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Press Release

The CML Society Marks CML Awareness Day with Stepping Stone Ceremonies

Canada NewsWire

MONTREAL, Sept. 22, 2011 /CNW/ - CML Awareness Day is being marked today, September 22, to celebrate the significant progress new treatments have made in controlling a rare form of blood cancer, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

Today's special activities include a presentation of a stepping stone by The CML Society of Canada to several pharmaceutical companies which have participated in CML research and clinical trials, yielding significant life prolonging benefits to CML patients around the world.

The symbolism of the stepping stones
The stepping stone is symbolic of the physical steps patients must follow on their path to conquer CML.  "We must not abdicate our responsibilities as patients to advocate for ourselves and be engaged through educating ourselves about CML, by participating in clinical trials and partnering with our physicians, government and industry," says Cheryl-Anne Simoneau, President of the CML Society of Canada.

"Novartis Oncology Canada is delighted to accept the gift of the stepping stone as it underscores our commitment to stay on the path towards finding better treatments and supporting initiatives that may lead to an eventual cure for CML," says Alain Dostie, Oncology General Manager from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.

Alain Boisvert, VP, Market Access from Bristol-Myers Squibb says, "The stepping stone will be prominently displayed at our headquarters here in Montreal as a visual reminder to all of our employees of our shared goals and objectives for finding new treatments for CML."

"We are pleased to contribute financial support for research towards finding new treatments to control CML and also be joining our colleagues from Novartis Oncology and Bristol-Myers Squibb in this important effort," says Richard Fajzel, General Manager at Pfizer Oncology.

A stepping stone will also be presented to Joy Smith, MP Kildonan-St. Paul and Chair - Standing Committee on Health in the House of Commons in Ottawa.  On September 22, 2008, The CML Society of Canada initiated CML Awareness Day and met with Smith. In 2010, Smith publicly acknowledged the work of The CML Society of Canada in the House of Commons - a video clip of the historic occasion is viewable at

Reflecting on significant cancer research
In 1959, scientists Peter Nowell and David Hungerford were analyzing blood samples from CML patients and discovered an abnormal chromosome in all of the specimens.  By 1973, Dr. Janet Rowley, an MD and researcher, discovered the abnormal chromosome was the result of an exchange of genetic material between chromosomes 9 and 22.  Further research eventually led to targeted therapies such as Gleevec™, Sprycel™ and Tasigna™ which control and, in many cases, took CML from a deadly disease to a chronic, yet manageable illness.

The date of September 22 (09/22) represents the significance of the chromosomal discovery and the harbinger of CML.

The CML Society of Canada, a not-for-profit patient education and support organization, is cautioning that much more remains to be done.  "We are so close to possibly curing this disease; we need this victory to carry over to all cancers.  We believe that equitable access to essential drugs is a fundamental right for all Canadians and we must ensure that all patients' voices are heard," says Simoneau.

About CML
CML is one of four types of leukemia, cancer of the blood and bone marrow.  The disease is driven by a chromosomal abnormality, which is acquired after birth and causes an overproduction of white blood cells.

A routine blood test is the first step in diagnosing and staging of the disease.  Newer targeted therapies are directed to the specific enzymes that in turn controls the over proliferation of cancerous cells. The majority of patients with CML achieve a high level of remission that is maintained with continued therapy and close monitoring.

About the CML Society of Canada
Established in 2006, the CML Society provides support, education and information on CML, current and emerging treatments and research initiatives for people living with CML and their families. Through these efforts and ongoing advocacy, the CML Society advances its mission to help reduce suffering and improve care and the quality of life of CML patients. For more information, please refer to

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