Boy, 9, Rejects Further Cancer Treatment

File photo. (Jose Luis Pelaez/Stone)(LOS ANGELES) -- After five years of fighting a rare form of brain cancer, with seven surgeries, four rounds of chemotherapy and two bouts of radiation, 9-year-old Ryan Kennedy told his mother “I’m done with this.”

In February, Ryan’s mother told him about another surgery that doctors said would buy the Clarkston, Mich. native about three more months, but potentially could leave him on a breathing and feeding tube, according to the Oakland Press.

“When I told him about it, he said, ‘No. I told you, Mom, I don’t want to do anything anymore,’” Kimberly Morris-Karp told the Oakland Press. “He literally screamed and cried in hysterics, saying ‘I’m done. I’m done with this.’

“The selfish part of me wanted to say, ‘No, I want you to do this,’ but I said, ‘OK, this is what you want,’” Morris-Karp said. “And we keep asking him over and over again. Once a week, I would ask him the same question: ‘Are you sure you’re OK with this? You don’t want anymore treatment?’ ‘Yup, I’m sure,’” she said Ryan replied.

The decisions to end treatment for children fighting cancers are especially difficult ones to make, said Dr. Lisa Humphrey, director of the pediatric palliative care program at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, because decisions tend to be based in the instinctual place where parents are never supposed to bury their children, she said.

“For Ryan to have the courage to make such a decision and be able to talk to his family about it speaks volumes about the journey that they went on together,” she said. “We know for a fact that children who have life-threatening illnesses mature very quickly in some ways. They’re able to understand what is at stake, and they often have an exquisite sense of what’s going on in their bodies.”

Often times, children with life-threatening illnesses will ask if they’re dying, Humphrey said. But, in many cases, they won’t ask their parents. Instead, they’ll ask an aunt, a family friend or a nurse.

“They know what’s going on with their bodies and they’re curious and want to check in, but in a way, the child wants to protect the parent a much as a parent wants to protect their child,” Humphrey said.

It’s best for parents to be open and act as a sounding board for their child and gauge how much they understand about their illness and potential prognosis, she said.

Each year, about 50,000 children in the United States die from life-threatening illnesses. A 2004 Swedish study found that, out of 300 families who had children who died from terminal illness, about 35 percent of them discussed the pending deaths with their children. The survey showed that not one family regretted discussing death. Of those who did not discuss death with their children, 27 percent of the families reportedly regretted their decision.

Ryan recently became a trending topic on Twitter when it was thought to be his dying wish. Celebrities, including Britney Spears, offered their support for the child.

“Ryan really wasn’t the one who wanted to trend on Twitter — he’s 9 — he doesn’t have a Twitter account,” Morris-Karp told CNN. “He really didn’t even know what Twitter was.”

Doctors say Ryan will not likely make it to his tenth birthday on May 24.

“[I will] rub his feet, help him with whatever he needs,” his mom told CNN. “I just plan on being there and just loving him through this.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Quadriplegic Moves Fingers After Nerve-Stealing Surgery

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis(ST. LOUIS) -- A 71-year-old quadriplegic man can move his fingers after surgeons "stole" healthy nerves from his arm and rerouted them to his hand, according to a new case study.

The man, whose name has not been released, crushed his spinal cord at the C7 vertebrae in the base of his neck in a 2008 motor vehicle accident.  The injury severed the nerve circuits that would send signals from his brain to the muscles in his hands, but it spared nearby nerves that could be coaxed into taking over.

"It's called nerve transfer surgery," said Dr. Ida Fox, assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Washington University in St. Louis.  "It's borrowing a nerve that's still working and displacing it into a nerve that isn't working."

People with C7 spinal cord injuries can't move their hands, but they can move their shoulders, elbows and wrists, thanks to nerves that originate above the injury.  To tap into those healthy circuits, Fox and colleagues cut the nerve that controlled the man's brachialis, an arm muscle that helps bend the elbow.  They then attached it to the non-working nerve projecting out to his hand with a tiny stitch the size of a hair.

"We had to sacrifice something that's 'sacrificable,'" said Fox, describing how the biceps and other elbow-bending muscles would pick up the brachialis' slack.

Over six months, the nerve, which is no thicker than a strand of angel hair pasta, grew six inches along the old non-working nerve, reaching the hand muscles at the end.  And with intense physical therapy, the man learned to move his fingers with the nerve that once bent his arm.

"The brain has to be trained to think, 'OK, I used to bend my elbow with this nerve, and now I use it to pinch,'" said Fox.  "We're not changing any of the biomechanics; we're just changing the wiring.  So it's more of a mental game that patients have to play with themselves."

The case study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Neurosurgery, could give surgeons a tricky tool to help spinal cord injury patients hold onto some independence, Fox said.

"These patients have figured out very clever adaptive strategies to get around the fact that their hands don't do what they want them to do.  But they want to be able to do things more quickly without help," said Fox, adding that patients frequently say they wish they could eat without assistive devices.  "This makes stealing that brachialis muscle worth it."

One year after the procedure, the man is able to feed himself bite-size pieces of food.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Early Biomarker Identified for Pancreatic Cancer

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Scientists at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine have identified a new biomarker for pancreatic cancer.  The finding helps researchers move one step forward in creating therapeutic treatments for the potentially deadly disease.

Pancreatic cancer can grow without symptoms, so the tumor has often advanced in its stage of growth by the time it is found.  It is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute, and newly diagnosed patients have a median survival rate of less than a year, according to the study published Tuesday in the journal Cancer Research.

"We found that a kinase [enzyme] called PEAK1 is turned on very early in pancreatic cancer," Jonathan Kelber, an author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in UCSD's department of pathology, said in a statement.  "This protein was clearly detected in biopsies of malignant tumors from human patients -- at the gene and the protein levels -- as well as in mouse models."

A kinase is an enzyme that helps to regulate cell function, and a biomarker is a general term for a substance in the body that is used to indicate some sort of biological state.  Researchers said the specific biomarker they identified acts as an "on" and "off" switch for cellular function.  It is needed for the cancer to grow and spread.

"This study is just one more piece in the puzzle; however, it is probably just a small piece, but still contributes to our understanding as to what drives pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Aaron Sasson, director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Center of Excellence at University of Nebraska Medical Center.  "The importance in understanding how pancreatic cancer develops is critical if we are ever going to develop effective treatments for this deadly disease."

Dr. Richard Alexander, associate chair of clinical research in the department of surgery at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, praised the research, calling it "a beautifully conducted series of experiments that convincingly show that a protein found in pancreatic cancer cells, PEAK1, has an important role in the progression and spread of pancreatic cancers."

"The authors are to be complimented for the rigor of their scientific work," he added.

Nevertheless, the data are preliminary and were observed under tightly controlled experimental conditions, so the extent to which the biomarkers will be relevant to patients has yet to be determined, Alexander noted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rare Condition: College Student Suffers From ‘Hatred of Sound’

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For Emma Riehl, attending her college classes is a form of torture.  But she doesn’t blame the subject matter or the homework.

Riehl, 19, lives with a rare and still mostly unknown condition called misophonia.  Meaning “hatred of sound,” misophonia makes it difficult to tolerate everyday sounds such as chewing, coughing, even breathing.  Those who have it find the noises so intrusive that they can’t remain in the same area as the person making them.

Unlike people who find these noises merely irritating, people with misophonia have an extreme reaction that often leads to lives of isolation.

The specific sounds of sniffling and chewing make Riehl feel anxious, distressed and violent.  In her video diary, she describes her daily struggle to overcome the rage she feels whenever she hears these “trigger” sounds.

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Unable to participate in the typical college social scene, she lives alone and constantly wears headphones.

There is no cure for misophonia, but Riehl believes that eating a healthy diet and keeping to a strict schedule of exercise help her ease the stress caused by her condition.

Although there has been limited research, some experts believe misophonia has a genetic link and could result from a neurological defect.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


High School Students Sign No-Tanning Pledges for Prom

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MAYNARD, Mass.) -- On Friday, students at Maynard High School in Maynard, Mass. made good on an important promise: no tanning before this year's prom.

Many of the students signed a pledge in February that they would skip the tanning bed and sunbathing before prom this year in an effort to reduce their risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

Allison Bosse, the high school senior who organized the pledge, said convincing everyone to flaunt their pale skin was no easy task.

"Our school is known for a lot of people tanning.  Kids start in March because they want to be tan in their dresses for prom," she said.

