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May 26, 2016

Telstra tasked with creating National Australian Cancer Screening Registry

Telstra tasked with creating National Australian Cancer Screening Registry

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

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Today, the Australian Government’s Department of Health awarded Telstra‘s health division a contract to create and manage a national cancer screening register to be called the Australian National Cancer Screening Register (ANCSR). This register would be digitised, with existing registers, such as the national bowel cancer register or various cervical cancer registers, being incorporated into the one.

The new register is expected to be operational around May 2017 and to involve a database which will house users’ personal medical records and do away with hard copy records. Services this registry is to provide include a portal for users to access their information, reminders for users to have screenings or follow-up on screening results via SMS, and general practitioners and medical specialists having access to patient data and records from any area of Australia from their clinical desktops.

Security of information and privacy infringement risks have been addressed by Telstra Health managing Director Shane Solomon who says upon winning the contract Telstra had to comply with strict privacy standards and security provisions. Commonwealth standards also required the medical data of users be stored in Australia.



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March 23, 2016

Former Toronto, Canada mayor Rob Ford dies after struggle with cancerous tumors

Former Toronto, Canada mayor Rob Ford dies after struggle with cancerous tumors

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Rob Ford in 2011.
Image: The City of Toronto.

Former mayor of Toronto, Canada Rob Ford died yesterday morning aged 46, following a cancerous tumor found in his abdomen in 2014 and two more in his bladder in 2015.

A statement issued by Ford’s chief of staff Dan Jacobs called Ford a “dedicated man of the people” who “spent his life serving the citizens of Toronto.”

The former mayor, whose father, a businessman, served on the Ontario Provincial Parliament, was elected mayor in 2010. Before entering office, he had served as a councillor for Ward 2 Etobicoke North, a district in Toronto. He described himself as an “ordinary guy” who wanted to show “respect for the taxpayers”, and proposed measures to reduce taxes. Ford was known for personally returning phone calls from constituents and hosting a summer barbecue every year.

As a mayor, Ford supported expanding the city’s subway system over expanding transit through cheaper means; this caused debate within the city council. Ford also implemented cost cutting measures for the taxpayer, including the abolition of a vehicle registration tax.

In 2013, Ford received global media coverage after a video apparently showing Ford smoking crack cocaine was shown to the press. This caused police to investigate Ford and discover he had links with drug dealers. In November of the same year, Ford admitted he may have smoked crack in a “drunken stupor”. Then, videos apparently showing Ford making offensive comments to minorities and women surfaced. The resulting scandal caused the Toronto City council to remove most of Ford’s powers; he wasn’t removed from office, however, due to a technicality.



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March 10, 2015

Sam Simon, \’The Simpsons\’ co-creator, dies aged 59

Sam Simon, ‘The Simpsons’ co-creator, dies aged 59

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

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Simon pictured in 2008 at the 2008 World Series of Poker
Image: Matt Waldron.

Sam Simon has died, at the age of 59, on Sunday of colon cancer, a disease he was diagnosed with in 2012. One of the co-creators of the television series The Simpsons, Simon helped create the hugely successful series in 1989 alongside Matt Groening and James L. Brooks. He left the show in 1993 after roles as writer and character developer among others.

Before The Simpsons Simon had worked on several shows in various positions. During the 1980s he worked on shows such as Taxi, Cheers, and The Tracy Ullman Show. In 1989 he helped create The Simpsons with Brooks and Groening, and was responsible for hiring the show’s first writing team. Despite leaving the show in 1993 he kept the title of executive producer, and continued to receive tens of millions of dollars every season in royalties.

After his diagnosis he began to donate his fortune to charity, estimated at around US$100 million . He donated to and was an active voice for charities focusing on animal rights including PETA. The Sam Simon Foundation, an organization he founded in 2002, released a statement to TMZ after his death: “For those of us who knew him, his voice will forever echo in our minds; his sense of humor will continue to make us laugh; and his compassion and generosity will continue to impact our lives[…] Sam, you will be missed by many, but there is a particular sadness among our clinic staff. We have been together for so long, and your absence will forever leave a void in our lives.”

Speaking to NBC in November 2014, Simon said “Cancer has been a fight, a journey, an adventure and the most amazing experience of my life.”

Simon had no children and was twice divorced. His first wife was actress Jennifer Tilly, to whom he was married from 1984 until their split in 1991. He married Playboy Playmate Jami Ferrell in 2000; the pair divorced not long after.

Current executive producer of The Simpsons, Al Jean paid tribute to Simon via Twitter, tweeting “Just heard terrible news of death of @simonsam. A great man; I owe him everything.”



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March 4, 2015

Beverly Hall, indicted public school superintendent, dies aged 68

Beverly Hall, indicted public school superintendent, dies aged 68

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Education
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Dr. Beverly Hall, a central figure in an Atlanta, Georgia public schools cheating scandal since 2009, died at the age of 68 on Monday. The cause of death was reported as breast cancer, a disease she had been suffering from since 2004. At the time of her death Hall was still facing criminal charges relating to the cheating scandal.

No official statement was released by Hall’s family or her legal team regarding the circumstances of her death however her lawyers stated that Hall maintained her innocence “to her dying breath.” Should she have been convicted of several offences, including racketeering, Hall could have been sentenced to up to 45 years imprisonment.

Current Atlanta Public School Superintendent, Meria Carstarphen commented on Hall’s death: “We offer our condolences to the family of Dr. Hall. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this difficult time.” Hall became the Atlanta Public School Superintendent in 1999. She previously held the position of Superintendent in Newark, New Jersey. During her time as Newark’s Superintendent test scores only increased mildly and the school had financial problems; Newark’s mayor, Sharpe James, criticised at the time, “[Hall] is getting out of here before you realize she hasn’t done anything.”

She gained critical acclaim during her time in Atlanta and was recognized for innovative urban education. In 2009 she was awarded the title of National Superintendent of the Year. At the time of the award, Atlanta schools had seen a large improvement on test scores. Shortly after, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a report showing problems with test results. The report showed test scores had increased implausibly fast, and alleged the school internally detected problems but didn’t act on the findings. Evidence thereafter indicated test papers were tampered with. Hall, along with 34 other education officials, was indicted in 2013.

In total twenty-one people pleaded guilty to charges relating to the cheating scandal while several others remain on trial. Hall became too ill to stand trail after the cancer spread to other parts of her body.

Hall was born in Jamaica, and later moved to the United States. She is survived by her husband and a son.



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February 8, 2015

Cancer kills Niki Quasney, Indiana gay marriage pioneer

Cancer kills Niki Quasney, Indiana gay marriage pioneer

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

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Niki Quasney, who together with wife Amy Sandler became the first married gay couple in Indiana, died of cancer on Thursday. She was 38. The death was announced today by the law firm that assisted her.

Cquote1.svg They knew that by coming forward they could help accelerate equality for all same-sex couples in Indiana by demonstrating the urgency of their need for equal dignity Cquote2.svg

—The couple’s lawyer

Indiana, US had only recognised their marriage last year after a federal judge granted their emergency request. They wed in 2013 in Massachusetts, two years after an Illinois civil union.

Quasney was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009 and sought the intervention to ensure eligibility for her daughters and wife to receive state and national assistance after her death. Also sought was a death certificate recognising her marriage.

The same judge ultimately struck down the state gay marriage ban. An appeals court in Chicago upheld the decision, as did the national Supreme Court. The case was one of a national slew following an earlier Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage.

“If my life is cut short because of ovarian cancer,” Quasney told one court “I want our children to know that their parents were treated like other married couples in their home state, and to be proud of this. I want to know what it feels like to be a legally recognized family in our community, together with Amy and our daughters.” Their lawyer Paul Castillo said today the couple “knew that by coming forward they could help accelerate equality for all same-sex couples in Indiana by demonstrating the urgency of their need for equal dignity.”



