Entries in Survivor (3)


"Survivor" Contestant Lisa Whelchel Has West Nile

Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Lisa Whelchel, the '80s actress battling it out on Survivor: Philippines, says she’s recovering from the West Nile virus.

“Dr. just called with blood test results,” she tweeted Tuesday. “I have West Nile. Ugh. I’m fine, just tired.”

Whelchel, 49, played Blair Warner on The Facts of Life, a 1980s sitcom about an all-girls boarding school in New York. After a 24-year hiatus, she returned to TV for the 25th season of Survivor, which finished filming in April and is currently airing.

It’s unclear when and where Whelchel contracted the mosquito-borne virus, which has infected 5,128 Americans so far this year and killed 229, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than one-third of the cases have been in Texas, where Whelchel lives, according to her Twitter account.

In August, Dallas launched an aerial attack on the virus, spraying the city from airplanes with mosquito-killing pesticides and raising concerns among residents.

“It’s a difficult issue because there’s a lot of sentiment people don’t want this, and there’s a fear of the unknown, but in some ways, it’s very simple,” Mayor Mike Rawlings told ABC News at the time. “When you are dealing with someone’s life, that should come first and foremost.”

Most people who become infected with the West Nile virus show no symptoms at all. But 20 percent of people infected develop West Nile fever, with symptoms including high temperature, headache, tiredness, body aches, and sometimes a rash and swollen lymph glands that can linger for several weeks, according to the CDC.

One in 150 people infected with the virus develops a severe form of the disease that invades the nervous system, causing convulsions, paralysis and coma. People older than 50, and those with compromised immune systems are more at risk, according to the CDC.

Whelchel, who is still in the running on Survivor: Philippines, said she expects to make a full recovery and thanked her Twitter followers for their good wishes.

“I’ve been very touched by all the sweet tweets,” she wrote on her Twitter account. “So grateful for you. Thanks!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cancer Survivor Mark Herzlich Grateful To Compete in Super Bowl

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York Giants’ rookie linebacker Mark Herzlich stepped off the plane in Indianapolis to play against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI and immediately took to Twitter to express his gratitude. He was thankful not just to be there, but to be alive.

“2 yrs ago I was told I might never walk again. Just WALKED off plane in Indy to play in The #SuperBowl. #TakeThatSh*tCancer,” he tweeted.

In 2009, Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. The cancer was isolated to his left leg and the initial prognosis was not positive for the promising Boston College football star.

“They felt the NFL was a long shot,” Herzlich’s father, Sandy, told ESPN last summer. “They were first happy if they could save his life and they were happy if they could save his leg.”

Herzlich was told there were three possible outcomes.

“The worst-case scenario is obviously [that] it gets into other parts of your body and it completely kills you,” Herzlich told ESPN. “Second worst-case scenario is if they saw a small fracture in the bone and it was seeping out. Then they would have to amputate my leg right away within hours of finding it out. … Then better than that would be to remove that portion of the leg, putting in a cadaver bone and being in a cast for six months from the waist down, not ever being able to run again.”

It turns out there was a fourth and even better option.

Herzlich responded phenomenally to aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. He was given the choice to forgo surgery and continue treatment, saving his football career, but increasing the likelihood that the cancer could return, or have surgery, ending his football aspirations, but likely eliminating the cancer.

Herzlich decided to keep his dream alive.

After missing the 2009 college football season to undergo treatment, he took the field for Boston College in 2010. He started in all 13 games, but did not catch the eye of NFL scouts and was not drafted.

Herzlich continued training and eventually signed as a free agent with the New York Giants.

Now, one year into his NFL career Herzlich is set to compete at Lucas Oil Stadium in the biggest football game of the year, an opportunity that three years ago seemed nearly impossible.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Young Breast Cancer Survivors Cured But Not OK

Photodisc/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Nicole Vazquez was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at age 34, a time when she was surrounded by healthy young friends and was professionally active.

“I didn’t realize the impact at first,” the now healthy from Dallas woman, 40, who had been focused on her career as a professional meeting planner. “Within two weeks, I went from being able to plan my life to having no control. It really hit me.”

Thanks to chemotherapy and then surgery, she survived, just celebrating her five-year mark of being cancer free. But treatments have left her with questions about her future fertility and, being so young, she had the additional burden of navigating the dating scene and trying to stay vital in her career.

“I had been physically active in sports, running and playing soccer and I had to quit all that,” she said. “I had a medi-port sticking out of my chest that I had to cover up. Suddenly, here I was trying to go out and meet people and I was very self-conscious. … I didn’t have a boyfriend and now I would be bald. And after the chemo, I really looked sick. Self-image is a really big deal. … And I couldn’t share it with that many people.”

She even slipped into a depression, not during her ”fight” against cancer but after it was over. Her doctor looked at her and said her reaction was “long overdue.”

Breast cancer survival rates have improved dramatically in the past two decades, but the cancer treatments that have allowed more women to survive have also taken a heavy toll, especially on women who are diagnosed at an early age.

Women younger than 50 who survive breast cancer face an array of quality of life challenges: psychological stress, weight gain and decline in physical activity, according to a study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. They also struggle with reproductive issues such as infertility and early-onset menopause.

In studies that were published between January 1990 and July 2010, researchers at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California-Los Angeles found that overall quality of life was compromised in the younger survivors with both physical and mental health problems. Young women were often more depressed than older survivors because of associated fertility issues.

Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in women, and is the leading cause of death in women younger than 50 in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

“By tailoring adjuvant therapy regimens and giving cytotoxic therapy only to those who may benefit, we can mitigate some of these side effects, but the long life expectancy for these younger women also provides a window of opportunity for cancer prevention and health-promotion activities,” the study concluded.

American Cancer Society estimates show that of the 182,460 new cases of breast cancer in females each year, an estimated 10,000 will be women younger than 40 and nearly 23,000 younger than 45, according to the Young Survival Coalition, a national advocacy group based in New York City. Breast cancers account for 26 percent of all cancer in females ages 15 to 39 and 39 percent of women ages 35 to 39.

Younger women find it more difficult to embrace their new body after cancer-related surgery. Whether they are married or single, they also face intimacy issues in dating and relationships, according to the coalition. Treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can also affect a woman’s plans to have children, sometimes rendering her infertile.

When women are younger, they are more apt to be working and a cancer diagnosis can hit them hard economically as they struggle to keep working. Additionally, many will not have health insurance or their plans might not adequately cover cancer treatments.

“Appearance is a big deal, and not in a vain way,” Vazquez said. “I was in the field working and didn’t want clients to say, ‘Oh, poor pitiful Nicole has cancer.’”

She is in a long-term relationship now and, with an irregular menstrual cycle, is wondering whether she will ever have children. Because her “triple negative” form of cancer was so virulent, Vazquez had no time to freeze her eggs before chemotherapy.

But she remains upbeat and mentors other young cancer survivors through the Susan B. Komen Foundation in Dallas. She knows young women, particularly, need support.

In its own studies, the Komen foundation has found that quality of life issues are widespread, troubling and require attention from health care providers and survivors.

In that  report, 87 percent of survivors rated at least one social, physical or emotional issue as a moderate to very severe problem. Their most frequent causes of distress were fatigue, sexual dysfunction and sleep issues, as well as depression.

“My advice is to stay positive and stay strong,” Vazquez said. “We hear such negative information [about cancer], but you can only fight one battle at a time. We are so engulfed in our disease that we forget we have to live our lives every day.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio