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Eat, Drink and Help a Baby

Being charitable never tasted so good as at the 2003 Gourmet Gala Nov. 16 to benefit the March of Dimes' efforts to prevent birth defects and infant mortality.

The event, which starts at 6 p.m. at the Marriott Hotel New Orleans, will feature cuisine from some of the city's best chefs, a silent auction by local celebrities, music by Paul Varisco and the Milestones and more. Dr. Juan and Ana Gershanik also will be honored during the event for their support of the March of Dimes.

Tickets are $125 per person and proceeds will be used by the March of Dimes to further its community service, advocacy, research and education programs. For tickets and information, call 522-0865.

New Hope for Prostate Cancer Patients

Patients with advanced prostate cancer that is not responding to hormonal therapy may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial at Tulane University to evaluate a new treatment.

The study, called ASCENT, will combine use of DN-101 -- a new formulation of the naturally occurring hormone calcitriol and a form of Vitamin D -- in combination with the chemotherapy drug Taxotere. DN-101 is a once-a-week oral medication that is expected to boost calcitriol, which is needed to enhance the effects of chemotherapy. Taxotere inhibits cancer cell division. To be accepted for the clinical trial, patients cannot have had prior chemotherapy treatment.

Tulane is among 60 medical centers in the United States and Canada that are participating in ASCENT in an effort to find a treatment that will prolong the lives of patients with advanced prostate cancer. For more information, call 585-6121 or peruse Tulane Cancer Center's Web site: www.som.tulane.edu/cancer/protocols.

The American Cancer Society says 189,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the United States each year, and about 30,200 die from the disease annually.

Grants Should Improve Services

A federal agency has issued a grant of $9.5 million to the Department of Health and Hospital's (DHH) Office of Mental Health (OMH) to improve mental health services for children in New Orleans and four nearby parishes.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHA) granted the funds to help the OMH increase the number of children who receive community-based services in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes. The money also will help officials provide a wider variety of mental health services to children, and will be instrumental in developing intensive day treatment services, enhanced respite services, therapeutic foster care and transitional services for young people between 18 and 22 years old.

SAMHA also granted $3.4 million to Louisiana to develop a coordination of services for people who suffer both substance abuse and mental health disorders. The DHH will use that money to expand statewide an integrated treatment service piloted in Lake Charles and to develop partnerships with community-based mental health and substance abuse groups.

The federal agency also will give the state a $464,184 grant to promote community living through support services for people with disabilities who now are forced to be cared for in an institution.

A New Resource

The Lighthouse for the Blind has opened Magnifiers and More (123 State St., 899-4501), a store that features aids for the seeing impaired, including talking watches and thermometers, large-print books, specially adapted games, special safety kitchen knives, talking calculators, sunglasses, home lighting, magnifiers and clocks and telephones with large numbers.

The store, which opened Oct. 20, initially will serve customers from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and later may be open on Saturday.

A Race With Teeth

The New Orleans Dental Hygienists' Association and Greater New Orleans Running Association are sponsoring a Molarthon at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 22 to benefit area children.

The Molarthon features a 5K and 1-mile fun run that start at the Magazine Street entrance to Audubon Park. Entertainment and refreshments will be available.

Registration is $15 until Nov. 14 and $17 after that date, and includes an event T-shirt. Proceeds will benefit A Child's Wish of Greater New Orleans. For more information, call 891-9999.

See Clearly Now

St. Charles Vision (3200 Severn Ave., Metairie, 887-2020) has teamed up with Vision USA to provide free, comprehensive eye exams to workers and their families in the New Orleans area who can't afford the services but don't qualify for government aid or health-care assistance. In some cases, eyewear may also be provided at little or no cost.

Applications for the services will be accepted year round. To quality, applicants must be part of a household with at least one person working full or part time, fall within an established income level, have no insurance that covers eye exams and cannot have had an eye exam within the past two years. For more information, call St. Charles Vision's Dr. Ivan Bank at 887-2020, contact the national organization at (800) 766-4466, or log onto www.aoa.org/visionusa.

Vision USA is a national, charitable program developed in 1991 by optometrists who are members of the American Optometric Association.

Learn and Live

Hammond-based Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault (LaFASA) has scheduled a three-day conference for a range of professionals who deal with preventing sexual assault, prosecuting then treating the offenders and helping victims to recover.

The conference -- "Where is the Outrage?" -- starts at 10 a.m. Dec. 3 and ends at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the Holiday Inn South (9940 Airline Hwy., Baton Rouge). The cost is $175 in advance ($125 LaFASA members and $75 for full-time students), or $195 at the conference site. Single-day admission is $75. LaFASA will raffle a four-day cruise to Cozumel the last day of the meeting.

Continuing education hours are available to attorneys, nurses, social workers and licensed counselors who attend. Others who might find the conference helpful are law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, emergency medical personnel, crime lab workers, child and adult protection service workers, therapists, probation and parole officers, and others.

Some of the issues covered at the conference include Internet sexual exploitation, methods of prosecuting sex crimes, developing response teams, dealing with sexual assault issues on college campuses, forensic interviews, sexual assault of the elderly, supervising sex offenders, prevention and more.

Avoid the Flu

If you haven't already gotten a flu vaccination, it's time to visit your physician for a preventative shot. Health officials recommend that the elderly and others at high risk for complications from the flu receive the immunization this month. Others should seek a flu shot by the end of December. The flu season extends through March

The Centers for Disease Control reports that as many as 33,000 people die in the United States each year from pneumonia and influenza, 90 percent of them over the age of 65.

Shots are free to people on Medicare, and most others will be charged $10 to $20.

A Brunch for Survivors

East Jefferson General Hospital (4200 Houma Blvd., Metairie; www.eastjeffhospital.com) has scheduled a free Cancer Survivor's Brunch from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 15 at the hospital's conference center. The event will feature speakers, door prizes and an opportunity to speak with other survivors.

The event is free and open to anyone who has survived cancer or is living with the disease, but seating is limited. Call 456-5000 for reservations.

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