Topless Bar Tops Bucket List for Teen with Brain Cancer

KATU/ABC News(WEST LINN, Ore.) -- Jake Stoneking's bucket list seems quite reasonable. A hunting trip, a tattoo and a trip to the local topless bar: all doable in the 19-year-old's hometown of West Linn, Ore.

"He put stuff on there that he knows can happen," said Jake's dad, Todd Stoneking. "We know the time's coming. We know it's coming. But he's doing pretty good and we can still do a lot of things."

Jake has medulloblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer. He was diagnosed at the age of 14 after a string of unbearable headaches.

"He had a tumor removed about the size of a golf ball," Todd Stoneking said, recalling the 12-hour surgery in 2009 followed by months of radiation and chemo. "It pretty much took him down to nothing."

Once a 140-pound wrestler with "six-pack abs," Jake withered to 104 pounds throughout the grueling treatment as he re-learned how to walk and eat, according to his dad.

"We thought it was gone," Todd Stoneking said of the tumor in Jake's cerebellum – the brain center for balance and coordination. "They did scans every three months for a year to make sure it was gone. After that they did them every six months, and then once a year. We found out in February it was back."

Back with a vengeance, the tumor stretches from Jake's brain to the bottom of his spinal cord, where his nerves are "matted" with cancer, according to his dad.

"The doctor told us he'd have three months," Todd Stoneking said, adding that Jake is taking two experimental chemo drugs that could buy him an extra year. By Tuesday, the drugs were starting to take their toll.

"They said he would drop down really low Tuesday and then start feeling better Thursday," Todd Stoneking said. "They're going to do two rounds, and if it starts shrinking with these two treatments, they'll go ahead and keep treating him for up to 12 months."

Jake started his bucket list when one night he couldn't sleep, according to his dad.

"He was up late, thinking, 'I want to do this, I want to do that,'" said Todd Stoneking. "We're knocking 'em off as fast as we can and we're adding them in between."

So far Jake has checked five items off the 17-item list, including a helicopter ride and a visit to Jiggles – the local topless bar. Still left on the list: hunting a black bear, laughing until he cries and getting "Stoneking" tattooed on his back.

"It's bittersweet," said Todd Stoneking, explaining how friends are rallying to help Jake check off the rest of Jake's bucket list. "Some 19-year-olds die in car crashes and their parents wish they could have one more day. We're getting lots of one more days."

Todd Stoneking said that Jake is not only his son, he's his best friend.

"It'd be easier if he wasn't," he said through tears. "He's an awesome kid. And I'm not just saying because he's mine. There's something about him, his infectious smile.

"I know what they mean now about heartache," he added with a shaky voice. "It just aches."

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Pharmacist Prescribes ‘Monster Spray’ to Banish Monsters Before Bed

iStock/Thinkstock(WATFORD CITY, N.D.) -- It’s one of the most effective treatments ever prescribed for combating under-the-bed monsters, according to a pair of pharmacists in North Dakota.

Monster Spray, a solution that’s sprayed around the sleeping area before bed in order to vanquish monsters, is the creation of pharmacist Jeff Dodds and his daughter, Josslyn Dodds, employees at Barrett Pharmacy in Watford City.

The Dodds have prescribed the spray to children who report having trouble sleeping due to the perceived presence of monsters at bedtime.

“It’s 100-percent safe and it works amazingly,” Josslyn Dodds told ABC News after a photo of Monster Spray was posted to Facebook by a grateful parent and began going viral. “It really seems to get rid of the monsters."

Dodd wouldn’t say what exactly is in the solution. She said that her and her father came up with the idea after a friend of another employee complained that her daughter didn’t want to go to bed because she was afraid of monsters.

The solution worked, Dodd recalled.

The blue medicine bottle comes with directions from the pharmacy instructing patients to “spray around the room at night before bed. Repeat as necessary.”

Dodd said all the attention Monster Spray has generated by the Facebook photo has been “overwhelming” but positive.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Students Use Prom to Raise Funds for Cancer-Stricken Teacher

Savannah Bendik(DELTONA, Fla.) -- When the students of Pine Ridge High School in Deltona, Fla., kick off their heels and dance at their Roaring ’20s-themed prom this May, they’ll know they have done so for a good cause.

The prom committee of the 1,700-student high school is leading an effort to raise thousands of dollars for a beloved math teacher, Charles Lundell, who was diagnosed in January with liver and lung cancer after beating throat cancer two years ago.

“It wasn’t if we were going to raise money, it was how much money we were going to raise,” junior class president Sierra D’Errico told ABC News.

D’Errico and her fellow prom committee members -- Savannah Bendik, Nick Sutton, Katie Buday and faculty adviser Brenda Burgett -- decided to use whatever they raise in ticket sales on this year’s prom, and donate everything else to Lundell.

So far, that has resulted in more than $7,000 raised, with donations still pouring in daily.

“The response has been fantastic, not just from the school but community,” D’Errico said.  “People are calling us everyday offering to help.

“It gives people a different impression of this generation,” she said of her and her classmates’ efforts.

The teens have raised money through fundraisers like a “Dancing With the Teachers” event, a students-versus-teachers basketball game and a T-shirt sale.

Normally, that money would be paired with the approximately $13,000 typically made in ticket sales to dress up the Daytona 500 Club, where the prom will be held, but not this year.

“Decorations are just decorations,” junior class activities director Nick Sutton said. “We’ll just spend whatever comes in from the tickets.”

Lundell, who has taught at Pine Ridge since the school opened 20 years ago, is the father of two teenage children and is also expecting twins with his wife, Melissa, in June.  The students said the faculty came together to throw the Lundell a “diaper party” to make sure they have all the supplies they need.

“Once you come to Pine Ridge you’re family,” D’Errico said.  “We’re just focused on him getting better and, hopefully, we can do as much as we can for him.”

Lundell, who could not be reached Tuesday, is on a leave of absence from teaching while he undergoes chemotherapy treatments, but is staying in touch with his students.

“He’s more than thankful,” D’Errico said.  “He’s always sending emails saying, ‘Thank you so much,’ and ‘I don’t deserve this.’”

The prom committee has not set a goal for how much they want to raise for Lundell because they don’t want to be held back.

“We are reaching for the stars,” junior class secretary Savannah Bendik said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Family Petitions for Unapproved Drug to Save Son

Josh Hardy, 7, has beat cancer four times, but a virus could kill him. Courtesy Aimee Hardy(NEW YORK) -- Seven-year-old Josh Hardy has beaten cancer four times, his parents said, but now they fear he will die from a virus that causes the common cold.

They say their best hope for Josh’s survival is an unapproved anti-viral drug called brincidofovir, but the company that makes it says it can’t give it to him. So the Hardys have started several online petitions to change the company’s mind.

"Having survived four diagnoses of cancer, it would be an absolute travesty for him to meet his demise from a virus," his mother, Aimee Hardy, told ABC News. "Especially knowing there is a medicine in someone’s hands that can rid of this virus."

Josh received his first cancer diagnosis when he was just a baby: Aggressive rhabdoid tumors in both kidneys, Hardy said. He went through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but the cancer returned in his thalamus gland and then his lung.

Then, after nearly four years of being cancer-free, Josh received bad news in November 2013, Hardy said. He had myelodysplastic syndrome -- the same precancerous bone marrow disorder that ABC News anchor Robin Roberts was diagnosed with in 2012. This can be caused by cancer treatments.

Josh underwent a bone marrow transplant to remedy the disorder, but he developed graft versus host disease -- meaning the new cells started to attack his body, Hardy said.

"He was in complete heart failure and kidney failure and went into the ICU on January 14," Hardy said.

To stop it, Josh’s doctors at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Tennessee suppressed his immune system with drugs, allowing his heart and kidneys to start healing.

But with a weakened immune system, Josh came down with adenovirus, a common virus that causes colds but can also be much more serious, Hardy said.

In Josh’s case, reawakening his immune system to fight the virus could bring back his graft versus host disease, so doctors gave him an antiviral medicine to get rid of the adenovirus. But the drug was toxic to his kidneys and wasn’t working, Hardy said.

"He’s at a physical standstill," Hardy said.

That was when Josh’s doctor at St. Jude suggested brincidofovir, a drug that researchers at Chimerix, a small North Carolina drug company, have been developing for the last 14 years.

St. Jude had been involved in a clinical trial of brincidofovir in which children who had undergone bone marrow transplants and had early adenovirus infections took the drug and were able to decrease the amount of virus in their bodies.

But Dr. Hervé Momméja-Marin, Chimerix vice president of clinical research, said the drug has not been proven to do this in more advanced adenovirus cases -- like Josh’s. Josh has now had his infection for two months.

Chimerex President and CEO Kenneth Moch said giving the drug to Josh would mean they would have to give the drug to the hundreds of other patients hoping to get it under the FDA's compassionate use rules, which allow patients to get drugs even if they aren’t enrolled in clinical trials.

"We all have great compassion for this child," Moch said. "We spent our lives trying to develop new medications for patients just like Josh…We need to make sure to get this drug available as soon as possible to as many people as possible."

New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan said the issue is not merely about a family pleading with a pharmaceutical company. He said the tiny company likely has many things working against it that prevent it from offering its drug to patients outside of clinical trials.

The company likely doesn’t have the resources to develop to a broad compassionate use program, Caplan said, and if it did and patients died -- even of unrelated causes -- that could hurt the drug’s chances of getting approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Chimerex declined to comment on these issues.

“Month after month, these cases come up of families seeking drugs or medical devices in dire circumstances appealing for compassion,” Caplan said. “We’re treating it as if it’s standoff between a desperate family and a little company. It isn’t.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Instagram Star Reveals Exercise Secrets

iStock Editorial(NEW YORK) -- Jen Selter is the self-made social media sensation of the fitness world.

With more than 2.6 million followers on Instagram, more than 653,000 likes on Facebook, and 360,000 followers on Twitter, the 20-year-old is becoming an Internet phenomenon for the fitness poses that highlight her body.

In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, Selter revealed that she’s never had a trainer.

“I would just follow the trainers and when they were training someone I was like, ‘oh, what does that do?’” she said.

She’s been seen around New York City performing her signature move, Seltering, in which she poses on hands and feet and sticks out her backside. Selter said it all started out innocently enough.

“If I was wearing a cute outfit I was like, why not take a selfie?” she said.

One photo in particular started her rise to fame. “I took one of, like a side of my butt in yoga pants and that picture went viral,” she said.

Some of the exercises that make her workouts unique include walking dumbbell lunges, twisted plated squats and donkey kicks -- or fire hydrants.

As for what she eats to maintain such an enviable figure? Well, she eats carbs. And dark chocolate is her guilty pleasure. She also loves cereal, and will eat ice cream with her cheat meal on Sunday.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Woman Grateful Mom Nagged Her into Losing Weight

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If your mother told you that you needed to lose weight, would you freak out? Would it destroy your self-esteem? Would you ever forgive her?

Charlotte Alter, a journalist with Time magazine, said that when she was a 12-year-old middle schooler, her mother told her she could stand to lose three to four pounds.

At first, Alter said she had a meltdown, but then curbed her dessert intake and started a jogging program.  She is now grateful for her mother’s honesty, she said.

In the recent essay she wrote for, Alter said of that long-ago discussion, “Pick your jaw up from the floor and put away your pitchfork, because this nugget of real talk was one of the best things my mother ever did.”

Alter, who lives in Montclair, N.J., said the conversation was the first of many candid exchanges she had with her mother about her weight. She believes her mother’s willingness to face the problem of weight gain head on makes a lot more sense than a “Zen-like acceptance of my body.”

“Eventually, it becomes too exhausting to maintain total acceptance of the way we look, and the ‘self-love’ gets drowned in a wave of self-doubt fueled by everything from the media to the kids at school,” she wrote in her Time piece.

Those talks, Alter said, didn’t seem like a condemnation. They seemed like a reality check, one that set up a lifelong healthy relationship with her body, her weight -- and her mom.

“Good for her. She’s lucky,” said Lynn Grese, the president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association. “She’s one of those people who isn’t susceptible to an eating disorder.”

Criticizing a young girl about her weight can send her spiraling into an eating disorder, especially if she is already depressed, anxious or sensitive about her weight, Grese said. Also, because girls tend to gain one-third of their adult weight between the ages of 11 and 14, it’s difficult to know whether a girl has a weight problem or passing through a baby-fat stage on the way to womanhood.

“Parents should always focus on health rather than weight. If a child truly does have a weight problem, it should be addressed with the help of a medical professional,” Grese said.

Alter, who could not be reached for comment by ABC News, conceded that her mother’s approach wouldn’t work for everybody.

“But being frank about weight loss has helped me stay sane about my body even into adulthood,” she wrote.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Disney Characters Help Autistic Child Emerge from Autism

Courtesy Suskind Family(NEW YORK) -- Owen Suskind was a talkative and lively child until the age of 3, when all that he had learned -- speaking, eating and walking -- began to slip away from him and he retreated into the lonely world of autism.

Over time, Owen became lost in a library of animated Disney movies, rewinding and replaying them, and his parents, journalists Ron and Cornelia Suskind, worried about their son being sucked into the social isolation of the television.

"They vanish in front of you," Owen's father, Pulitzer-winning journalist Ron Suskind told ABC News, which is owned by the Walt Disney Company.

But it was the Disney characters, whose lines and songs Owen could repeat back with ease, that ultimately gave his parents the entryway to his hidden thoughts and emotions and brought him back into the world, he said.

Ron Suskind says that he and his wife were convinced it wasn't "mimicry," because "the movements, the tone, the emotions seem utterly authentic, like method acting."

Now, Suskind writes about his 20-year journey raising Owen in a March 9 New York Times Magazine article, "Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney." The piece is part of a larger book on the so-called "Disney therapy" that the author writes about in his 2014 book, Life Animated.

It was the "sidekick" characters, in particular, that touched an emotional spot in Owen and allowed him to express himself. And even though he couldn't write his name legibly, Owen could flawlessly draw characters like the Mad Hatter and Jiminy Cricket.

"It's often the supporting players in Disney fables who are more varied and vivid," Suskind writes. "Even in the earliest Disney movies, the first sidekicks -- Goofy, Pluto and then Donald Duck -- often carried confusions, frailties, foolishness, pride, vanity and hard-won, often reluctantly learned, insights. The spectrum of complex human emotions is housed with the sidekicks."

When Owen was about 6, Suskind described how he grabbed a puppet of Iago, the parrot from Aladdin, to have one of the first real conversations with his son: "So, Owen, how ya doin'?"

"I am not happy," Owen replied. "I don't have friends. I can't understand what people say."

Using the Disney characters to reach out to their son was like "reversing the telescope," Suskind said. "We really need to embrace the affinity and go the other direction. Let me in with a kind of delicacy."

"What is the subtle substructure of the affinity so I can enter it and get in there and take the therapy to start to reveal to me some maps and navigation to look in their underground cabin?" he said. "I can help them rebuild it and they can advance into the world of sunlight."

Autism affects an estimated 1 in 88 children, about 1 percent of the population ages 3 to 17, according to the Autism Society. Between 1 to 1.5 million Americans are living with an autism spectrum disorder, one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


New Pet Food Options Take a Page from Human Food Trends

mercedes rancaño/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With so many dogs occupying a major status in families these days, more attention is being paid to what goes in Fido's bowl. And increasingly, pet owners are modeling their pooch's diet after their own.

Nutritionist and chef Gayle Pruitt is a two-time author of books on preparing joint meals for pets and humans. Her latest cookbook, Dog-Gone Good Cuisine: More Healthy, Fast, and Easy Recipes for You and Your Pooch, posits that not only is it time- and money-saving to feed a dog the same dinner as yourself but that it's healthier for the animal, too.

"Fresh human grade food for dogs??? What a concept! Saves money in the long run," Pruitt writes on her Facebook page, adding "with less large vet bills."

The tome offers recipes for 100 different human-dog meals, including spinach kale lasagna, curried beef sliders and salmon Florentine.

But Dr. Amy Farcas, a small animal clinical nutritionist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, counsels that altering a dog's diet to reflect what a human feels like eating on any given night could be problematic.

"The nutrient requirements of dogs are somewhat complicated -- there are approximately 40 different essential nutrients -- and are different than human nutrient requirements," said Farcas. "When pets are fed the same meals that their owners eat, the result is usually -- every time I’ve evaluated diets like this -- lacking in essential nutrients for dogs. The same is true for most recipes for home-prepared diets for dogs available to pet owners."

Farcas also cited a recent study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association of 200 home-prepared diet recipes for dogs from the Internet, pet care books, etc.

"In this study, 95 percent of recipes evaluated were deficient in at least one essential nutrient," she said. "Rotation among ingredients and recipes is unlikely to correct these deficiencies because most of the foods used in home-prepared diets for dogs have similar nutritional profiles and therefore similar deficiencies."

Another new entrant onto the pet food market may provide a more consistent alternative.

Innova Nature's Table is a new line of "grain-free, natural" dry pet food and treat recipes sourcing lean proteins, such as farm-raised turkey, cold water salmon, wild herring or ranch-raised bison, and combining them with fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots, and carbohydrates such as lentils and peas.

"We want consumers to feel good about the food they feed their pets,” said Kari Liu, senior scientist in formulation and diet design, in a statement. “Each ingredient found in Nature’s Table recipes serves a specific purpose, like high-quality animal proteins for lean muscle mass, omega fatty acids for a shiny coat, healthy carbohydrates like lentils and peas for sustained energy, and nourishing antioxidants like vitamin E to help promote a healthy immune system.”

While Farcas argued that there is no research suggesting that grain-free diets are superior or inferior to those that include grain, she did state that lean cuts of meat from any source of protein are always preferable. Alternative proteins, such as bison, are typically chosen to prevent and combat adverse food responses in dogs.

But what if you are living a meat-free lifestyle and want the same for your pet? In that case, you will need to focus your search. But vegan dog bakeries do exist.

Boston Baked Bonz offers organic and animal-free cookies and treats for man's best friend. The handmade goods range from peanut butter crunchies to wheat-free cranberry clove muffins to quinoa cookies and gingerbread snaps. And you don't have to live in Beantown to let Fido indulge. Orders are available online too.

Farcas told ABC News that vegan treats are fine for dogs.

"Use of vegan food items as treats is acceptable for most dogs," she said. "Like any other treats, these should be given in moderation, with treats not exceeding 10 percent of a pet’s total calorie intake."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Advanced Cervical Cancer: Trial Therapy Offers New Hope

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(RIO DE JANEIRO) -- Researchers have made great strides in early detection and prevention for cervical cancer, the third-most common cancer in women, including the HPV vaccine. But with all the progress, there are still thousands of women with advanced disease, and the five-year survival rate for late-stage cervical cancer is 15 percent. That number may now climb dramatically, if the results of a trial for Erlotinib, now in its second phase, proves typical.

The standard care for advanced cervical cancer is chemo-radiation and Cisplatin, a nonspecific drug. Erlotinib, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor, is a type of biologic medication targeting growth receptors in the cancerous cells -- they can’t grow and cancer recedes.

For the study, which is published in the journal Cancer, Brazilian researchers at the Instituto de Cancer in Rio de Janeiro conducted a small trial in 36 women with Stage II and III cervical cancer (which now has a survival rate of 40 percent). After 77 weeks of treatment, all but two patients saw a complete disappearance of the cancer. At two and three years out, 92 percent and 80 percent of women survived, respectively.

Side effects of Erlotinib were generally manageable with patients experiencing mostly rashes and diarrhea.  

According to the study authors, this is the first study to show that a target agent has promising activity against locally advanced cervical cancer. Still, more research is needed as the data presented in the trial is only preliminary.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Happy Couples Share 6 Common Habits

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Newlyweds looking to build a lasting foundation, take note: A new survey reveals that the secret to a happy marriage is not just one thing, but possibly six.

After interviewing 10,000 couples in 110 countries around the world, bestselling author of Happy Wives Club Fawn Weaver has identified six practices that happy partners have in common. Some you might not expect.

6. Put Marriage Before Children
"This is controversial but it was a common denominator among these couples," said Weaver. "According to them, it was just common sense," adding that as children leave for college and to begin a family of their own, parents risk being left with an emptied nest akin to "an overdrawn bank account."

5. If the Bond is Solid, Sex will Follow
According to Weaver, the topic of sex only came up once in passing during her myriad interviews with international couples. "We place a lot of stock in this one thing but these couples made it clear if you take care of the relationship, this will take care of itself," she said.

4. Spirituality Can Be a Stabilizer
While, "the couples may not have all agreed on who or what they believe God to be, all believed in a higher power," said Weaver. "They had a healthy fear of disappointing that higher power in relation to their spouses." Similarly, a 2001 report in the Journal of Family Psychology found that in 120 couples studied, celebrating religious holidays together had helped to cement and re-establish their beliefs over the years and further bonded their marriages.

3. Rituals Enhance Romance
From coffee together in the morning to a cocktail every night before dinner, each of the couples interviewed maintained a ritual for decades. "[This is] something that is just for the two of them and they maintain it every day," said Weaver.

2. Divorce Is Not an Option
Or, as Weaver puts it, "there was no Plan B. Each couple decided at the outset that they would subtract divorce from the equation," she said. "This led to a much greater level of patience with each other."

1. Aretha Had it Right
The number one answer to a happy marriage, according to Weaver's survey, is "mutual respect," she said. Sometimes that respect can even extend to the need to sleep in separate beds.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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