Health news

Posted May 18, 2009, at 3:05 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:38 a.m.

Honor for ALS efforts

BANGOR – For nearly two years, the Kingsbury family of Bangor has fought a steadfast battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuro-degenerative muscular disease.

Due to Jim Kingsbury’s fight with ALS, the former chef and kitchen manager at the Whig & Courier Restaurant and his wife and caregiver, Lisa, have worked with the ALS Association Northern New England Chapter in fundraising and educating the public about the devastating disease.

Commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS usually has a survival rate of two to five years after a diagnosis.

The Northern New England Chapter has proclaimed the Kingsburys the family that best exemplifies the spirit of ALS Across America during ALS Awareness Month in May.

The ALS Across America national campaign recognizes courageous individuals with ALS and their caregivers who are role models to those with Lou Gehrig’s disease. These special individuals reflect the spirit of the organization as they make a positive difference in their community by expanding awareness of ALS and embodying the spirit of living life to the fullest.

“The Kingsburys are tremendously committed to helping build awareness and raise funds in the fight against ALS,” said Kathleen Phillips, the chapter’s executive director.

Kingsbury, 47, received the diagnosis in July 2007, although he began experiencing symptoms of the disease, including stiffness in his right hand, on May 19, 2006, the day his and Lisa’s son Jack was born. Kingsbury left his job in April 2008 due to the impact ALS has had on his body.

Last year, Lisa Kingsbury, 43, organized the chapter’s first Walk to Defeat ALS in Bangor, an event that raised more than $25,000. She will coordinate the 2009 walk in Bangor. Aside from caring for her husband, she works full time as an administrative assistant at Eastern Maine Healthcare System, cares for Jack, is mother to her and Jim’s children from previous marriages, and is working on a master’s degree in public health online through Walden University.

Of their work with the association’s Northern New England Chapter, Phillips terms the couple’s involvement “unwavering.”

During May, the association and its nationwide network of 42 chapters will reach out to communities across the country to educate the public about Lou Gehrig’s disease and urge people to join the association in the fight to make ALS a disease of the past.

The association’s National ALS Advocacy Day and Public Policy Conference, which has grown to be the single largest gathering of the ALS community and is part of ALS Awareness Month, will be held May 10-12 in Washington, D.C.

Last year, the Kingsburys accompanied chapter employees to the national conference. This year, Lisa plans to become more involved with advocacy and patient services-related activities with the chapter.

AIDS Walk on May 2

BANGOR – Walk to support. Walk to remember. Walk for the future.

The Eastern Maine AIDS Network will sponsor the Bangor area route of AIDS Walk Weekend 2009 at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 2.

Organized by Maine Community AIDS Partnership, walks will take place across the state and in Portsmouth, N.H., the weekend of May 2-3. Funds raised will be matched by the National AIDS Fund, and all money will go to local HIV-AIDS service organizations.

The 5k walk, 3.1 miles, begins and ends in front of the Eastern Maine AIDS Network office at 370 Harlow St. The route goes across the State Street bridge to Main Street, to Brewer, back across the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, and through downtown Bangor. Registration begins at 10 a.m., with the walk at 11 a.m.

Volunteers are needed to help set up, direct participants to the parking areas and act as crossing guards at intersections along the route. Donations also are accepted.

To register online and create a fundraising page, visit www.aidswalkweekend.com/bangor.htm. Registration forms also are available at the EMAN office or on the morning of the walk. There is no fee to participate and pledges are optional, but highly encouraged.

For information about AIDS Walk Weekend 2009, visit www.aidswalkweekend.com/bangor.htm, call Joy Sinclair at 990-3626 or e-mail joy@maineaidsnetwork.com.

May baskets for sale

A group of women spent the better part of April making more than 100 May baskets to raise funds for programs at Hammond Street Senior Center.

The custom of making May baskets filled with sweets for one’s sweetheart is a fond memory for many Senior Center members.

The baskets are filled with homemade fudge, also made by member volunteers, and sell for $2.25 for the small origami paper baskets and $5 for the larger, elaborate baskets.

The public is welcome to stop in 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. April 30 and May 1 at Hammond Street Senior Center to purchase May baskets.

March for Babies

The March of Dimes is investing more than $443,000 in research and programs in Maine in 2009. Scientists are working to improve the health of babies by seeking the cause or treatment for genetic and environmental determinants of preterm birth.

Funds raised by the March for Babies on May 3 throughout Maine will support research at The Jackson Laboratory.

“Helping babies be born healthy is vital to the hope and future of Maine,” said Susan Braziel, state director of the March of Dimes. “One day, all babies will be born healthy, but we’re going to have to walk to get there.”

The most urgent infant health problem in the United States today is premature birth, which affects more than a half- million babies each year.

The March of Dimes issued a Report Card on Premature Birth, giving the nation a D and Maine a C. Babies born too soon are more likely to die or have disabilities.

The funds will allow the March of Dimes to fund educational programs for health care providers and direct services for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

Participation in March for Babies will provide a memorable and rewarding day for the family.

“The walk is an opportunity to teach children the value of volunteering – how their gifts of time, energy and money, no matter the size, can have a big impact when they’re part of supporting a worthy cause,” said Braziel. “In order for the March of Dimes to continue to support all the efforts in Maine, the need for families of all sizes and ages to participate in March for Babies is more important than ever this year. We know Maine families care about helping babies.”

National March for Babies sponsors are Kmart, the March of Dimes No. 1 corporate supporter; CIGNA, Continental Airlines, Famous Footwear, Farmers Insurance Group of Companies, FedEx, First Response, Liberty Tax Services, Mead Johnson Nutrition and Ther-Rx. In Maine, March for Babies is sponsored by TD Banknorth, Hannaford and New Balance Foundation.

To sign up as an individual, to start a corporate, family or friends team or to make a donation, visit marchforbabies.org or call 800-525-9255. Participants also may pick up sponsor forms at Kmart.

Living with Cancer

AUGUSTA – The 31st American Cancer Society Living With Cancer Conference is being held 7:45 a.m.-3:45 p.m. Wednesday, May 6, at the Augusta Civic Center.

Cancer patients, family members, friends and medical professionals are invited to attend. The theme is, “Teams and Tools for Navigating Your Cancer Journey.”

Keynote speaker and three-time cancer survivor Joyce Kulhawik is the former arts and entertainment critic for WBZ-TV in Boston. She has played a critical role in opening the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston.

Kulhawik accepted the 1994 Gilda Radner Award from the Wellness Community in Greater Boston for engendering inspiration in cancer patients by her own valiant fight with the disease.

Maine storyteller and humorist John McDonald will share classic stories, stretched truths and wry observations of life in the Pine Tree State.

Workshop topics include navigating the health care system, genetic risk of gynecological cancers, spirituality and financial management. Maine physicians, American Cancer Society volunteers and other specialists will give presentations, while the patient panel includes cancer survivors who will share details about their personal cancer journeys.

For a brochure or to register, call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org/lwcc.

Health information

BANGOR – Bangor-area residents are invited to attend a free wellness information session at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 6, Macy’s Court, Bangor Mall.

The gathering also will be the final check-in for those residents who have been participating in the walking for health program sponsored by Martin’s Point Health Care and the Bangor Mall. HRA results will be available for those participants.

Attendees will be eligible to win door prizes provided by Martin’s Point.

Wellness educators from Martin’s Point will discuss “Making Exercise a Habit: Learn Ways to Break Down Barriers and Reach Your Goals.” In addition, a nurse practitioner from Eastern Maine Medical Center will discuss effective meal planning and the importance of vitamin D.

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