Professional Dancer Recounts Breast Cancer Diagnosis at Age 26

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Olivia Hutcherson’s life as a professional dancer in New York City took an unprecedented turn on the night of her 26th birthday in 2015.

Hutcherson, now 27, saw blood on the inside of her blouse at the end of the night.

“The following day, I went into the doctor's office and they told me that it was nothing to worry about but I felt like something was wrong,” Hutcherson told ABC News’ Amy Robach in an interview that aired Friday on Good Morning America. “I went back to the doctor just three days later.”

Hutcherson said she requested a mammogram but was initially discouraged against one by her medical team because she was 26, had never smoked and had no family history of breast cancer.

“I wasn’t leaving until I got it,” Hutcherson said.

Three mammograms later, Hutcherson was diagnosed with DCIS, the earliest stage of breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy just three weeks later. Doctors found a tumor in Hutcherson's right breast during the double mastectomy that required chemotherapy.

Hutcherson, who is currently cancer-free, said she had “no idea” she could get breast cancer at the age of 26. Statistics show she is not alone in facing the disease at an early age.

An estimated 12,000 women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year, according to The American Cancer Society.

Robach was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 after undergoing her first-ever mammogram live on Good Morning America in 2013. Jennifer Finkelstein, of New York City, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at age 32.

“It was five weeks before my wedding,” Finkelstein recalled of her diagnosis. “I underwent a single mastectomy and chemotherapy weeks later instead of a honeymoon.”

Finkelstein, now cancer-free, turned what she called the “most isolating” experience of her life into a way to help others. She launched the 5 Under 40 organization that provides medical, emotional and beauty services to women under 40 who are fighting breast cancer.

Hutcherson is one of the women that Finkelstein’s organization has helped.

“They helped me with the wig, they helped me with the head shaving, and there's always somebody on the other end of the line to get you through the moment,” Hutcherson said.

In addition to the double mastectomy, Hutcherson also froze her eggs after her cancer diagnosis. She recalled to Robach what it was like to date while undergoing treatment.

“I'm, like, out on a date with my wig -- I'll never forget -- and this guy was like, ‘Babe, you have the most beautiful hair,’” she said. “And I'm like, huh, that’s awkward.”

Now more than one year after her diagnosis, Hutcherson has ditched her wig and returned to the dance studio with a new motto: "Liv Strong."

“A warrior princess is who I see,” Hutcherson said of looking at herself today. “I see this strong soul, and that’s really powerful.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Your Body: What to Know About Restless Legs Syndrome

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Do you have an insatiable urge to move your legs or a feeling of creepy crawlies on them at night? If so, you may have restless legs syndrome.

RLS is a common neurologic condition affecting about 7 to 10 percent of the population. Not only does it impact your legs but also your mood.

It can be incredibly disruptive to sleep because it tends to be worse at night. Symptoms often start at rest and are relieved or lessened with movement.

If you experience this, here’s what I suggest:

  • First, don’t panic. Start with a visit to your primary care physician and possibly visit a neurologist or sleep specialist.
  • Treating an underlying condition like iron deficiency can be a big help, as can certain prescription medications, baths or relaxation techniques.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


More than One Million Have Received New, Highly-Effective Hepatitis C Treatment 

Ca-ssis/iStock/Thinkstock(GENEVA) -- More than one million people in low- and middle-income countries worldwide have been treated with a relatively new cure for hepatitis C in the two years since the treatment's introduction.

According to the World Health Organization, Direct Acting Antivirals were first approved in 2013, and despite fears that a high cost would put them out of reach for many of the 80 million who suffer from the disease worldwide, more than one million have already gained access to the treatment. The WHO says the new medicines have a cure rate of over 95 percent and fewer side effects than previously available treatments.

Still, DAAs cost an estimated $85,000, making them unaffordable even in some high-income countries.

The WHO and other partners have worked to make the treatment available in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and others. Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO's Department of HIV and Global Hepatitis Programme said that "maximizing access to lifesaving hepatitis C treatment is a priority" for the organization.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Cancer Survivor Mom Celebrates Her 23-Week Preemie's First Birthday with Photo Shoot 

Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A mother who survived cancer is now celebrating her baby daughter's medical triumph.

The baby girl, who was born at 23 weeks and given a 26 percent chance of survival, has just celebrated her first birthday.

Ajshay James beat cancer in 2010, after battling a type of brain cancer called astrocytoma for four years. So, when she and her then-boyfriend decided to have a child together, James was ecstatic.

"I was really excited to be a mom. It’s something I've waited for a long time," James, 35, told ABC News. "I, myself, am a cancer survivor and I didn’t think it would happen for me."

James had a difficult pregnancy -- from spotting to seizures. In fact, she had to deliver her baby, whom she named Harper, at only 23 weeks after doctors discovered James' umbilical cord was "hanging down."

"It was an immediate threat to my life and an immediate threat to Harper's life," James said.

James also had a difficult birthing process as doctors found three fibroid tumors, which had grown to 17 centimeters, that they had to cut out.

"I lost a lot of blood," James recalled. "I almost didn't make it. She almost didn't make it."

When Harper was born on Sept. 9, 2015, she weighed only 13 ounces. Due to her incomplete development and small size, doctors told James her daughter had a 26 percent chance of survival.

The Houston, Texas woman said because she didn't have the opportunity to take the "normal birthing photos, where I'd hold her and kiss her," she decided she'd go all out for Harper's first birthday with a glamorous photo shoot.

"She was the size of a soda can. You could look through her; she was red in color. She didn't look anything like a baby," James said of Harper when she was first born. "She's what they call a micro-preemie."

Harper will still face developmental challenges. James said her daughter has the capabilities of a five-month-old and is still learning how to crawl. Still, James is optimistic.

"But she's always had a smile from day one and that's what fills me," the proud mother said.

Although it's been a difficult year for the mother and daughter, James told ABC News she has no regrets.

"The journey has been amazing. I not only have the blessing of a daughter, but I've learned so much about my own personal strength," James said. "It's really helped me define and redefine who I am as a woman and as a mother."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Study Refutes 'Cranberry Cure' for Urinary Tract Infections

Alexandra Grablewski/DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association refutes the long-held theory that cranberry capsules can cure urinary tract infecctions in nursing home residents.

The study is the latest data point in decades of conflicting evidence as to the efficacy of the "cranberry cure." While some studies indicated that there was a benefit to using cranberry capsules as a preventative measure, the science remained weak.

Bacteria plus pyuria, the researchers note, is common in older women living in nursing homes. However, when they performed their study, using 185 women over the age of 65, they found no significant difference in the presence of bacteria.

Researchers say 147 women completed the one-year study, but the difference in incidence of urinary tract infection was small -- 10 UTIs in the group receiving cranberry capsules, as compared to 12 in the group receiving a placebo.

Urinary tract infections lead to approximately nine million doctor visits each year, and over one million hospitalizations, mostly involving women.

An editorial also published in the Journal of the American Medical Association said that while further research can be done to find more effective preventative measures, "it is time to move on from cranberries."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Girl Battling Cancer Becomes Honorary Firefighter

Stout Family(O'FALLON, Mo.) -- A 9-year-old girl has become an honorary firefighter as she bravely battles a rare form of cancer.

"She was dancing around saying, 'I'm an honorary firefighter!'" mom Robin Stout of O'Fallon, Missouri, told ABC News. "She was just skipping through the firehouse and was so excited. I was so overwhelmed by their kindness and love and the whole thing was completely amazing."

On May 15, 2014, Keira Stout was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of sarcoma. A tumor had developed behind Keira's right eye, severing her optic nerve and causing her to lose vision in that eye.

Keira underwent several rounds of chemotherapy but her cancer has since returned and is now in her bone marrow, pelvis and spine, her mother said.

"When things get really tough I'll ask her, 'Are you scared?' and she'll say, 'No, I'm not scared,'" Stout said. "She's just very positive and she's kind of an old soul in a tiny little body."

