Entries in Las Vegas (3)


Las Vegas Machete Attack Victim Now Battling Cancer

ABC (LAS VEGAS) -- A Las Vegas domestic abuse survivor who nearly lost both hands in a machete attack now faces a second challenge. She is undergoing extensive surgery and treatments for uterine cancer.

On the night of March 31, Maria Del Carmen Gomez, 53, was leaving the North Las Vegas convenience store where she worked when she was blindsided by her 50-year-old ex-boyfriend, Armando Vergara-Martinez. He allegedly stabbed her seven times with the machete's 18-inch blade. In the attack he hacked away at her hands, almost severing them completely.

Miraculously, Gomez survived the attack. In two surgeries, doctors were also able to reattach her hands and repair the damage to her skull. Though it is still unclear if she will fully recuperate and regain full use of her hands, she has been undergoing therapy since the incident and was on the path to recovery.

In April Vergara-Martinez appeared in court and said that he would be pleading guilty to the crime.

Now, five months after the brutal attack, Gomez faces another battle: she is being treated for metastatic uterine cancer.

Gomez was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago, and just last week underwent a lengthy surgery to remove her ovaries and uterus. In the five-hour procedure, doctors removed cancerous tissue from her colon, diaphragm and lymph nodes.

Metastatic uterine cancer begins in the endometrium, or the lining of the uterus, and typically occurs after a woman goes through menopause. Treatment typically involves a hysterectomy, or surgery to remove the uterus. The ovaries and fallopian tubes are often also removed.

"The tumor was removed last week," Rebeca Ferreira, who founded the Las Vegas-based Safe Faith United and is supporting Gomez, told ABC News. "It was huge, and it was in a very advanced stage. The doctors said the colon was affected too. They had to remove part of it. She is undergoing chemotherapy, and they've now moved her to a recovery cancer center."

"She's there -- she's very weak and very pale. And the bills continue to pile up," she said.

Ferreira says that both she and Gomez, who is also a diabetic, believe that the cancer may have been accelerated by the trauma and surgeries from her injuries.

"Maria's body has been under a lot of stress, and on a lot of medications, one surgery after another," Ferreira said. "I think maybe that the immune system was there, and it triggered [the cancer]. The doctors haven't said that; they don't know if this comes from weakened immune system."

Research varies on whether or not stress can lead to cancer. Some studies have shown that stress can hinder the immune system's anti-tumor defense, and a 2010 study showed that stress hormones like adrenaline can support tumor growth.

Whether or not the trauma from her brutal attack and her cancer diagnosis are related, the toll on Gomez has been severe.

"She was so strong, she would smile, and say [the attack] was nothing. I'd say, 'This is not nothing, this is something," Ferreira said. "Now she can't take the reality. Now she thinks, 'What am I going to do?'" she said. "Doctors were very optimistic. The doctors said that by December she'd be using her own hands."

"After the cancer, she's another person. She's very sad, very weak, she looks pale, and fragile, and helpless," Ferreira said.

Doctors are saying that Gomez will be able to beat the cancer, but she will have to undergo extensive chemotherapy. In the meantime, she cannot work, so she is relying on the donations to support herself.

Ferreira, who is also a domestic violence survivor, and launched Safe Faith United with her own funds, said she is doing all she can to help Gomez. She says that she has held raffles and invited some politicians to help, and soon plans to raise funds on a larger scale.

Ferreira said she also wants to ensure that Vergara-Martinez -- who, according to the Las Vegas Sun, could face a prison term of four to 40 years -- pays for his crime.

"Since October is National Domestic Violence Month, we're going to head down to the courthouse with banners," she said. "The prosecutor just wants a conviction. If he pleads guilty, he can get out. We don't want him to get away with this."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Restaurant Serves Up 8,000 Calorie Burger

Hemera/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- If you’re going to laugh in the face of obesity by opening a restaurant that serves an 8,000-calorie burger, you might as well open it in Sin City.

And that’s just what Heart Attack Grill owner Jon Basso is doing. On Wednesday, Basso will open the doors to his third Heart Attack Grill location, this time in Las Vegas.

The restaurant offers a Quadruple Bypass Burger that contains four beef patties, cheese, bacon and reportedly, about 8,000 calories. Along with its staple sandwich, the menu offers a milkshake with the world’s “highest butterfat content” (garnished with a tab of butter) and flatliner fries that are deep fried in lard. People who weigh more than 350 pounds eat at the restaurant for free.

The Heart Attack Grill did not immediately return requests for comment.

"[This is an] amazing marketing concept, but unfortunate that eating extremes are a part of that concept,” said Connie Diekman, director of University Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. "I hate to see a restaurant provide food choices that are so contrary to current dietary guidelines, but people do have a choice and they can choose not to go there.”

Upon walking into the restaurants, customers are required to wear hospital gowns. Waitresses dressed as nurses serve the outlandish food, and Basso himself, who prefers to go by Dr. Jon, wears a doctor costume.

The restaurant’s slogan? “A Taste Worth Dying For.”

“This is like physical comedy and spoof, which dives so far into what makes us uncomfortable that suddenly it’s funny,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Center. “But unfortunately, the ‘let’s laugh at fate’ [attitude] can turn very ugly when fate gets the upper hand.”

Sadly enough, fate did get the upper hand when Blair River, a Heart Attack Grill spokesman, died after coming down with the flu earlier this year. He was 29 and weighed 575 pounds.

But that doesn’t stop the infamous restaurant’s marketing tactics.

“We would not find it cute if a particular bar catered to alcoholics and gave them gallon-size drinks to guarantee that everyone would fall down drunk,” said  Katz.  ”We would not find it cute if a facility opened for bulimics that included a public vomitorium. We know that some behaviors are harmful, and the right approach is to help people over them, not pretend they are OK.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Deadly Legionnaires' Disease Sickens Guests on Las Vegas Strip

JupiterImages/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- Nevada health authorities are investigating an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that has been reported at the posh 4,000-room Aria Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Four guests who stayed at the resort were treated for the bacteria-borne disease, but many more may have been exposed from June 21 to July 4.

In the past, air-conditioning systems, showers and hot tubs had been the suspected culprits in larger Legionnaires' outbreaks, but Nevada authorities have not yet determined the cause in this case.

"Legionella is a bacteria that lives in water and loves warm, wet environments," said Dr. Mary Nettleman, professor and head of the department of medicine at Michigan State University. "Unfortunately, people also like warm, wet environments, like hot tubs."

Last February, 200 partygoers at Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills, Calif., came down with flulike chills and high fevers. Four attending the DomainFest Global Conference there went on to develop a mild form of the disease, Pontiac fever.

Health authorities later suspected the mansion's whirlpool had been to blame for the spread of the bacteria.

Legionella transmission can occur through aerosols generated by air injected in the whirlpool, according to Dr. Amir Afkhami, assistant professor in the global health division at George Washington University School of Public Health.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio