The Email Brittany Maynard Sent on the Last Day of Her Life

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Brittany Maynard, the cancer patient who battled for the right to die with dignity last month, sent out an email to a woman she never met just hours before ending her life.

The email was sent to Barbara Mancini of Philadelphia who had sent Maynard a message a few days earlier, but did not expect to hear back.

"In the note, I told her I admired what she was doing. I felt it was selfless and courageous," Mancini told ABC News on Thursday. "I never expected she would respond because it was late October and I knew she was having daily seizures and she was getting worse all the time."

But Maynard, who was dying from brain cancer, did respond. She emailed Mancini just hours before she ended her life on Nov. 1.

Mancini, a former nurse, has had her own experience with assisted suicide. She was arrested in 2013 for giving her terminally ill father a lethal dose of morphine. She was exonerated this February, but Mancini is still haunted by the incident.

"I was under prosecution for a year," she said. "It was a horrible, horrible thing to go through."

In her note, Maynard said she was familiar with Mancini's story and urged her to keep fighting for death with dignity laws.

"Stories like yours and mine put human faces on a controversial topic that many politicians are happy to sweep under the rug," Maynard wrote. "I wish I could have had the pleasure of meeting you in person."

Mancini said she was "deeply touched" by the note, especially since it was written at the end of Maynard's life. She vows to continue advocating so more people like her dad and Maynard can die in peace.

"I truly believe it's the right thing to allow dying people who are mentally competent have a choice in how their life ends," she said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Cyber Santa Claus Connects With Patients at Pennsylvania Children's Hospital

iStock/Thinkstock(HARRISBURG, Pa.) -- Santa Claus is busy this time of year, but dozens of patients at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital got a chance this week to share their Christmas wishes with Santa through web-enabled cameras and a live video monitor.

The hospital’s Child Life Program connected with the North Pole Tuesday through the web so that children who would otherwise be unable to visit Santa in person still get a chance to interact with Santa. And for the many patients who weren’t able to leave their bed, hospital workers carried around iPads so they, too, could speak with Santa, according to ABC affiliate WHTM in Harrisburg.

“Some of the boys and girls have to be at the hospital to be checked out and so forth, so this is a really great way for Santa to be in touch,” Santa told WHTM. “This is a great place to get them to feel better, so it’s really important that we can make a memory and make this a special Christmas.”

Aiden, one of nearly 60 patients who met with cyber Santa, wished for a train. In the meantime he got an early gift -- a superhero blanket, as well as a cyber high-five from Santa.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Why One Couple ‘Canceled Christmas’ for Their Three Kids

ABC News(HURRICANE, Utah) — John and Lisa Henderson’s decision to cancel Christmas gift-giving for their children has brought the couple a wave of attention.

In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America correspondent Abbie Boudreau, the Hendersons of Hurricane, Utah, explained why their three sons would not get any presents this Christmas.

“They had been acting up quite a bit, and weren't very grateful for the things they had,” Lisa said of 11-year-old Caleb, 8-year-old Davis and 5-year-old Beckham.

John and Lisa said they’d been fighting an uphill battle with their three sons, saying the boys’ recent behavior had been disrespectful and entitled.

“We would hit each other, we were fighting. Crying,” Caleb said.

Time-outs weren’t working, so the Hendersons took drastic measures. John, a 34-year-old civil engineering estimator, proposed that no Christmas presents be given to the children this year, and Lisa, 36, agreed.

The children's reactions were predictable. “They cried pretty hard,” Lisa said.

The stay-at-home-mom wrote about the plan on her blog, Over the Big Moon, explaining that she and her husband would use the money that would have paid for their children’s gifts to purchase goods for the needy. The Nov. 24 post, titled “Why My Husband and I Cancelled Christmas,” generated lots of discussion by her readers and racked up more than 350 comments.

Many of the commenters were outraged. Some accused Lisa of being “mean” and “a lazy parent,” and one wrote: “Just another adult expecting a child NOT to act like a child. Great job, take the magic away and force them into reality. How dare they expect their parents to allow them to act like children who 'want' things! Shame on them right? Hope you feel better about YOURSELF, because this is what this whole thing is about. Hope you don’t feel 'entitled' to need anything from them once they are adults.”

Others, though, praised her for teaching her children about the true meaning of Christmas.

One poster wrote: “As an elementary school teacher, PLEASE believe me when I say what you did is a BLESSING for them, and will continue to help them through their lives. I can't tell you how many (maybe not rich, but certainly affluent) kids I see come through that have PLENTY and expect to get more, just because they always have! It may be 'cute' at four or five, but parents don't seem to understand how UNcute it is at TWENTY-four or five (and beyond). Godspeed!”

Asked what she would say to parents who think her actions were too extreme, Lisa replied: “I think they're the people that are causing this problem. How many times do parents threaten if you're naughty no Santa will come. I never hear any parents actually follow through on that.”

The children seem to be learning their lesson.

Caleb said he’s learning more about what Christmas really means. “It's not about getting what you want, it's about giving,” he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Shrinking Your Snacking Window Could Keep the Pounds Off

iStock/Thinkstock(LA JOLLA, Calif.) — Back in the days before there were smartphones, computers, TVs and even radios, people used to turn in early, which essentially limited their eating time as well.

Researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, point that out because it might explain why Americans weigh more than they ever have. In other words, when there are more opportunities to snack at any time of the day or night, people will pack on more pounds.

They figured this out by doing tests on mice. One group only got to eat during a nine-to-12 hour window while the other mice could feed their appetites whenever they wanted.

Ultimately, the group that only ate during the nine-to-12 hour window, essentially binge-eating, weighed less than the mice who snacked freely. What’s more, they consumed the same amount of calories.

In fact, the size of the mouse or the kind of foods eaten did not affect the results – what mattered was when the mice gobbled up their grub.

And in another significant finding, the mice that gained weight from snacking at any time wound up dropping five percent of their body weight when their eating was restricted to the nine-to-12 hour window.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


The Easy Way to Make Coffee Taste Less Bitter

iStock/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) — Want your coffee to taste better? Then ditch the white mug.

Psychology researcher George Van Doorn of Monash University in Australia says that people tend to think their coffee tastes more bitter when sipped from a white cup. He says that the color brown may have something to do with that perception and that a white container makes coffee appear browner.

To prove that point, Van Doorn had participants drink the same brand of coffee from white, blue and glass mugs and the general consensus was that the coffee tasted more “intense” in the white container.

In another experiment, even when the cups were the exact shape, it was the coffee served in a white mug that was listed as most bitter and intense.

Van Doorn claims the study might be useful to coffee shops in that avoiding white mugs might help to generate repeat business.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Texas Brain Teaser Solved After Statewide Search

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The mystery of what happened to 100 missing brains from a Texas university was solved Wednesday when officials determined that the brains being sought had been destroyed over a decade ago.

As many as 60 jars of brains were disposed in 2002 as biological waste, according to a statement from University of Texas Austin. Many of the jars had more than one brain, an official said.

University officials said the brains were destroyed because they were too damaged to use for study or research.

The announcement ended a statewide search for the missing specimens after a new book, Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital, from photographer Adam Voorhees and journalist Alex Hannaford, drew attention to a collection of brains at the University of Texas Austin.

The book said that the collection originally consisted of 200 brains, but 100 brains had disappeared over the years.

Co-curators of the collection, professors Tim Schallert and Lawrence Cormack, told the Austin American-Statesman they think one or many people may have taken the brains as ghoulish decorations.

"It's entirely possible word got around among undergraduates and people started swiping them for living rooms or Halloween pranks," Cormack told the Austin American-Statesman.

Calls went out to area research facilities on rumors that they had the brains. The University of Texas San Antonio said they didn't have the brains, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio said their brain bank did not include the missing specimens.

UT Austin ended the mystery Wednesday by determining the specimens had long been destroyed.

“This was done in coordination with faculty members who determined that the specimens had been in poor condition when the university received them in the 1980s and were not suitable for research or teaching,” read the partial statement about the brains’ disposal.

About 100 brain specimens from the same donation are still being used for teaching and research purposes.

The brains had been donated in 1986 by the Austin State Hospital, which treated medical patients. The brains were taken from deceased patients during routine autopsies over decades, according to a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, which runs the hospital.

UT Austin was given "temporary permission" to use the brains for research and teaching purposes under the 1986 agreement.

The new book also mentions rumors that the brain of notorious Texas Tower gunman Charles Whitman could have been among the collection. Whitman killed 16 people from a clock tower at UT Austin in 1966 before he was shot and killed by police.

UT Austin officials said Wednesday they "have no evidence at this time that any of the brain specimens came from Charles Whitman, though we will continue to investigate those reports."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Dating App LoveFlutter Covers Users' Faces, Hosts Paper Bag Speed Dating

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Call 2014 the year of mobile dating. With 50 million accounts and counting on Tinder, people are relying on dating apps more than ever to hook up, but one dating app is trying to go beyond sexy selfies – by covering users’ faces.

The app, LoveFlutter, has been dubbed the so-called "anti-Tinder" (Tinder does show profile pics). LoveFlutter users find matches based on 140-character blurbs, which the company calls #QuirkyFact, before their photos are revealed -- to create an account, users also have to take a "QI" or "Quirky Interesting" Test.

And LoveFlutter has taken anonymous dating one step further by hosting special speed-dating events where participants wear paper bags over their heads.

The founders say the idea is to have sparks fly based on personality instead of looks.

“The paper bag is such a plain thing; it levels the playing field,” LoveFlutter co-founder David Standen said.

LoveFlutter’s motto is #SayNoToShallow, and paper bag speed daters are encouraged to display their personalities and thoughts about themselves on their bags with doodles and written messages. Daters keep track of their “likes” and “passes” on a form. If it’s a mutual “like,” LoveFlutter will connect the daters later via email.

Although when Nightline recently attended one of their speed-dating events in New York City, it didn’t seem that many couples mingled after the paper bags came off. But LoveFlutter’s creators are optimistic that online daters can get beyond a pretty face.

“We’ve yet to see the first paper bag marriage but, hopefully, that comes soon,” co-founder Daigo Smith said.

LoveFlutter is free, but is currently on iOS devices and Web only, with an Android app coming soon, according to the company’s website.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Is "Mean Girls" Wrong? Study Finds Boys Are Cattier than Girls

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Contrary to popular belief -- and the characters depicted in the movie Mean Girls -- boys are actually cattier than girls, according to a new study.

Researchers writing in the journal Aggressive Behavior say that at every grade level from middle school through high school, boys more frequently than girls used rumors, rejection, and social exclusion to manipulate others.

Overall, 96% of boys and girls said they had passed a rumor or made a nasty comment about someone, and 90% had been victims of relational aggression.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Runners Will Chug Through Wednesday's Beer Mile World Championships, Texas) -- To most people, going for a “beer run” means popping down to the market for a six pack. But for competitors in Wednesday night’s first ever Flotrack Beer Mile World Championships, it means chugging a beer between all-out sprints.

A beer mile race works like this: Competitors line up on a track. Before they start running they knock back a 12-ounce bottle or can of brew. They take another drink at the start of each quarter mile lap for a total of four beers. Anyone who loses their lunch before the end of the race is rewarded with an additional penalty lap.

Wednesday night’s World Championships in Austin, Texas, is the first time beer racers will compete in a bonafide race setting, complete with automatic timing, professional track meet rules, and race officials, according to Runner’s World magazine.

And lest you think the beer mile is a sport full of Homer Simpsons, world record holder James Nielsen completed a chug and run mile in a smoking fast 4:57.1 minutes. Chris Kimbrough -- a 45-year-old mom of six -- smashed the women’s world beer mile record by over 13 seconds last month when she guzzled and ran her way through the distance in just under 6 minutes and 30 seconds.

The men’s field Wednesday night includes Scott McPherson, who was a top 20 finisher at this year’s Boston Marathon. McPherson said beer mileing is the perfect way to combine his love of running with his love of drinking.

“We take racing and training so seriously, it’s a nice way to kick back and have fun,” he said.

McPherson, who says he is usually more of a bourbon fan, trained hard for Wednesday night’s event. He ran interval workouts on the track stopping every 200 to 800 meters to suck down a beer.

But McPherson said he never threw up during a workout. He feels confident he can avoid the vomit penalty lap on Wednesday night.

“I have a good gullet and I think that will help me out,” he said.

Sans beer, McPherson has run a mile in 4:05. But he said anything under 5:15 Wednesday night will make him happy.

“I could set the record or I can run a six-minute mile -- it’s anyone’s guess,” he said. “Either way I’ll have a blast.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Strangers Send Cards to Help Dying Utah Girl Celebrate Last Christmas

Tami Fausett(NEW YORK) -- Although she's just 6 years old, this might be Addie Fausett's last Christmas.

"She's loved Christmas," Addie's mother Tami Fausett, 29, told ABC News. "It's been really hard."

Last year, an MRI revealed that Addie had extensive atrophy to her brain.

"[Doctors said there was] roughly a year for her left, and that could go sooner if the wrong part of the brain decides to go," said Fausett.

When Addie was 3 years old, the stay-at-home mom from Fountain Green, Utah, noticed that her daughter stopped growing.

"We had taken her to the doctor because we noticed her behavior started to change and she was kind of shaky with her hands," Fausett said. "She started to slow down a little bit. When she was closer to 4, she fell off the growth chart."

Despite multiple doctor visits and numerous tests, doctors have been unable to determine what exactly is ailing Addie, who has never weighed more than 25 pounds.

"It angers me that they can't figure out what's wrong, what's taking my little girl," said Fausett, who quit her job to take care of Addie. "I know even if they found out what it was, they wouldn't be able to stop it. I would just love to know what it was, because it's hard to know your kid's sick but to not know what it is."

With Christmas just weeks away, Fausett said Addie is having a harder time with talking and doing a lot of things.

"She's a happy kid, but a lot of days she just cries all day," Fausett said. "I don't know if she's just in pain or just, you know, having trouble communicating or just doesn't feel good."

Since Addie is unable to play with other children because of her restrictions, Addie's grandmother came up with the idea to ask people to send Christmas cards to Addie and her sisters, Shayley, 10, and Audree, 7, and to tell Addie they were her friends.

Every day, the family and Addie, on her good days, pick up hundreds of Christmas cards at the post office.

"She loves it. She just smiles," Fausett said. "And some of them are her boyfriends. One little boy put that he was her boyfriend, and another little one she said, 'This one is my boyfriend.'"

With the help of family and friends and social media, Addie has received cards from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia and Germany.

"I'm hanging them on the walls. I've got to come up with another way. My house is not big enough," Fausett laughed.

The cards are a comfort to Addie and her sisters, who are also dealing with the recent loss of their father and Fausett's estranged husband, who passed away on Nov. 29.

"I don't know how to thank everyone. It's amazing to me that they're so giving to somebody they don't even know," Fausett said. "It's not a lot, but that card means so much to Addie."

If you'd like to send a card to Addie, you can mail it to:

Addie and Her Family
P.O Box 162
Fountain Green, Utah, 04632

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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