Bosse said the pressure for students to get a golden glow is so great that freshmen start visiting tanning beds even though they don't go to the prom.

Bosse said she wanted to educate her classmates about the dangers of tanning.  She set up tables at lunch and started asking for people to sign the no-tanning pledge.  Of the school's 283 seniors, 209 signed the pledge.

"A couple of people said 'I like tanning too much, I can't sign that.  I won't get skin cancer,'" Bosse said.  "But it seemed like a lot really listened and weren't going to do it anymore."

The pledges taken at Maynard High School are part of a growing trend at high schools around the U.S., aimed at educating students about the connection between tanning and skin cancer.

Rates of melanoma have been rising steadily among young adults for the past few decades.  In April, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that rates of melanoma increased by a factor of more than six from 1970 to 2009, and the rates were highest among young women. 

Though any exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the risk of melanoma, experts believe the rise is linked to widespread use of tanning beds among teenagers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Women Look in a Mirror at Least Eight Times a Day

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Women continually check their appearance throughout the day in mirrors or any surface that shows their reflection.

While that's not a particularly shocking revelation, a study in Britain’s Daily Mail of 2,000 women does suggest that all that mirror-checking goes on more than anyone imagined.

For instance, the study conducted by Simple Skincare finds that women look in the mirror an average of eight times daily, with half saying they wouldn’t leave the house without some kind of mirror and one in 10 admitting they check their compacts no less than 10 times a day.

Not surprisingly, the most common reason given for all this reflection-watching was for hair or make-up touch-ups.

What is surprising is how much women detest looking in the mirror.  Seventy-five percent say they hate it, while almost one in four believe it has a bad impact on their self-confidence.  Most blame it on the social pressure for women to look attractive while men don’t have to be as concerned with their own looks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Technology Makes Dating Tougher for Men, Survey Finds

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Dating used to be so simple for men.  All they had to do was figure out something to say and get the courage to call their intended date on the phone.

But that's not the case anymore.  TSB magazine says what ties guys up in knots these days is what to say in a text when seeking a date.  In fact, a third of the men in the TSB survey admitted that coming up with the right text message frustrated them the most in trying to ask a woman out.

Next on the list of what gives men sweaty palms in today’s dating scene is carrying on an interesting conversation with a pretty girl they recently met.  Twenty-two percent said this was their biggest concern, while 12 percent in the TSB poll had qualms about simply approaching a woman they’ve had their eye on.

Then there’s that moment about whether or not it’s appropriate to end a first date with a kiss.  Eighteen percent say that's their biggest dating fear.

Other anxieties included 10 percent with the fear of women seeing them more as a friend than a love interest, and 6 percent worried about "hitting it off with a woman only to have her shift her interest to someone else."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hell Hath No Fury Like…Ex-Wives?

Michael Bezjian/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Reality TV star Brandi Glanville admits she wanted to “kill” singer LeAnn Rimes, who ran off and married Glanville’s ex-husband, Eddie Cibrian, and now acts as stepmother to Glanville’s children.

“I thought I was going to physically hurt her,” said Glanville, in an interview with Radar Online, after Rimes turned up at soccer games to see Glanville’s boys, Mason, 8, and Jake, 5, play.

“I remember walking up to soccer practice and there she was with my baby in her lap,” said Glanville, one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  “My blood was boiling, and I thought I was going to kill her. I really thought I was going to physically hurt her....She was sitting in my soccer chair, under my tent. She’s got my kid on her lap, and she’s with my husband, and that was that little moment of total irrational fury.”

In a culture in which half of all marriages end in divorce, stepchildren and half-siblings and the interplay of emotions between wives can wreak havoc on a mother’s feelings, said Judy Kuriansky, a psychologist and relationship expert at Teachers College at Columbia University.

“It’s really a normal feeling, but the obviously normal response is not to say it,” said Kuriansky. “But the feeling is common -- anger, resentment, the sense of betrayal, and to have to deal with the emotions on your own.

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” she said. “You want to get rid of the woman who sabotaged you.”

Glanville was married to Eddie Cibrian for eight years before he had an affair with Rimes while filming the Lifetime movie Northern Lights in 2009. First there were denials, but then came the incriminating photos. The two soon divorced their respective spouses and married each other in 2011. Rimes had been married to Dean Sheremet.

“This is what movies and TV shows are made of,” said Kuriansky.

