's advocacy initiatives or how to become a volunteer, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit