Friday Frontline: June 14, 2019


From the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to the untimely passing of an inspirational Olympic runner, here’s what is making headlines in the cancer space this week.

A U.S. Senate resolution was passed this week by unanimous consent, designating July 17, 2019 as national "Glioblastoma (GBM) Awareness Day.” The resolution was a bipartisan effort with Senator Lindsey Graham as lead sponsor.

Cindy Hensley McCain, widow of the late Senator John McCain who passed away from GBM, voiced her support for the resolution in a letter to Senator Graham expressing her "personal support" and gratitude for creating this opportunity to raise awareness for GBM. “Public awareness plays a major role in our struggle against any disease,” wrote McCain.

The resolution is meant to increase public awareness of GBM and honor the individuals who have died from or are currently fighting the disease, such as McCain and Ted Kennedy. The resolution also supports efforts to develop better treatment options and to improve long-term outcomes for patients with GBM. Glioblastoma Awareness Day extends its support to any individuals who have brain tumors, including their families and caregivers.

United States Olympic runner, Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald, has passed away at age 32 after a ten-year battle with adenoid cystic carcinoma. A rare form of cancer in the saliva glands, Grunewald received the diagnosis in 2009 while running for the University of Minnesota. Among her professional accomplishments, she ran in the Olympic trials coming in fourth in 2012, and just a year later, became the 11th-fastest female 1,500-meter runner in American history with a time of 4 minutes 1.48 seconds.

Grunewald inspired many by continuing to run through three more bouts of cancer and numerous treatments. She went on to found Brave Like Gabe to raise awareness and to support the research of rare forms of cancer. She encouraged others who were fighting the disease to share their stories using the hashtag, #MyBraveStory. Grunewald’s husband, Justin, said his wife's goal was to make sure people with cancer have access to better treatment options, adding that she wanted other patients with cancer "to tackle it head-on while doing what they are passionate about. She wanted people not to lose focus on what was important to them when life got hard.”

Photo via @enews Instagram.

A House panel advanced a bill that would grant additional funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund until 2090. The bill will now go to the floor for consideration by the entire House.

Former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart testified Tuesday at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to call for the reauthorization of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund — from which the previously-approved $7.4 billion had nearly run out, potentially forcing administrators to cut payouts.

“Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: Time,” Stewart said to Congress. “This hearing should be flipped. These men and women should be up on that stage and Congress should be down here answering their questions.”

Amy S. Foster, author (The Rift Coda), songwriter and daughter of producer David Foster, announced on her Instagram that she has received a diagnosis of breast cancer. She has decided to remain positive despite the bad news.

“I flunked my mammogram recently. I felt a lump and got it checked and yep... breast cancer,” Foster wrote on Instagram. “The great news is that I caught it early and although I am getting a mastectomy — I don’t need chemo. In other words, I feel so lucky and grateful for this diagnosis which could have easily been so much worse if I had waited. So... if you are a lady out there and you feel something in your boob — go get a mammogram. KNOWING IS BETTER... even if it’s the worst news you can hear. I will leave you with the mantra that so many women revert back to in order to minimize how they are feeling — but in my case, it really is the truth...I’m fine.”

Photo via @amyfosterhere Instagram.

A California jury decided this week that Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive talcum products caused a woman’s terminal mesothelioma, granting Patricia Schmitz $12 million in damages. The Alameda County Superior Court jury resolved that three products — Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Shower to Shower products and Colgate’s Cashmere Bouquet — likely contained asbestos that caused Schmitz’s mesothelioma.

The jury concurred that the companies knew about the presence of asbestos in their products and failed to warn consumers. The companies were found guilty of negligence, while the jury could not agree if they acted with “malice, oppression or fraud,” which would entitle Schmitz to punitive damages, according to Law360.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement shared with PEOPLE that they plan to appeal. While five other recent cases found the company was not responsible for the plaintiff’s cancer, Schmitz’s case is the fourth lawsuit against the company to rule in favor of the plaintiff over the last few months.

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