Entries in Reporter (3)


Reporter Uncovers Cancer Diagnosis, Turns Lens on Self

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One reporter’s assignment to take a closer look into how mammograms work turned into a very personal message about the importance of getting screened for breast cancer.

When Salt Lake City anchor and reporter Mary Nickles’ initial report aired, showing her getting a mammogram, it did not allude to anything abnormal in her tests. But Nickles later revealed in her blog that the tests actually detected a small tumor in her left breast.

According to her doctors, Nickles was diagnosed with an infiltrating ductal carcinoma, which means that the cancer has broken through the milk duct and has begun to spread among the breast tissue.

More than 180,000 women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Infiltrating ductal carcinoma is considered one of the most common types of invasive breast cancer.

“I haven’t cried as much as I thought I would,” Nickles wrote in her blog.

Nickles announced her diagnosis on her Facebook wall January 5, and told her followers that she had already undergone a lumpectomy and plans to soon begin chemotherapy and radiation.

“I’m sharing to encourage more of you to get your screenings!” Nickles wrote on her Facebook wall.

Women ages 50 to 74 should get a mammogram once every two years, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Still, some medical centers, including Johns Hopkins, advise women to begin screening at age 40 and follow up annually.

“I hope that this experience shows women actually the value of routine screening,” said Lillie Shockney, administrative director at Johns Hopkins Breast Clinical Programs.

While some experts say that mammograms may expose women to unnecessary radiation levels, studies suggest the radiation dose is low.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Writer Stages Her Own Rape to Cure PTSD

Courtesy of Mac McClelland(NEW YORK) -- Mac McClelland, a civil rights reporter who has seen the impact of sexual violence around the globe, couldn't shake the image of Sybille, a woman who said she had been raped at gunpoint and mutilated in the aftermath of Haiti's catastrophic 2010 earthquake.

While on assignment for Mother Jones last September, McClelland said she accompanied Sybille to the hospital when the woman saw her attackers and went into "a full paroxysm -- wailing, flailing" in terror.

Something snapped in McClelland, too.  She became progressively enveloped in the classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress -- avoidance of feelings, flashbacks and recurrent thoughts that triggered crying spells.  There were smells that made her gag.

McClelland, 31, sought professional help but said she ultimately cured herself by staging her own rape, which she writes about in a haunting piece for the online magazine Good.  The title: How Violent Sex Helped Ease My PTSD.

Her sexual partner mercilessly pinned her, beat her about the head and brutally violated McClelland -- at her request.

"I was not crazy," she told ABC News.  "It was a way for me to deal in sort of a simulated, but controlled situation.  I could say 'stop' at any time.  But it was still awful, and the body doesn't understand when it's in a fight."

McClelland writes, "It was easier to picture violence I controlled than the abominable nonconsensual things that had happened to Sybille."

The article brought out disgust in some readers, but many more were supportive.

"I got an email every 10 minutes from a total stranger, thanking me for saying they felt a lot less isolated and they appreciated someone starting the conversation," she said.  "Some of them were incredibly intense and emotional."

Experts don't recommend self-treatment as a way to alleviate post-traumatic stress, but they say the concept of "mastery" of the situation -- or literally reliving the experience that triggered the mental breakdown -- can be effective.

"People want to feel better and have the tendency when they are feeling terrible to attempt some way at mastery," said Elana Newman, research director for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and a professor of psychology at the University of Tulsa.  "People try to make sense of the experience in any way they can with the resources they've got."

Newman said McClelland was "brave" as a journalist to address her struggle so openly, but she does not recommend that those with post-traumatic stress "put themselves at risk without controls."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


CBS Reporter Suffered Complex Migraine, Not Stroke, Doctor Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images/File Photo(LOS ANGELES) -- A doctor who treated Serene Branson, the CBS Los Angeles reporter whose garbled live report from Sunday's Grammy awards had many wondering if she suffered a stroke on the air, said a complex migraine was to blame.

"Her description of the events is really entirely typical of complex migraine," said Dr. Andrew Charles, director of the Headache Research and Treatment Program in the UCLA Department of Neurology, who saw Branson Thursday morning.

A symptom of migraine aura is "dysphasic language dysfunction," in which people know what they want to say but they can't get the words out.  This is similar to aphasia, which can signal a stroke or a tumor.

"Imaging studies ruled out other kinds of problems like a stroke or primary brain event," Charles said.

Like a stroke, a complex migraine can disturb blood flow in the brain.  But the main event in a migraine is "a storm of brain activity" that causes "waves of change in brain function" that spread across the brain, Charles said.

"There are dramatic changes in blood flow, but in the case of migraine, the changes don't reach the point where they actually damage the brain," Charles said.  "There are no residual effects."

The video of the episode was to some upsetting to watch, as Branson's speech suddenly became slurred and incomprehensible.  She appeared increasingly aware that something was wrong during the broadcast.

Branson was examined shortly after the incident by paramedics on location. Her vital signs were normal and she was not hospitalized.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio