Review Category : Health

Group Grieving May Help Families Through South Korea Ferry Disaster

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Heart-wrenching photos of families mourning loved ones lost in a South Korean ferry disaster capture what some experts say is a helpful process: group grieving.

At least 25 people are dead and 271 are missing from the sunken ferry, which was carrying 475 people.

More than 300 high school students were among the ferry’s passengers, prompting anger and heartache from crowds of inconsolable parents.

“The more similar the loss, the easier it is to share in a group,” said George Everly, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Md. “But like most things, it’s a double-edged sword.”

While shared mourning can help families cope with an unfathomable loss, it can also amplify the grieving process, according to Everly.

“Those who share a similar loss can be a remarkable support to one another,” he said. “But in the acute phase, the grieving process can escalate by virtue of the group.”

Photos from the ferry disaster, like photos from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, show families uniting in grief as well as outrage toward the authorities.

“Grieving is helped when there is an efficient and effective flow of information,” said Everly. “Grieving is not helped when there is potential human error that caused the loss.”

The cause of the capsized ferry is still unclear, but Coast Guard officials said the boat’s captain was among the first to escape the doomed vessel.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed,” 69-year-old Captain Lee Joon-seok said on Korean television Thursday, his face covered by a gray hoodie.

Relatives of dead students sobbed as ambulances transported bodies from Mokpo, a city near the disaster, to Ansan, a satellite city of Seoul. Meanwhile, relatives of missing students, desperate for answers and hoping for a miracle, gathered at Danwon High School in Ansan for a candlelight vigil.

“The moment it happens, that loss becomes the center of your life,” said Everly. “A healthy grieving process is one that moves that loss from the center of your life to somewhere else.”

Groups can help with that process by gathering to remember those lost, Everly said, citing support groups for those who lost loved ones in Pan Am Flight 103 — the Lockerbie disaster.

“They formed a special bond that I think was helpful,” he said. “Grief is better shared, as long as it doesn’t continue to escalate.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Alexa Ray Joel Opens Up About Collapsing Onstage

Mike Coppola/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Alexa Ray Joel is doing fine since collapsing onstage while singing to a sold-out crowd at New York City’s Cafe Carlyle recently.

“I’m doing fine. I’m great, and I’m standing,” the 28-year-old daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley told Extra on this week.

“I do tend to get a little bit of a low blood sugar drop. I was working shows in a row. You know it happens, singing is a physical act. I think I was just building up my stamina and it was a lot of shows in a row. Hey, life happens.”

Joel was two songs into her set on Saturday night when she lost consciousness. She was taken to the emergency room at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and later released after being diagnosed with vasovagal syncope, a non-serious condition that blocks blood from flowing to the brain and causes fainting, her rep told People.

The singer told Extra: “I really appreciate that everybody has been so respectful and not putting any salacious slant on the whole story.”

She added, “Everyone has been so caring and sweet and supportive. I’m getting all these messages on Facebook and social media of everyone asking how I’m doing. I really appreciate it, it’s helping me actually recover.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Paralyzed UK Veteran Walks Again with Exo-Skeleton

Zoonar RF/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Kevin Ogilvie thought he would never walk again after he was left paralyzed from the chest down in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2012.

Ogilvie, a member of the Royal Air Force Regiment, was injured when the vehicle he was driving hit an improvised explosive device. Ogilvie was left with seven broken and three crushed vertebrae.

In spite of his injury, Ogilvie got to walk again — with some high-tech assistance. At a rehabilitation hospital in Scotland, Ogilvie was able to try out new robot legs made by Rex Bionics.

“It was really cool, but also really strange, to be walking again after so long,” Ogilvie told The Scotsman Newspaper. “It was weird to use, but weird in a good sense, having no feeling or control below my chest made seeing me moving even weirder.”

The creators of Rex Bionics say the device won’t exactly help people run a marathon, but can help people connect in small ways.

“They don’t want to go any faster….They want to get back at eye level,” said Rex Bionics spokeswoman Debra Leeves. “It’s a small thing — everything always happens above their heads.”

The robotic legs were part of a demonstration, but Kevin Ogilvie’s father, Phil Ogilvie, said he hopes his son will be able to use them again.

“The device is still in the development stage but it’s hoped that in four or five years it will be fully operational,” he told The Scotsman.

Ogilvie and his brother are now working to raise £10,000 for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the Soldiers Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association by the end of the year as a way to thank the charities for their help after Kevin’s injuries.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Children’s Dreams Come True One Picture at a Time

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) — Junaisy Vargas, 6, has a lot of wishes in life — No. 4 seems the most impossible.

“I want to be a mermaid. That’s my wish,” she said.

Junaisy of Las Vegas has Ewing’s Sarcoma, a bone marrow cancer that primarily affects children and adolescents.

Most of her hair is gone because of chemotherapy, but for a special photo shoot she put on a wig and entered into a fantasy universe of her own creation.

It was all made possible by Shawn Van Daele, a photographer who turns dreams into reality through The Drawing Hope Project. He visited the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation and photographed several kids.

Click here for more amazing photographs from Van Daele’s project.

Junaisy drew a picture for Van Daele and he turned Vargas into a real mermaid.

His mission is to bring hope and inspiration to everyone who needs it, especially children living with health conditions. He has brought dozens of these fantasies to life. Parents who hear of him reach out through social media. There are lots of superheroes and flyers.

“I just wanted to kind of get the idea out there that anything’s possible — despite what life throws at you — and it’s just really kind of rippled and it’s changing a lot of lives,” said Van Daele.

He works with kids all over his native Canada and the U.S. The kids draw him a picture, imagining where they want to be, and he imagines the rest of it with them.

Sadie Slykhuis, 4, has Cone Rod Dysfunction, a disease that requires her to be in darkness most of the time.

Sadie, from Fenelon Falls, Ontario, hoped to bask in the brightest sunlight, so Van Daele took her drawing of a butterfly under a bright sun and gave her wings, letting her fly among the sunflowers.

The project started years ago when there was illness in Van Daele’s family.

“I did it to cheer my dad up while he was sick and I started to realize, I could do this for other families,” Van Daele said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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FDA Warns Against Hysterectomy Technique That May Spread Cancer

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — A Boston couple behind a campaign to stop doctors from performing a controversial surgical procedure is applauding a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning against doctors performing the procedure, called laparoscopic power morcellation.

The FDA wants doctors to stop using laparoscopic power morcellation during the removal of the uterus or uterine fibroids since it poses a risk of spreading unsuspected cancerous tissue beyond the uterus.

The procedure involves a small metal device that shreds tissue, in this case fibroids or the uterus, which is then removed through a small incision in the abdomen. The surgical technique came under scrutiny last December after two cases came to light in which the women undergoing the procedure had undetected cancer cells spread through their body during the surgery.

One of those cases involved Dr. Amy Reed, 41, an anesthesiologist at Beth-Israel Hospital in Boston. Reed underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy morcellation last fall. During the procedure undetected cancer cells were spread through her abdomen. A few days after her surgery she was diagnosed with a stage IV cancer called leiomyosarcoma.

According to the FDA statement, approximately 1 in 350 women who are having a hysterectomy or myomectomy (to remove uterine fibroids) have an undetected type of cancer called uterine sarcoma. The morcellation of this tissue could lead it to spread throughout the abdomen.

Since her diagnosis, Reed and her husband Hoorman Noorchashm, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, have launched a campaign to get doctors and hospitals to stop using the procedure, including a Change.org petition with nearly 8,000 signatures, and meeting with politicians and writing to different gynecological and surgical organizations in the medical community.

Noorchashm said he has been disappointed with some initial reactions from hospitals and medical staff but called the FDA decision a “major step forward.”

“The major accomplishment is going to be 10 years from now when Amy is cancer-free,” said Noorchashm. “What helped here was the sheer magnitude of the truth here…I just didn’t stop. I’ve been generating somewhere between three to ten emails a day since November.”

Since Reed’s diagnosis, two medical articles have been published in the Journal of American Medical Association questioning the safety of the procedure.

“The FDA’s primary concern as we consider the continued use of these devices is the safety and well-being of patients,” said Dr. William Maisel, deputy director for science and chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “There is no reliable way to determine if a uterine fibroid is cancerous prior to removal.”

In a statement, the FDA confirmed that Noorchashm brought the issue to their attention last December.

“After further discussion, we involved staff from across the agency to look into the issue further,” The FDA told ABC News in a statement.

At least two Boston hospitals have changed their approach to the technique in the last few months, although they still would allow some morcellation in rare cases, and they were investigating the use of encasing tissue in a plastic bag before morcellation.

The FDA will hold a committee meeting to see if encasing tissue in a bag before morcellation can be a safe alternative. Noorchashm points out the bag can easily break if it comes into contact with the morcellation device.

Noorchashm, who is a cardio-thoracic surgeon, said he has been in touch with many other families who have had similar experiences and wants more regulation on medical devices in general to protect patients. Although he said he was gratified by the FDA’s decision, he said more still needs to be done to protect patients, including more oversight and medical transparency.

Since Reed’s disease has stabilized, Noorchashm said she plans to return to work as an anesthesiologist in June in Philadelphia, where they can be closer to extended family. While Noorchashm plans to continue with his work drawing attention to the danger of morcellation, he says he hopes to get back to normal life soon.

“It’s a diagnosis where it hangs over your head. Failure is not an option, we have six kids with bright futures,” said Noorchashm. “I‘m going back to normal and I’m going back to work.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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School Flier Counsels Kids Not to Rat Out Bullies

Ziviani/Thinkstock(LINCOLN, Neb.) — A Nebraska elementary school has apologized for passing out a flier containing nine questionable rules for dealing with bullies. Rule No. 7 is “Do not tell on bullies.”

Josh Mehlin, a parent who has children in the Lincoln Public School District, told ABC News that the letter did not go home to all Zeman Elementary School students — only some fifth-graders — but it quickly spread as flabbergasted parents started sending it to each other.

“I was horrified,” Mehlin said. “I called the school and said, ‘Is this for real or is this kind of an Internet thing?’ They said, ‘This is for real. We sent this out.’”

When he called the district office, however, administrators said they’d never heard of it. So he believes it may have originated with just one educator, Mehlin said.

The district has since issued an apology, explaining in a statement on its Facebook page that the flier contained “inaccurate information.”

“The flier was sent home with good intentions, unfortunately, it contained advice that did not accurately reflect LPS best practices regarding response to bullying incidents,” a letter that went home to parents reads.

The school has now created a new flier, which is posted on its website, concluding, “Asking for help is not ratting!”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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What Led to Former “DWTS” Co-Host’s Cancer Diagnosis

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Months before former Dancing with the Stars co-host and ET correspondent Samantha Harris received a diagnosis of breast cancer, the TV personality had a mammogram and got an “all clear” from her doctor.

The mother-of-two said it was a “gut feeling” that the lump in her breast was something more that led her on a months-long journey of tests and doctors.

“It took me four months to go, ‘This doesn’t sit right with me,’” Harris, 40, told ABC News’ Amy Robach. “Four months later, when I went to see my specialist, I had a needle biopsy, after two ultrasounds, and I had an MRI right before we scheduled a lumpectomy.”

“Even the pathology they do in the operating room said no cancer, so I came out and my husband, right next to me, said, ‘Babe, you’re all clear,’” Harris said. “I didn’t even take him to the follow up because I thought I didn’t have cancer.”

Harris was alone in her doctor’s office when she received the news that she did, in fact, have breast cancer.

“I started to realize that they kept saying the word ‘Carcinoma,’” Harris said. “That means cancer, so I guess I have cancer.”

“Then the tears welled up in my eyes and it wasn’t until the surgeon left the room that all I wanted to do was crumble into my husband’s arms.”

Harris said she decided to have a double mastectomy to treat her cancer because it “came down to percentages” and the double mastectomy gave her the “best chance.”

Foremost in Harris’ mind when making the decision, she says, were her two daughters with husband Michael Hess: Josselyn, 6, and Hillary, 3.

“It puts you in a completely different place when you’re a parent and you have a diagnosis like this because you think of all the things you want to make sure you’re present for,” Harris said. “I lost my dad to colon cancer and he was just 50 and to have him not present when I got married, when I had my first daughter, then my second, has been really hard for me.”

“I always think in the back of my mind, ‘I don’t want to not be there for my kids,’” she said.

Harris says she and Hess together told each of their daughters the news separately so that they could “tailor” what they told them to make it age-appropriate.

Harris said she is now receiving support from the “sisterhood” of breast cancer patients and survivors, including ABC News’ own Robach, who is currently battling breast cancer, and Robin Roberts, who has beat both breast cancer and, more recently, myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS, a rare blood disorder.

“I have to tell you,” Harris said, “reading your story and Robin’s gave me so much inspiration and gave me hope that I too will get through this as you are currently doing and as Robin has, and be stronger and a better person on the other side.”

“This is a sisterhood that you never want to be a part of but the women I have met through this already are incredible women,” Harris said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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How Christina Milian Co-Parents with Ex-Husband

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Christina Milian is a chart-topping R&B and hip-hop star best known for hits like “Dip It Low” and her star run on Dancing With the Stars. It is a much more personal role, however, that means the most to Milian: being a mother to 4-year-old daughter Violet Madison Nash.

When Milian teamed up with the parenting blog Momtastic last month to share her motherhood experiences, it was a blog she wrote on co-parenting that struck a chord with other moms.

“I feel like I’m in a good place, then all the better to just put it out there and hope that it can help someone else,” Milian told ABC News of why she decided to make her private life public.

“We all figure it out,” she said. “Sometimes, you just got to take it, take the lesson, and learn, and know that this happened for a reason.”

Milian, 32, divorced Violet’s father, singer-songwriter The Dream, in 2011, when their daughter was just a few months old.

The singer says she gets past the rough points of dealing with a former spouse by allowing herself to pause and remember what’s important.

“I say, ‘Take a second and breathe,’” Milian said. “You know, have the best intentions. Pray on it.”

Milian revealed she also got outside help — in the form of a therapist — to help her learn how to communicate with her ex, whose real name is Terius Nash.

“I think that communication will save you half the drama,” she said. “You know, it makes things so much easier. And I think I learned that.

“My motivation at the end of the day was making sure that my daughter had two parents that were in her life consistently,” Milian said. “She’s a really smart girl and I think she has a healthy understanding of knowing that mommy and daddy are no longer together but we both love her.”

Engaged since last year to Jas Prince, Milian says another important aspect of co-parenting is to know when to introduce a new partner to your child.

“I think it’s very important to take your time when introducing a new person into your child’s life,” Milian said. “You want to make sure this is going to work out so you’re not introducing them to a new person over and over again because you never know who is going to be the one.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Conjoined Twins See Sunlight for the First Time

Medical City Children’s Hospital(DALLAS) — A pair of formerly conjoined twins were finally able to go outside and see sunlight for the first time, more than seven months after they had surgery to be separated.

Owen and Emmitt Ezell were born joined from their breast bone to hipbone and shared several organs, including their liver and intestines.

The two infants were separated when they were just six weeks old during a lengthy nine-hour surgery. Originally doctors were simply worried about the twins’ survival and at the time of surgery their medical team estimated the boys had a 40 to 50 percent chance of survival.

However, after months of intensive care the twins are finally healthy enough to leave the hospital for a rehab facility. Their parents Jenni and David Ezell are elated, although Jenni Ezell had to shield her son’s eyes as they were wheeled outside for the first time.

“They couldn’t even open their little eyes,” said Jenni Ezell. “The sun was so bright, I shaded Owen’s face.”

While Owen and Emmitt may look the same, their parents say now the 9-months-old infants are easy to tell apart.

“Emmett is really easy going, laid back,” said the infants’ father David Ezell. “Owen is a little more… little agitated at times.”

While the infants aren’t going home quite yet, there’s a chance they might get to leave the rehab facility within just a few weeks.

“The doctors are cautious,” said David Ezell. “They are not going to come out and say, these are going to be two healthy boys but we will come out and say it for them these are going be two very healthy boys.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Conjoined Twins See Sunlight for the First Time

Medical City Children’s Hospital(DALLAS) — A pair of formerly conjoined twins were finally able to go outside and see sunlight for the first time, more than seven months after they had surgery to be separated.

Owen and Emmitt Ezell were born joined from their breast bone to hipbone and shared several organs, including their liver and intestines.

The two infants were separated when they were just six weeks old during a lengthy nine-hour surgery. Originally doctors were simply worried about the twins’ survival and at the time of surgery their medical team estimated the boys had a 40 to 50 percent chance of survival.

However, after months of intensive care the twins are finally healthy enough to leave the hospital for a rehab facility. Their parents Jenni and David Ezell are elated, although Jenni Ezell had to shield her son’s eyes as they were wheeled outside for the first time.

“They couldn’t even open their little eyes,” said Jenni Ezell. “The sun was so bright, I shaded Owen’s face.”

While Owen and Emmitt may look the same, their parents say now the 9-months-old infants are easy to tell apart.

“Emmett is really easy going, laid back,” said the infants’ father David Ezell. “Owen is a little more… little agitated at times.”

While the infants aren’t going home quite yet, there’s a chance they might get to leave the rehab facility within just a few weeks.

“The doctors are cautious,” said David Ezell. “They are not going to come out and say, these are going to be two healthy boys but we will come out and say it for them these are going be two very healthy boys.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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