Through mutual friends, the Stouts developed a relationship with the firefighters of the O'Fallon Fire Protection District in September 2015.

Keira became particularly close to firefighter Tom Vogelgesang and even shaved his head during an event for the St. Baldrick's Foundation -- a non-profit organization that raises funds to help find cures for children with cancer.

"They instantly became great friends," Stout said of Keira and Vogelgesang. "She does that. She kind of wiggles into people's hearts. She was like, 'That's my Mr. Tom now.'"

Tom Vogelgesang told ABC News that Brian Moore, assistant chief of the district, came up with the idea to hold a surprise ceremony and name Keira honorary firefighter.

"Everybody knew how Keira and I have been getting close," Vogelgesang said. "We have become friends, her parents and I, and it just seemed like the thing to do for her. It's just her resilience to bounce back. To see her be a child and to hear her talk about cancer and how you can fight it, it's just absolutely incredible."

With her family and a large crowd in attendance, Keira Stout was sworn into the O'Fallon Fire Protection District on Oct. 24.

She even received her own gear, badge and a personalized purple helmet that reads "Keira Strong."

"The first thing she said to me was, 'I can't believe you kept this a secret,'" Stout said of her daughter. "Then she kept asking me, 'Can I wear this to school?'"

On March 4, 2017, Keira and Vogelgesang will be shaving each other's heads during another event for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

Keira's goal is to grow the hair back that she lost from radiation in time for the event.

"She said, 'I have to hurry up and finish [chemo] so my hair can grow back and he can shave my head too,'" Stout said. "I said, 'What happens if it doesn't?' She gets fixated on certain things and I didn't want her to get her hopes up but she said, 'That's OK, I'll just shave [Mr. Tom's] head then and anyone else who wants their head shaved."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Your Body: Study Finds Another Reason to Get off the Couch

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Previous studies have proven a link between a sedentary lifestyle and poor health. But a sweeping new study puts its impact in stark focus.

Researchers fitted 2,500 people with wearable devices like Fitbits for eight days and found that every extra hour a day of inactivity translated into a 22 percent increased risk of diabetes.

This should serve as an important reminder to keep moving. Diabetes is a major risk factor for blindness, heart disease, kidney and vascular problems.

Here's my prescription:

  • Whenever possible, stand rather than sit.
  • If you work at a desk, make sure to get up for a brief walk every hour.
  • Try to take the stairs at least once a day.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


'Patient Zero' Didn't Cause HIV Epidemic in US, New Study Finds

jarun011/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The man who was dubbed "patient zero" and long thought by many to have kick-started the North American HIV/AIDS epidemic actually had little to do with the spread of the virus, according to a new study published Wednesday the medical journal Nature that sheds new light on how HIV emerged in the U.S.

Using blood samples stored for decades and harnessing advanced methods to sequence the genome, the researchers, from multiple institutions including the University of Arizona, were able to reconstruct a comprehensive genome for eight patients dating back to 1978-1979.

The researchers used genetic methods to track and time the evolution of the genes of HIV and timed the emergence of HIV out of Africa to the Caribbean to 1967. As a result, they found that the American epidemic originated in the Caribbean in 1970 before arriving in the U.S.

After the disease arrived in New York City sometime between 1970 and 1974, the study data suggests that the disease quickly spread from New York City to the rest of the country. The HIV epidemic that emerged in San Francisco in 1978 was traced to a single “introduction” from New York City in 1976, according to the study findings.

In a further revision to the historical narrative, researchers also found that one patient often called "patient zero" in media reports likely had little to do with the spread of the disease, and that his infamous title was actually the result of a typo.

For many years, many had pointed to this "patient zero" as being instrumental in spreading the disease in various parts of the U.S. The book "The Band Played On," which documented the early days of the HIV crisis, complicated the story by naming the patient and identifying him as a French-Canadian flight attendant. Media coverage then used information from the book to "strongly" insinuate this man was the source of the North American HIV epidemic, according to the study researchers.

However, after examining his HIV genome, the study researchers found "patient zero's" virus to be "typical of U.S. strains at the time." Subsequent research and new information on the period of time the virus could remain dormant also revealed it was unlikely "Patient 0" had caused the HIV clusters to develop. The researchers found that this person had no “special role” in the epidemic.

Even the patient's title was also the result of a typo. In the records, he was actually labeled Patient "O" -- indicating the patient was “Out[side]-of-California."

While HIV can now largely be controlled with daily medication, it is still responsible for thousands of deaths every year in the U.S. An estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. are infected with HIV and approximately one in eight are unaware they have the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Though discrimination against people who have HIV still exists in some communities, groups are working to break through the stigma and advocates said they hope this study can be a catalyst for change.

Kelsey Louie, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an HIV advocacy organization, pointed out that HIV and AIDS groups have been calling for action rather than just assigning blame.

“Society, and in particular the media, were all too eager to cast blame on a single person, rather than reflect on the stigma they were creating and the lack of political will to actually do something about the disease," Louie told ABC News.

The federal government recommends that all people between the ages of 15 and 65 be screened for HIV, regardless of risk factors. Frequent testing is suggested for people at high risk, including men who have sex with men, people who use injection drugs, and those who have been diagnosed with a different sexually transmitted infection. People at risk for HIV can substantially reduce their risk through use of condoms, and for certain groups, taking a medication daily.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


FDA Evaluates Cardiac Device After Patient's Death

Purestock/iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Federal regulators are investigating a cardiac device after the death of a patient in Los Angeles.

Cedars-Sinai Hospital alerted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month about the device, called the SynCardia Freedom portable driver, after a patient with the device died, hospital officials said.

"The apparent failure of the Freedom Driver -- a portable, external pump that powers an artificial heart -- resulted in the death of a patient," hospital officials told ABC News in an email.

Neither the FDA nor Cedars-Sinai disclosed when the patient died.

The Freedom portable driver pump is attached to the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart to help patients whose own hearts have stopped working effectively. The portability of the pump allows qualified patients to wait at home for a heart transplant. The longest time a patient successfully remained on the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart is 1,374 days before receiving a successful heart transplant, according to the SynCardia website.

After the death of the patient, hospital officials asked other patients to come into the hospital to either remove the device in exchange for another version or to be monitored in the intensive care unit, according to hospital officials. In total, five patients at Cedars-Sinai were on the device as a stopgap measure as they waited for a heart transplant. Three of the patients were switched to a hospital console device to help pump the blood and two remained on the Freedom Driver device, since they were not healthy enough to switch devices, according to Cedars-Sinai.

"Until there is guidance from the FDA or other regulatory agencies, Cedars-Sinai has stopped using the Freedom Driver with any new artificial heart patients," a spokeswoman for the hospital told ABC News.

The FDA gave clarification for providers on Wednesday, acknowledging that the agency is studying the Freedom device system. According to the FDA, there have been reported instances of Freedom Driver "device malfunctions," which have resulted after "sudden cessation" of the pump without "warning alarms or recognizable signs of impending malfunctions."

Some of the devices were recalled in August 2015 by SynCardia after "a specific part of the Freedom Driver drive mechanism" was found to possibly fail, causing the device to stop pumping, according to the FDA. The company sent an "Urgent Medical Device Recall" for 29 devices in the U.S.

The FDA also issued its own recall for the device in September 2015.

"Patients do not receive any advanced warning that the device may fail. If it does fail, a red light located in the center of the driver, towards the top, will stay red and a loud continuous alarm will sound," the FDA said in the recall notice. "However, if the Freedom Driver stops pumping, the patient will lose consciousness almost immediately, which means that the warning light and alarm may not be helpful. The patient will likely experience serious injury or death if not immediately switched to a backup driver by a caregiver."

However, in today's statement, the FDA wrote these recent malfunction reports "appear to be unrelated" to that recall.

In the same notice, the FDA looked at updated information from SynCardia regarding another device called the C2 Driver system, used to help pump blood through the artificial heart. The device had previously been associated with increased rates of mortality and adverse neurological effects in patients when compared to an older device. New findings showed that the device was still associated with increased risk, though the sample size was very small and results were not adjusted for any confounding factors and didn't take into account therapies tried before the implantation of the device in question.

In a statement to Kaiser Health News last week, SynCardia CEO Michael Garippa said the patient who died after using the Freedom device had been "near death."

“It is unfortunate, but that particular patient was on our device for over 500 days, and we extended the life of that patient, who was extremely ill and near death at the time of his artificial heart implant,” Garippa told Kaiser Health News.

SynCardia did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

In light of these reported malfunctions, the FDA now recommends medical providers "consider mortality and neurological adverse event results and device malfunction reports" if they consider using the Freedom Driver or similar device like the C2 Driver system in patients. The FDA is also asking medical providers to promptly report any adverse events associated with these devices.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Runner Overcomes Seizures and Brain Surgery, Returns to NYC Marathon

Courtesy Danielle Hacet(NEW YORK) -- The first clue that something was wrong with Danielle Hacet's brain was when she thought she smelled smoke everywhere.

"At 26, I started smelling fire in random places -- I would be on an airplane, I would be outside," Hacet told ABC News. "Anywhere you could think of I would randomly smell fire."

Hacet initially thought she had a psychological problem, but a neurologist quickly discovered she was having "olefactory hallucinations" and a nerve cell disorder that caused "partial focal seizures." These seizures were virtually undetectable to anyone else, but it meant that Hacet could not drive and could "zone out" at any moment.

Scans revealed scar tissue in her brain, likely the result of a bacterial meningitis infection she contracted as an infant. Hacet's infection caused her to be hearing impaired, but she did not have seizures before.

"As soon as the doctors heard I had meningitis," Hacet told ABC News, "they said ‘Bingo, we know where this is from.’"

Doctors put her on seizure medication, but nothing seemed to help. Hacet found herself frustrated by the effects of the medications. An avid runner, Hacet, of New York City, found her start times slow.

"I had been interested in surgery from day one," Hacet said. "I didn't like the idea of being on medication for the rest of my life."

In July of last year, after spending years without significant improvement from her medications, Hacet decided to have brain surgery to remove old scar tissue from her brain. Though she was anxious to have the operation, she was unprepared for the aftermath.

"I was incredibly helpless," Hacet recalled, "having to rely on my mom and everyone else. It was difficult."

Immediately after the operation, Hacet suffered double vision and an impaired ability to walk, much less run.

"I couldn't walk very well, it was very embarrassing to me to have to be in a wheelchair," said Hacet.

While she was recovering, she returned to her parent's home in Louisville, Kentucky. After weeks of work on regaining her balance, Hacet was delighted to put her running shoes back on for a short two-mile run late last year.

"I only ran like 2 miles or so and I remember being so excited and it was so amazing to be back," said Hacet.

Initially, Hacet's goal was simply to get her health back and said running helped her with her recovery.

"It's a release and it's cathartic," she said.

In January of this year, Hacet had recovered enough from the surgery to run a half-marathon with a friend. After the race, her friend pushed her to do more.

"She told me she was running the New York City Marathon [and] she asked me if i wanted to do it with her," said Hacet.

Despite having brain surgery just months earlier, Hacet said she knew she wanted to run New York City’s marathon again. The first time she ran the marathon in 2013, she had been heavily medicated for her seizures. Now, since she had the surgery to stop the seizures and was not as medicated, she felt she was in a better position to train and race.

"I wanted to challenge myself again," Hacet said. "Running is so important to me and has always been a part of my life."

Hacet has been diligently training for the upcoming TCS New York Marathon next month. Since her doctors are weaning her off her seizure medications, her times have already started to improve. Hacet said after the ordeal of the last few years, she is excited to simply complete the race.

Personal fulfillment is the main goal now.

"Honestly, [it’s about] just crossing the finish line and proving that I can do it again," she said.

Hacet said she and her friend are working hard to prepare and know it will be worth it.

"We're both just looking forward to cheering when it's over and celebrating right after," she said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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