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March 3, 2014

Irish anti-smoking campaigner Gerry Collins dies at age 57

Irish anti-smoking campaigner Gerry Collins dies at age 57

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Monday, March 3, 2014

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Gerry Collins, star of Ireland’s QUIT anti-smoking ad campaign, died yesterday morning. He was 57 and had terminal lung cancer.

A woman stops to enjoy a cigarette in Venezuela.
Image: Carlos Huerta.

Cquote1.svg The reality is that I’m not an actor. I am dying. Cquote2.svg

—Gerry Collins in a QUIT ad

Collins began smoking at seventeen but had stopped by the time he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2008. He described the treatment as “horrendous” and was featured by the QUIT campaign in 2011 after defeating the illness. He was later diagnosed again with cancer, this time of the lung and terminal.

“I wish I was an actor,” he says in the two TV ads he filmed last year, “because if I was an actor I’d be acting about dying. The reality is that I’m not an actor. I am dying.”

A keen sportsman, Collins played football for Dublin and his local Kilmacud Crokes team. As well as TV, he also appeared in radio and Internet ads. The national Health Service Executive credits him with convincing 60,000 people to try to stop smoking.

The Greystones, County Wicklow resident features in two more TV ads due to air this week. In accordance with his wishes they will run as planned despite his death. His family released a statement saying they are “incredibly proud” of him and that he “loved hearing the many stories of people who had quit after seeing his ads or hearing his interviews.”



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February 8, 2012

Komen executive resigns and criticizes Planned Parenthood

Komen executive resigns and criticizes Planned Parenthood

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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Karen Handel, who was vice president of public policy for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, resigned yesterday, one week after the organization took flak for its decision not to fund Planned Parenthood. At her announcement, Handel criticized Planned Parenthood for leading an “orchestrated, clearly pre-meditated attack on Komen.”

Karen Handel in 2010 while she was Secretary of State in Georgia.
Image: MMAFightFan.

The Komen Foundation is known for raising awareness of breast cancer and for its funding of breast cancer screening.

Handel was a former Republican candidate for governor in the state of Georgia where she took a pro-life stance, but she lost the primary race to current Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who took office in 2011. Unlike others at Komen, Handel said the organization faced pressure from groups that were against abortion to do something about its funding to Planned Parenthood.

Cquote1.svg I have known Karen for many years, and we both share a common commitment to our organization’s lifelong mission, which must always remain our sole focus. Cquote2.svg

Nancy Brinker

She said Komen’s process for creating a policy that allowed the foundation to decline funding for any organization that was under investigation, even if it was not a criminal investigation, was a “thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision … that has unfortunately been turned into something about politics.” Handel said while the guidelines behind the split were created before she had obtained her position at Komen, she was one person in the group who decided to apply them to Planned Parenthood and halt Komen’s funding.

In her statement, Handel said she was “deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it.”

Handel declined a severance package from Komen.

Nancy Brinker, who is Komen’s chief executive and founder, admitted the foundation made mistakes in handling the Planned Parenthood decision last week. “I accepted the resignation of Karen Handel,” Brinker said. “I have known Karen for many years, and we both share a common commitment to our organization’s lifelong mission, which must always remain our sole focus. I wish her the best in future endeavors.”

While the Komen Foundation has since reinstated its funding of Planned Parenthood, several other board members have also resigned since the controversy began.



Related news

  • “Susan G. Komen Foundation reneges on Planned Parenthood funding cuts” — Wikinews, February 4, 2012
  • “Susan G. Komen Foundation stops funding to Planned Parenthood” — Wikinews, February 2, 2012

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February 4, 2012

Susan G. Komen Foundation reneges on Planned Parenthood funding cuts

Susan G. Komen Foundation reneges on Planned Parenthood funding cuts

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

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Susan G. Komen for the Cure has announced it will continue to fund breast cancer screening and educational programming on breast health run by fellow US-charity Planned Parenthood and its affiliates. This news comes shortly after Komen announced it would cut funding to Planned Parenthood due to an ongoing investigation.

Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker in 2009
Image: Cliff.

Komen has changed its internal criteria for grant funding. Previously, it would not support any organization under investigation of any kind; now it says it will only cut support if the investigation involved is “criminal and conclusive”. The old criteria disqualified Planned Parenthood because it was under investigation by United States House Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Representative Cliff Stearns.

In a statement on Komen’s website, the Board of Directors and founder Nancy G. Brinker wrote, “We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives. The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.”

Planned Parenthood said in response to the restoration of Komen’s funding, it was “enormously grateful”.

Since the cuts were announced, Planned Parenthood gained $3 million (€2.3m, £1.9m) in donations and 10,000 new Facebook likes. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg personally pledged $250,000 (€190k, £158k). 26 US Senators signed a public letter to the charity; in it they said, “It would be tragic if any woman — let alone thousands of women — lost access to these potentially lifesaving screenings because of a politically motivated attack.”



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“Susan G. Komen Foundation stops funding to Planned Parenthood” — Wikinews, February 2, 2012

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February 2, 2012

Susan G. Komen Foundation stops funding to Planned Parenthood

Susan G. Komen Foundation stops funding to Planned Parenthood

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

US Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III completes crosses the finish line of the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Susan G. Komen for the Cure has stopped funding breast cancer screening and educational programming on breast health run by fellow US-charity Planned Parenthood and its affiliates. The Komen institute cites an ongoing investigation, while Planned Parenthood blame political pressures.

Planned Parenthood received nearly $700,000 from the Komen Foundation last year alone. In the last five years, the funding from the foundation has granted 170,000 women breast exams.

Leslie Aun, a spokesperson for the Komen Foundation, said the organization adopted a new rule that does not allow grants or funding to be awarded to organizations that are under legal investigation. Komen’s policy disqualified Planned Parenthood due to a pending investigation on how Planned Parenthood spends and reports its money that is being conducted by Representative Cliff Stearns. Stearns is investigating whether taxes are used to fund abortions through Planned Parenthood in his role as chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, which is under the umbrella of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a longstanding partner like Planned Parenthood, we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission,” Aun said.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said, “While this is deeply disturbing and disappointing, we want to assure women who rely on Planned Parenthood for breast care that we’re still here for them, and we always will be. The new fund we’re launching to support these services will ensure that the Komen Foundation’s decision doesn’t jeopardize women’s health.”


 
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See Susan G. Komen Foundation reneges on Planned Parenthood funding cuts, February 4, 2012
 

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August 12, 2011

Scientists use gene therapy, patients\’ own immune systems to fight leukemia

Scientists use gene therapy, patients’ own immune systems to fight leukemia

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Friday, August 12, 2011

T cells (right) are responsible for ridding the body of foreign pathogens.
Image: National Cancer Institute.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a new treatment for a type of leukemia (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) that uses a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. Scientists extracted the blood from three male patients, all of whom suffered from advanced leukemia. They inserted a gene into the patients’ T-cells (the cells normally responsible for ridding the body of foreign pathogens such as viruses), and the gene reprograms the cells to actively seek out and kill cancer cells within the blood. They then returned the modified blood to the patients.

The patients initially reported symptoms similar to those of a bad case of the flu, but the researchers pointed out that this was likely due to the body’s response to rapid cancer cell death all at once. However, once the symptoms subsided, the scientists found that two of the three patients had no signs of leukemia and the third, while still sick, showed significant improvement. Additionally, they discovered that the modified T-cells not only killed existing cancer cells, but brand new ones as well.

Though optimistic, experts say that more research needs to be done to determine if this will be a viable treatment on a large scale and warn that this therapy would not be available as an approved treatment for several more years.



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