Real-life jealousy does, indeed, make for great fictional drama. On the latest episode of AMC’s Mad Men, wife No. 1 Betty Draper stirs up trouble with wife No. 2 Megan Draper after her three children spend a weekend at Don Draper’s lush Manhattan apartment.

Betty, who is unhappily married and has ballooned up from her model figure, spies lean and sexy Megan in a state of undress while picking up her children.  Back at home, Sally asks for help on a family tree project and Betty reveals that Don had a third wife. “Ask Megan about it,” she tells Sally, cryptically.

Confused and feeling betrayed by not knowing the truth and feeling as if she’s been used as a weapon by her mother, Sally lashes out at all her parents for keeping secrets.

Both the real housewife Glanville and the fictional character Betty Draper see the new, beautiful family unit replacing the crumbling old one.

“The family looks so happy with the good-looking husband and the children in tow,” said Kuriansky. “That would press anyone’s button.”

But, she warns, parents should take care not to suck their children into the angry vortex.

“And it’s not just mommies, but daddies, too,” Kuriansky said. “Any parent who sees another treating their children as their own would act the same way. It’s territorial and anthropological.”

“It’s normal to have the mama bear feeling,” said Kuriansky. “Anyone who gets near, you want to kill, especially if the [step-mother] is really close....But it’s always the children who suffer, because they are torn. Be careful not to use them as weapons. In a healthy environment, the parents work it out.”

As for Don and Betty Draper, tune in next week to see how their rivalries get resolved -- or escalated.

But for Glanville, she admits that she is no longer so upset with Rimes.

“We’re never going to be best friends,” she told Radar Online. “But she’s good to my kids. They love her, and that’s all I could ask for. If they didn’t like her, I’d be in court right now, fighting. It’s not about me -- it’s about them.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sarah Hyland’s Secret Struggle With Kidney Disease

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Haley Dunphy, the big sister on Modern Family, Dunphy appears carefree, spending hours on her cellphone and giving her parents a rough time on the show like any other teenager.

But Sarah Hyland, the 21-year-old actress who plays Haley on the show, has had anything but a carefree life.  Hyland’s been struggling with kidney disease since childhood, when she was diagnosed with abnormal kidney development at the age of nine.

“I would be in a lot of pain a lot of the time. If I didn’t get, like, 12 hours of sleep, It felt, like -- It felt, like, none at all,” said the Manhattan-born actress.

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A secret to the millions of Modern Family fans, Hyland would often sit down or text on her phone during a scene to hide her exhaustion.

“You know, if you’re sick, you still go to work.  And in between takes, you sit down, or you lay your head down or something,” she said.

As the pain got worse, the actress began looking for an organ donor to avoid spending her life on dialysis.  Luckily her father, actor Edward James Hyland, was a perfect match.

Last month, she underwent the transplant surgery and will recover this summer while the show takes a break from filming.

Actress Julie Bowen, who plays Claire Dunphy on the show, has been stopping by to help her clean.  Her real-life and on-screen boyfriend, Matt Prokop, has been helping her recover as well.

Hyland offers hope and advice for those struggling with kidney disease: “Know that you’re not alone.  Even though it may seem like it a lot of the time.  And that if you ask, ‘Why me?’  Well, why not you?  You know?  It makes you the person that you are today.”

Hyland is a youth ambassador for the Lopez Foundation, where she helps to promote community awareness for organ and kidney donation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sophia, Jacob Most Popular Baby Names of 2011

David De Lossy/Digital Vision(WASHINGTON) -- Sophia made its debut at the top of the most popular baby names for girls in America in 2011, knocking Isabella out of the top spot. For the thirteenth year in a row Jacob was the most popular male baby name.

The top ten list for both girls and boys names released by the Social Security Administration were virtually identical to 2010, with one major exception. The boy name "Mason" appeared in the top ten for the first time, pushing Anthony out of the popular Top 10 club.

Top Boy Names:
1. Jacob
2. Mason
3. William
4. Jayden
5. Noah
6. Michael
7. Ethan
8. Alexander
9. Aiden
10. Daniel

Top Girl Names:
1. Sophia
2. Isabella
3. Emma
4. Olivia
5. Ava
6. Emily
7. Abigail
8. Madison
9. Mia
10. Chloe

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio