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Monday
Mar272017

Teen with cancer dies days after Beyonce FaceTimes with her

Phil McCarten/CBS(HOUSTON) -- Ebony Banks, the Houston teen battling a rare form of cancer, has died -- just days after her wish to speak to her idol Beyonce was fulfilled.

A spokesman for Alief Independent School District, where Banks was a student, confirmed that she passed away early Sunday morning.

"I understand she had a smile on her face till the very end," spokesman Craig Eichhorn told ABC News.

Hours later, the students at Alief Hastings High School, from which Banks had recently graduated and where she was a member of the color guard for four years, organized a candlelight vigil in the band practice lot.

Members of the color guard held their candles up in the air and swayed along to the song "Halo" by Beyonce.

They were the same folks who had organized a social media campaign more than a week ago to get Beyonce to meet Banks, using the teen's nickname Ebob and the hashtag #EbobMeetsBeyonce.

After Beyonce made the FaceTime call to Banks last Wednesday, friends and fans took to Twitter to celebrate and post pictures of the big moment.

In the clip, Banks tells Beyonce that she loves her, and the singer replies, "I love you."

Banks was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer last summer and started chemotherapy in September, according to her band director, Paul Brodt.

But Brodt told ABC News last week that Banks still made every effort to attend school as well as color guard practice and competitions. In fact, she showed up at a competition earlier this month before her health took a turn for the worse.

Afterward, Banks remained in the hospital and received her high school diploma at a special ceremony held at MD Anderson and attended by 100 people -- including her 23 color guard teammates, school faculty members, school administrators and hospital staffers.

It was at her special graduation that the campaign to meet Beyonce was launched.

"Our kids love her ... and would do anything for her," Brodt said last week. "She's inspired everybody -- me along with all of our kids."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar272017

Firefighters shave heads to support colleague's son with cancer

The Lambert Family(RICHMOND, Va.) -- A Virginia fire department is coming together in support of a fellow fireman's toddler, who is fighting cancer.

The Richmond Fire Department has raised close to $50,000 after 3-year-old Caleb Lambert was diagnosed with stage 3 neuroblastoma in February, dad Courtland Lambert told ABC News.

"Me and my wife are extremely humbled," said Lambert, a resident of Mechanicsville, Virginia. "You don't ever think that your child is going to have to go through something like that. We've quickly realized how much a text or phone call can mean ... you feel so grateful from the outpouring of support from everybody."

Lambert, a 15-year firefighter and dad of three, informed his colleagues that his son had cancer immediately after he was diagnosed.

"You live with these people for 24 hours a day; on average, we work about 10 days a month," Lambert said. "The fire department as a whole is probably around 400 to 415 people ... they've been working shifts for me so I don't even have to use my time. The fire [department] is a brotherhood and a sisterhood. ... I'm glad that it's been there for me when I needed it."

Caleb has been receiving chemotherapy treatments at VCU Medical Center in Richmond.

The station immediately began fundraising for Caleb's medical expenses, Lambert's fellow firefighter Betty Migliaccchio told ABC News.

"We went back to the station that night and started talking about how this is going to be big," Migliaccchio said. "We started to figure out how we were going to get [Lambert's] shifts covered. We work so well together that when something happens in a family, it touches us personally."

Since Caleb loves fire trucks and visiting "Daddy's fire station," Migliaccchio asked fellow firefighters to send videos of them giving tours of their own firehouses to the Facebook page Team Caleb -- something Caleb's dad would do over FaceTime each night before bedtime.

Soon, the videos came pouring in from all over the world, Migliaccchio said.

Over the next month, the firefighters of Station 1 in Richmond launched a GoFundMe and sold T-shirts. On Saturday, they raffled off a truck and shaved their heads in honor of Caleb, partnering with the St. Baldrick's Foundation for a fundraiser.

