Headlines — Ms Cruise, Breast Cancer & Court Ruling

Circa 2005



Recently more than 200 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) from 30 states boarded Celebrity Cruises’ Millennium at Port Everglades for the 4th annual MSF Cruise for a Cause, an innovative educational and motivational program at sea hosted by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF).

Many brought care partners, and the 965-foot, 12-deck vessel easily accommodated canes, crutches, scooters and wheelchairs as the MS group participated in the empowering educational programs and numerous social activities.

The program’s positive impact on attendees was apparent to all, including the ship’s crew. During the trip, 500 members of Celebrity’s onboard crew were so impressed by the experience that they took up a collection for a donation toward the MSF’s future efforts.

“One hundred percent of this generous donation will be specifically earmarked for our national programs enabling individuals with MS to have a better quality of life,” stated Alan Segaloff, MSF executive director.

Multiple Sclerosis Foundation



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A California court of appeal held that brothers Michael and Samuel Heath cannot be separated in a custody battle simply because Michael has autism. The Superior Court judge in the case ordered that the brothers be separated because he believed sixyear-old Michael’s autism might negatively influence four-year-old Samuel. The boys’ mother, Monica Heath, appealed the decision with the assistance of the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, a nonprofit organization based at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

The appeals court found there was no evidence to support the judge’s assumption, and the decision to separate the boys violated two central principles of California family law: first, that the sibling bond should be preserved whenever possible; and second, that disability, mental or physical, is never to be presumed as a barrier to individual rights.

“We believe nondisabled children can benefit from living with children with disabilities and vice versa,” said Carolyn Young, Litigation Attorney at the Western Law Center. “Children with and without disabilities will interact with each other throughout their lives. Building these relationships in childhood can help prevent prejudice and fear later.”

Western Law Center for Disability Rights

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The breast cancer medication Herceptin, made by Genentech Inc., is currently used to treat cancers that come back after surgery in women whose tumors overproduce the protein HER-2. Now two new federally-run studies show the addition of Herceptin to initial chemotherapy regimens for these high-risk women is also remarkably effective in preventing recurrences in the first place. The study results were so impressive that the trials were halted two years early.

JoAnne Zujewski, MD, who oversees breast cancer trials for the National Cancer Institute, commented, “This is the most remarkable result I have seen from a single intervention.”

Oncologist Edith A. Perez, MD, who led one of the two research teams, said the findings should immediately change clinical practice for women with HER-2 positive cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes. For women with breast cancer that has not spread, however, it is not yet clear if the benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks, which include an increased chance of heart damage.

About 211,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States, and 20 to 30 percent of these women have HER-2 positive tumors. At the fouryear follow-up of the latest studies, 85 percent of the women treated with Herceptin and chemotherapy were alive with no breast cancer recurrence, compared to 67 percent of women treated with chemotherapy alone.

University of Kentucky professor of oncology Edward Romond, MD, who led the second study, noted, “For women with this type of aggressive breast cancer, the addition of [Herceptin] to chemotherapy appeared to virtually reverse prognosis from unfavorable to good.”

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