Thursday, October 30, 2008

Event for Recurrent Breast Cancer Research: November 8

Please read the following press release and, if you can, attend the event on November 8 or make a donation:


“Miracles Happen” benefit to raise funds for Recurrent Breast Cancer
Research fund started in honor of cancer patient Diana Hyland of Shaker Heights

Cleveland, Ohio; October 23, 2008 – Miracles Happen, a new benefit to raise funds for recurrent breast cancer research, will be held Saturday, November 8 at Shaker Heights Country Club, 3300 Courtland Boulevard in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

The Diana Hyland Miracle Fund has been established with the mission to advance research for recurrent breast cancer -- focusing on new theories, trials and treatments aimed at managing the cancer and extending lives. University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center is focused on becoming a leader in recurrent breast cancer research. Ongoing research will ensure that Ireland’s physicians and scientists can continue to develop tomorrow’s innovative therapies.

Ned Hyland of Shaker Heights, said, “We have created this fund and benefit in honor of my wife, Diana, who, after recovering from her first bout with breast cancer 10 years ago, is again battling the devastating disease. Our two children, along with our many friends and relatives, have been very supportive throughout Diana’s illness, however, we feel the need to do more. Our goal this year is to raise $1 million to partially establish an Endowed Chair in Metastatic Breast Cancer Research for Dr. Paula Silverman.”

Diana’s doctor, Paula Silverman, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Director, Breast Cancer Program and Ambulatory Services, Ireland Cancer Center, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, will make brief remarks at the benefit.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m., the night of celebration includes dancing, a silent auction and a gourmet menu designed by: Michael Symon, Iron Chef America and Owner of Lola and Lolita; Paul Minnillo, Owner of Baricelli Inn; and Michael Klocinksi, Head Chef at Shaker Heights Country Club. This will be the first of many events aimed at spreading awareness and raising funds for this critical research at University Hospitals.

Some of the latest statistics and facts state:
ß In 2008, approximately 40,480 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S.
ß Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.
ß New research will potentially give hope to hundreds of thousands of women that are affected by this disease.

Tickets are $125 per person. Sponsorships are also available. Cocktail attire is suggested. For tickets or more information, contact Kate Werner at 440-995-4229 or visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Patton; Phone: 216-321-6746; E-mail:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Respect for Women? Really?

Today, in the Wall Street Journal, Catherine MacKinnon, professor of law at The University of Michigan, wrote a column about the ever-increasing need for women to be treated equally in legal and social matters. There is something else that women deserve and I fear are quickly losing: respect.

Clearly, some folks think that equality means you can speak to a woman with the same vulgar words you might reserve for a drunken guy trying to strike up a fight in a bar. Take, for example, the comment Jon Stewart had for vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

According to the Weekly Standard, "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart spoke before a college audience in Boston, and at one point reflected on Sarah Palin's comment that small towns are "pro-America."

"She said that small towns, that's the part of the country she really likes going to because that's the pro-America part of the country," Stewart told the crowd, then he added: "You know, I just want to say to her, just very quickly: [expletive] you."

There was a time not all that long ago that if a man said such words to a woman--to her face or behind her back--he would be ridiculed and probably punched in the face by another guy. Today, however, trashing a woman who does not reflect your personal views is not only okay, it's expected and applauded.

There was also a time when a "working mom" would be saluted, especially one who embraced life, including that of a child with special needs. Now, it seems, those aren't respectable traits at all.

I am a lifelong Democrat who is quickly moving into the Independent category. I do not agree with everything the Republicans stand for, but I am embarrassed by the way many Democrat supporters have been acting toward Palin. You don't have to be in accord with all her policies, but do you have to completely rip the woman apart, politically and personally?

A few weeks ago, someone sent me a column by Roger Ebert, in which he expressed rage over McCain not looking Obama in the eye during one of their debates. "Obama is my guy," Ebert wrote. "If you are rude to him, you are rude to me." Fair enough.

I don't know if Palin is "my woman" (what does that exactly mean, anyway?), but I have oodles of respect for her and her refusal to cave into others when it comes to her political positions. If you disrespect her, you disrespect all women, including me. Someone should wash out Jon Stewart's mouth with soap, probably his mother.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pro-Life? Yes, I Am.

The other day, I revealed something to a good friend that I'm sure made her fall off her chair. She was expressing her concern that McCain, if elected president, would select Supreme Court judges who would make it possible to overturn Roe v. Wade. (For the record, I think McCain is far too moderate to do that.) I was kind of quiet, and then my friend said, "You're pro choice, aren't you?" To which I answered, "No...I'm not."

She let out the biggest gasp I've ever heard. "But I always thought you were." After that, we had a very civil 15-minute conversation about the subject before returning to less controversial issues.

After we got off the phone, I was ashamed of myself. Ashamed because I have known this person for 22 years, and I've never revealed my belief to her. I had to wonder: How many other of my family and friends assume I'm pro-choice? And what was keeping me from sharing with them something in which I so strongly believe?

I'm assuming there are others out there like me: Silent folks who hold a pro-life stance deep in their hearts but don't utter it in too many conversations. What exactly is our problem?

After a lot of soul searching, I've come up with some reasons why many pro-lifers keep their opinions to themselves. Some I can definitely relate to, others I can't, but I think they're all relevant:

1.You Don't Want to Offend Anyone. As Rodney King said, "Can't we all just get along?" And since we want to get along with everyone and respect everyone's opinions, we don't want to offend anyone with our own. But when we do this, we run the risk of allowing ourselves to be offended. Is it fair to yourself or others if you sit there in silence? Why carry a heavy heart just so others won't have one?

2.You Don't Want to be Seen as 'Anti-Feminist.' This one has always been surprising to me. By supporting the greatest privilege and gift a woman has--the ability to give life--you are somehow being anit-feminist? Some argue that you want to deny a woman control over her body? Actually, she has the greatest control before she gets pregnant!

3. You'll be Labeled a Religious Fanatic. Heaven forbid someone thinks that your belief is based on your faith! Keep in mind, though, that saying "It's against my religion" is not enough of a reason to be pro-life. Why does your religion oppose abortion? Do you agree with the reasoning and not just the declaration?

4. You'll Have to Get Into the Sticky Topic of Under What Circumstances, if Any, Abortion Should be Allowable. This is indeed a sticky situation. Do you believe it's okay in cases of incest or rape or when there is a potential threat to the health of the mother? Again, you have to have some basis for your argument, and you have to be sympathetic to the rare but nevertheless very real circumstances in which some women find themselves.

5. You're Afraid You'll Lose Friends or Family Members Who Disagree With You. What if you say something about being pro-life and your friend doesn't want to talk to you anymore? But your friend is pro-choice, and you haven't abandoned her, right?

I have known all along that many of my friends are pro-choice. That hasn't stopped me from being friends with them. I wouldn't expect anything less from them.

The shame is that if I had vocalized my opinion, we might have had a meaningful discussion about life and abortion.

It's not too late. After my friend got over the shock that I was pro-life, we talked a lot about both sides of the controversy. And we actually found common ground. We concluded that with all the talk that goes on about abortion, not enough is being said about how to avoid the situation in the first place. Maybe when opposing sides come together in a humane and dignified way, they can find common ground about how to solve a problem. But that can't happen unless we overcome our fear and speak up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Orphan" Diseases Find Hope Through Adopted "Families"

Being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease must be one of the most traumatic events in a person's life. The reassurance that research is continually finding new ways to control or cure this disease can ease feelings of sadness and uncertainty.

Imagine, then, learning that you have an "orphan disease," one that is rare and receives little direct funding for research. What is known about this disease? Is it brought on by environmental or internal conditions? How is it best treated? Is there a cure?

Aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) are orphan diseases. They are noncontagious, life-threatening illnesses together known as bone marrow diseases. Within a body's bone marrow, blood-forming stem cells produce red and white blood cells and platelets. When production is disturbed, problems can occur, such as severe anemia, infections and the inability for blood to properly clot.