"Fundraising events, like the one on March 25, and volunteers, like the firefighters of Richmond, are why the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is now the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants," said Kathleen Ruddy, St. Baldrick’s chief executive officer. "The foundation’s success in funding lifesaving research for kids like Caleb Lambert wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Migliaccchio hopes the weekend helped meet the fundraising goal of $100,000 for Caleb and his family, she said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar272017

Why I chose to document my preventive double mastectomy on social media

ABC NewsBy PAIGE MORE

"Good Morning America" booker and segment producer Paige More shares her personal experience of under going a double mastectomy in her early 20s after she tested positive for a BRCA1 genetic mutation, which greatly increases your risk of developing breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Foundation.

I have always been fearless. I grew up snowboarding, surfing, and cliff diving in southern California. New adventures excite me and nothing stresses me out. I have always believed that no matter what happens in my life, I can handle it.

That all changed when I was 22 years old and tested positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation. I had just started working as a booker for Good Morning America, when my mom urged me to take the test. I didn't think much of it as I was busy trying to prove myself at my new dream job. I figured if it would make my mom happy, then I would take the test. I found out a few weeks later that I had tested positive when my doctor called me with my mom on the line. They both told me they were sorry. I still didn't really understand.

It wasn't until a few months later when my mom came to visit me in the city that the gravity of the mutation set in. It is so important to make sure you are ready for the results before you get tested. We didn't understand how much this was going to impact my life. It is so important to be prepared for the results. I was told that I essentially had two options. I could begin intensive surveillance programs, which meant endless visits to the doctor's office for mammograms, MRIs and blood work. That felt like waiting around to get cancer. My other option was to have a preventative double mastectomy. I left my oncologist's office feeling overwhelmed and scared of my future for the first time in my life.

I spent the next few months talking with my close friends and family. Everyone was incredibly supportive. But no one told me what to do. I really wanted some guidance either way. Should I have the surgery or should I wait until I was older? What if cancer struck while I was waiting? What was I waiting for?

I was never a worrier or an anxious person and I worried about getting cancer every single day. Every time I tried on a new top, took a shower, or looked in the mirror I thought, "I am going to get breast cancer." It was so overwhelming I realized I couldn't live in constant fear anymore.

Fortunately, I was in a great place in my life and I felt like I was ready to have a preventative double mastectomy. My friends, family, and boyfriend were incredibly supportive. I had a stable and steady job. I was healthy and fit. I knew I didn't want to worry and I knew that I would most likely have to do this someday anyway. I was ready now. I wanted to do everything in my power to be a "Previvor," not a survivor.

A previvor is someone who is a survivor of a predisposition to cancer but who hasn't had the disease. This group includes people who carry a hereditary mutation, a family history of cancer, or some other predisposing factor.

In October, we set my surgery date for January 3. I had 90 days to really prepare. I asked my doctors if I should do anything to better prep myself for surgery. They said no. I didn't listen. I joined the gym across from my office and started working out regularly. I ate as healthfully as I could. I made sure I was in the best shape of my life for January 3.

Walking into surgery was one of the strangest experiences in my life. I wanted to turn and run away, but I knew I had to face this head on, like I do with everything else in my life. After a few hours my doctors came out to tell my parents that the surgery had gone incredibly well, in part because my muscles were so strong and I was so healthy. I am so thankful I chose to be proactive and make sure my body was as strong as possible before my surgery. It gave me something other than the surgery to focus on and gave me a sense of power that I had control back over my body. Having a strong core and legs helped me so much during my recovery.

I never intended to share my story. Before my surgery, I looked up double mastectomies online and only saw horror stories and worst-case scenarios. I read how women no longer felt feminine or struggled with their body image after having their breasts removed. I was terrified of feeling the same way. I felt like I had no one to talk to. I felt completely alone. After my surgery I flew home to California to recover and to be close by my family.

While I was home, my little sister who is 13 and loves Instagram, wanted to take some photos of me. I didn't really want to because I expected to be disappointed by what I looked like. But my little sister hasn't been tested for the genetic mutation yet and I wanted her to see that I was still the same big sister and that my surgery hadn't changed me. I also didn't want her to be scared about getting tested for the genetic mutation in the future.

When she showed me the photos she took I couldn't believe how much I loved them and how I looked. I couldn't believe how beautiful I felt. I actually felt sexier than I have ever felt in my life because I knew I took control of my body and potentially saved my own life. That made me feel so empowered and strong. My scars reminded me of this decision and made me feel beautiful. So we continued taking photos and I began posting them to my personal social media accounts.

The response was incredible. People were so supportive. Women from all over the world were reaching out to me, thanking me for sharing and being so open. I felt like I couldn't stop. I wanted people to know that you can have a double mastectomy and it doesn't have to ruin your life. Not only was I happy, I was no longer worrying about the risk of getting breast cancer.

As I continued to post, I started connecting with more and more women. I quickly realized I needed a separate space to post about my experience. I created an Instagram, @paige_previvor, so women going through similar situations would be able to reach me.

Through sharing my story on Instagram I quickly realized that there are a ton of other women who feel similarly to me. I felt compelled to do everything in my power to prevent other young women like me from feeling alone. Through Instagram I have formed a community of young women who have been affected by breast cancer in some capacity.

Rather than having to sit in a stuffy support group meeting, I have started setting up events around the city where we can get together in a comfortable and fun environment -- I call them my breast friends! I hope to give them a platform to share their stories and find a way to help women all over the world connect with each other through Our Move Movement.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Mar262017

Iowa fire department welcomes six babies in seven months 

Brissey Photography(MEDIAPOLIS, Iowa) -- There must be something in the water at one Iowa fire station.

Six volunteer fire fighters at the Mediapolis Fire Department welcomed six children in the last seven months.

"We didn't have a plan to do this," Captain Troy Garrison, who welcomed a daughter named Emma four months ago, with his wife Dina, told ABC News. "But I think the stars just kind of aligned and the timing for us individually as families just worked out."

Along with Garrison, 36, firefighters Cody Tisor, Seth Eberhardt, Skyler Schwerin, Adam Welp, and Captain Tom Brockett also welcomed children.

Brockett, who's been volunteering at the fire station since 2001, and his wife Megan were the last to tell the group they were expecting. Three weeks ago, the two welcomed Neva.

And although Brockett said he and his wife of nearly four years were "really happy" for the other couples, it was hard as they were privately going through in vitro fertilization.

"We were just really praying that we'd get to be part of that," he said. "And then finally we got to come out [and say] 'We're pregnant.' We were the last ones so ... it was fun. We were happy."

Adam Welp, who's been volunteering for three years, told ABC News he was just happy to welcome all of the new fathers to the fold.

He and his wife of four years, Katie, welcomed their second child, Kalvin, six weeks ago. Welp, 29, is also a father to a 2-year-old daughter named Kolby.

"For me, it's kind of fun because a couple of the guys -- like Tom and Troy -- they're a little older than me but this was their first child," Welp said. "It was fun to be younger, but showing them the ropes."

The first time the six firefighters got their new children together was at a photo shoot with local photographer, Debbie Brissey.

"It was a blast," Welp recalled, adding that his wife created the babies' skirts and trousers on her maternity leave thanks to "some old retired gear."

The firefighters, who are among 25 volunteers at the station, said their dedication to their community won't change, and they already have a plan just in case they're all called to fight a fire and they can't find a babysitter.

"The plan is just for everyone to go to the fire station and hopefully one of the wives will be there to hand our kids off to," Brockett said.

Still, putting on their gear will be harder for some.

"I remember the first time I went [to fight a fire] after having my daughter," Garrison recalled. "But you get on the truck and recheck your priorities.

"We still have a job to do," he added. "The public depends on us to do our job the best we can."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Mar262017

Cancer Research UK has launched major pancreatic cancer study

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- In an effort to improve survival rates of patients, the cancer research charity Cancer Research UK has launched a major study to find efficient and effective treatment for individual tumors according to a BBC News report.

The study is called the PRECISION-Panc project.

Researchers at Glasgow University in Scotland will receive over $12 million in funding, BBC reports.

The project is presented amid a rise in pancreatic cancer rates in Scotland. The rate of diagnosis has increased 12% over the past 10 years according to BBC News, a rise of approximately 170 people.

The research will take place over three stages, with potentially more trials to come in the future.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Mar252017

'Beauty and the Beast' star Audra McDonald opens up about having a baby at 46

Brad Barket/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's been 16 years since Audra McDonald had a baby.

Now at age 46, the "Beauty and the Beast" star has a second baby and a first with her husband and fellow Broadway star Will Swenson.

The couple welcomed daughter Sally James last October.

McDonald said she has changed as a mother since the first time around.

"I’m calmer this time around, 16 years later," she told People magazine. "Or maybe it’s that I’m just tired because I’m older, but I don’t sweat the small stuff as much."

And although Sally James is only 5 months old, she already has a larger-than-life personality, her mother said.

"In some ways, I don’t worry about her — this is a very strong personality, I’m seeing it already!" she said. "This is someone who’s not gonna let anybody walk over her at all. In fact, she’ll be the one doing the walking."

When the six-time Tony Award winner announced her pregnancy, she said it was unexpected.

"Who knew that tap dancing during perimenopause could lead 2 pregnancy? @thewillswenson & I are completely surprised but elated 2 b expecting," she wrote on Twitter last May.

McDonald, who formerly starred on the ABC series "Private Practice," also has a daughter, Zoe, from a previous marriage, and Swenson has two sons with his former wife.

"Zoe is such a fantastic big sister to Sally James," McDonald said of her older daughter. "That’s just who she wants to hang out with. Every time Zoe walks into the room, Sally lights up. And that’s so important to me."

"Zoe is a rock star as far as Sally James is concerned," she added. "If you wanna make me melt, just put my two daughters together, and I’m a puddle."

McDonald and Swenson, 43, married in 2012 at their home in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Mar252017

Rise of 'membership medicine' plans against health insurance

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What if your health coverage was more like a gym membership?

Shellee Enfinger and her husband support their family of five by paying $250 per month for health coverage. She said with direct primary care or "membership medicine" she can text her doctors, who are available 24-7.

Enfinger said she was paying as much as her mortgage payment for health insurance.
Now by paying a monthly fee for direct primary care, she avoids spending money on high premiums and deductibles.

"We pay a membership, just like a gym membership or anything you pay monthly," Enfinger said.
But health experts warn it doesn't provide the same coverage as health insurance, unless you pay extra for catastrophic insurance.

"I think it's not good for people who don't have a lot of discretionary income, who are fooled into thinking it's insurance-- when it isn't-- who do not understand that they may be just a block away from a catastrophic health event," Prof. Carolyn Engelhard, of University of Virginia's School of Medicine, told ABC News.


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Friday
Mar242017

Boy's giggle fits turned out to be rare form of epileptic seizures

UCLA Health(LOS ANGELES) -- For years, Justin Cho's family thought they simply had a happy kid who liked to laugh, even when nothing funny happened.

"Ever since he was an infant he would giggle and it would be very short lived, anywhere between 2 to 5 seconds," Justin's father, Robert Cho, said on the UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital website.

However, these chuckles didn't mean Justin was laughing. His giggle fits were actually seizures and a sign he had a rare form of epilepsy called gelastic epilepsy. The family realized something was wrong when Justin's condition progressed and he had a full-fledged traditional epileptic seizure.

At UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, doctors saw on an MRI scan that Justin, 9, had a benign mass, or lesion, in his brain. This lesion, called a hypothalamic hamartoma, can cause developmental delay, cognitive deterioration and psychiatric symptoms such as rage behaviors, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

Dr. Aria Fallah, a pediatric neurosurgeon at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital who treated Justin, told ABC News that the area where the lesion occurred is deep within the brain and vital to keeping the body functioning normally.

"The challenges of treating it is that medications don't usually work, and left untreated it can cause cognitive impairment," Fallah said.

Hypothalamic hamartoma is usually present since birth, but most parents don't realize anything is wrong until years later, Fallah explained.

"It usually takes a long time," said Fallah. "Not many parents think giggling is problem, they think 'Oh my child is happy.'"

In order to help Justin recover without doing open surgery on his brain, doctors instead were able to fix the lesion by using laproscopic tools, which is much less invasive than traditional surgery. The hypothalmus is deep in the brain and near the pituitary gland. Any injury to this area can mean a dangerous brain bleed or ongoing issues later with growth, hormones and other issues.

Once inside the brain, surgeons were able to destroy the lesion with an optic laser, minimizing damage to other vital tissue. A long thin rod was inserted into the brain, and through virtual reality maping, surgeons were able to get the tool to the mass and minimize the harm to other areas of the brain.

"It heats up the tissue to the point till it's destroyed," Fallah explained.

After the lesion is destroyed, no new seizures are expected unless another lesion forms. Since the surgery is much less invasive, it also means less recovery time for the patient.

"There's essentially no recovery time," Fallah explained to ABC News. "By the time he wakes up, he almost ready to leave."

Now, six months after the surgery, Justin has had no new seizures, according to Fallah.

"Prior to this you'd see bursts of himself," Fallah said. "Now he's more of himself."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar242017

Julianne Hough wants to start 'open conversations' about endomitriosis

ABC/Eric McCandless(NEW YORK) — Julianne Hough hopes being vocal about her struggle with endometriosis will help more women feel comfortable talking about their own experiences. In an interview with People, she talked about her diagnosis.

"When I was 15, I had symptoms of endometriosis, but I had never heard of it, didn't know what it was," she said. "I thought that this was just the kind of pain you have when you're on your period. For years, I was just thinking that it was normal and never really talked about it."

After being rushed to the hospital in 2008, she found out about her condition and soon had surgery.

"The first initial thought was a little bit of fear because I didn't know what it was, especially because it's not talked about as much as it is today," Hough said. "And then also relief because I was able to put a name to the pain, and know there were treatments and I could talk to my doctor and create a plan to help manage the pain."

She's now working with a campaign to raise awareness of endometriosis. She said it's about starting an open conversation about symptoms.

"I don't care about being private about this anymore because I really want the women that are going through debilitating pain to benefit from my story or this campaign," the Dancing With the Stars judge said.

She's made some adjustments since her diagnosis — she slows down when she needs to, and takes days off when necessary, but said she still leads an active, healthy lifestyle. Her fiancé, Brooks Laich, has been a source of support, Hough said.

"He's amazing," she said. "The first time he found out about it was because I was having an episode, and I couldn't even speak. As soon as it passed, I was able to tell him what it was. Now he knows when I'm having a little episode, and just rubs my back and is there for me and supports me. There's comfort in knowing that the people around me get it and understand, so I don't feel like I have to push through the pain because I don't want to look weak."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar242017

Can birth control pills protect women from cancer?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Taking birth control pills has previously been associated with several non-contraceptive benefits. But now, a new study shows the pill can help protect women from certain cancers for decades after a woman stops taking it.

"This latest study reinforces what we have known for decades," ABC's Chief Women's Health Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said on Good Morning America Friday. "But this study represented the longest follow up."

"[Researchers] looked at 46,000 women, followed them up to 44 years and found that the risks of certain types of cancers were dramatically reduced. We're talking lower risk of ovarian cancer, lower risk of endometrial cancer -- which is a type of uterine cancer -- and lower risk of colorectal cancer," she added.

On the flip side, Ashton noted that taking the pill does slightly increase the risk of developing a blood clot.

"Some studies, though not this one, have shown a slight increase in the risk of cervical cancer and breast cancer but the breast cancer risk returns back to baseline after a woman stops taking the pill," she added.

If you choose not to take birth control pills, there are other ways of reducing cancer risks. Ashton said pregnancy lowers the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer; avoiding obesity lowers the risks of ovarian, endometrial and colorectal cancer; and taking an aspirin can lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

New data also shows that removing the fallopian tubes can cut the risk of ovarian cancer, she said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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