If you aren't familiar with the names of the particular bone marrow diseases, it is probably because they are very rare. Approximately four new cases of aplastic anemia per one million people in the United States arise each year, for example. Nevertheless, you probably have heard of some of the people who have fallen victim to a bone marrow disease: According to the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation, former Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, former Congressman Robert Matsui of California and writer Susan Sontag all died from complications related to MDS.

The only known "cure" for a bone marrow disease is a bone marrow transplant, but a patient must find a suitable donor. Even then, the body's system can choose to reject the transplant, causing further complications.

It's no wonder that many people with bone marrow diseases express frustration. Writer Mark Schreiber described his personal struggles in a January 2008 issue of Newsweek. "During my first trip to the oncology ward--oncology because there are no wards for aplastic anemia--four successive roommates, all leukemia patients, returned to their lives after receiving treatment while I stayed and reflected on mine...When you're an orphan you envy people with families, even such horrific families as cancer."

In the midst of Schreiber's grief over being diagnosed with an orphan disease, he found a father figure of sorts: Dr. Jaroslaw Maciejewski, a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic. The Polish-born Dr. Maciejewski (pronounced ma-SHEFF-ski) is head of the Experimental Hematology and Hematopoiesis Section of the Clinic's Taussig Cancer Center, and his specialty interests revolve around bone marrow failure syndromes such as aplastic anemia, MDS and PNH.

Dr. Maciejewski is currently working on a study to investigate the viral causes of aplastic anemia.There is a great deal of evidence that at least a proportion of cases of aplastic anemia can be triggered by a virus that is as of yet unknown. In this study, bone marrow failure researchers will use a "viral chip" containing little pieces of DNA to identify a virus responsible for aplastic anemia and ultimately develop diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive measures.

The results of the study could prove beneficial to a variety of diseases, according to the doctor. "This could have a tremendous impact...on the improvement of care across the board of all [bone marrow failure] diseases," he says.

While the study brings hope to people like Schreiber, Dr. Maciejewski cautions that results may not be immediate. "Science is all about delayed gratification," he says. "The value could be quickly obtained, but it could result in a scientific lead that needs to be followed for years."

Those affected by bone marrow diseases understand what the doctor is saying; they also know that this study provides a great opportunity to get out of the "orphan" stage and determine real ways to fight the illnesses.

Two people who passionately believe in Dr. Maciejewski's work are Jeff and Sherri Kitzberger of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Their youngest daughter, Annalyse, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and PNH when she was five years old. She endured chemo and missed out on most of her kindergarten year.

Three years later, Annalyse acts like your average eight year old. She plays soccer, sells Girl Scout cookies and dreams of some day owning a dog. But the aplastic anemia and PNH that dragged down her immune system when she was five could rear their ugly heads again without warning. Every bruise or bump on Annalyse's body, every sore throat or persistent cough is a cause for concern for the Kitzbergers. With the help of Dr. Maciejewski and other doctors at the Clinic, the Kitzbergers feel less like "orphans" and more like part of a family of caring practitioners.

To lend support to the viral chip study, and raise awareness of bone marrow diseases, the Kitzbergers created Jungle Jam, a benefit taking place Friday, October 17 at Cleveland House of Blues. Five local bands will play: Blues de Ville, Eclyptic, Heart and Soul, Horizontal Party and Rusnak Jarrett Jazz. There will be an auction, hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Proceeds from Jungle Jam will go directly to Dr. Maciejewski's viral chip study.

In creating this benefit, the Kitzbergers have embraced all people diagnosed with bone marrow diseases, thus expanding the network of care, compassion and education. In their way, the Kitzbergers are helping to remove the "orphan" stigma from these diseases, with the hopes of someday completely wiping them off the map.

You have an opportunity to be part of the "adoptive family" for those with bone marrow diseases. Tickets for Jungle Jam are still on sale. You can also make a donation. For information, call Sherri Kitzberger at 216.312.3109, or visit