Review Category : Health

Mother’s Dying Wish Granted After Her Nurse Takes in Her Son

Courtesy of Tricia Seaman(HARRISBURG, Pa.) — When Tricia Somers was given the devastating diagnosis that she had terminal liver cancer last spring, her main concern was figuring out who would care for her 8-year-old son, Wesley.

Somers, a single mother, didn’t have any family she believed could take on caring for a child and her parents had died years earlier. But Somers was determined and has found a unique solution for her situation after asking her favorite nurse, Tricia Seaman, to care for her son.

Somers made her big request the day she was supposed to be discharged from the hospital. Somers and Seaman had become friendly while Somers underwent numerous diagnostic tests.

When Seaman visited Somers on her final day in the Pinnacle Health’s Community General campus in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, she had no idea of Somers’ intentions.

The long-time nurse told ABC News that after Somers said that her diagnosis was terminal, she asked one question.

“She said, ‘If I die will you raise my son?'” recalled Seaman.

Seaman said she initially had no answer for the big request.

“I didn’t know what to say in that moment,” said Seaman. “I told her I was flattered enough [that she] asked me. I said to her, ‘Why don’t you take a little time with this.’ …I was trying to be very diplomatic, everything in me said was saying ‘Yes I’ll do it.'”

Seaman and her family had actually been in the process of becoming foster parents and had just accomplished the first step after they were approved to be adoptive parents. They also are the parents of three teenage girls and a 10-year-old son.

Somers, who is now in hospice, spoke to ABC News affiliate WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, about her decision to ask Seaman to take care of her son.

“She came in and I just felt this overwhelming feeling of comfort,” Somers told WHTM-TV. “It was strange. I never had that feeling before and I thought she is going to take care of me. She is the one.”

Seaman said after the request, she and her family started to visit with Somers and Wesley, first going to her apartment and then inviting them over to see their house. She said she wanted to make sure that this placement seemed like a good fit.

“The first time she was here, I said, ‘Does everything look okay to you? Is it what you had in mind?'” said Seaman. “I felt like I was interviewing. …She said it was perfect.”

When Seaman spoke to her husband Daniel about the idea of adopting Wesley, he simply told her, “We need to do something to help this lady,” Seaman recalled.

As Seaman and Somers became closer, 45-year-old Somers started grueling chemotherapy that left her barely able to walk. Some days she was unable to get Wesley to school because she couldn’t walk to her car or was too tired to get out of bed.

Eventually she became so weak she was hospitalized.

At that point, Seaman along with her family decided it was time to not only take Wesley into their family, but Somers as well.

“At one point I said, ‘I can’t be your nurse anymore. I’m your family now,'” said Seaman. “I talked to her and said I want you to come [home]. She kind of fell apart and cried. She said, ‘I’d love to.'”

Seaman said when Somers arrived in May, doctors thought she would survive for only a month. But with care and time, Seaman said Somers has improved and can now walk without the help of a cane.

Seaman said she and her husband have signed paperwork to become Wesley’s legal guardians after Somers’ death. This summer, the entire family, Somers and her son included, were able to go on vacation together.

“We just want to Trish to live life to the fullest and…we love her and love Wesley,” said Seaman. “He’s a very smart little boy. We want to see him get an education and be successful and know that he’s not alone. He has a family. He’s not going to be all by himself.”

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One in Three Americans Would Save Smartphone Before Pets in a Fire

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Pets are cherished members of many American families, but apparently not as cherished as smartphones in some households.

When researchers asked 2,673 American adults what they would save first if their house was on fire — aside from family members or other people — 31 percent gave their smartphones a higher priority than family pets and cash.

Of those people who would save their smartphone first above all else, 65 percent said they would do so because there was “too much on their phone to lose.”

Another 12 percent admitted they would go for their smartphone first because it would be the closest thing at hand. The participants were able to choose from a list of possible answers.

The study was conducted by vouchercloud.net.

Here are the top 10 items people would save in a fire:

  1. Smartphone – 31 percent
  2. Pet(s) – 18 percent
  3. Cash – 13 percent
  4. Jewelry – 11 percent
  5. Tablet device -10 percent
  6. Wallet/purse/handbag – 5 percent
  7. Photos – 4 percent
  8. Laptop – 3 percent
  9. Desktop computer – 3 percent
  10. Keepsakes – 1 percent

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One in Three Americans Would Save Smartphone Before Pets in a Fire

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Pets are cherished members of many American families, but apparently not as cherished as smartphones in some households.

When researchers asked 2,673 American adults what they would save first if their house was on fire — aside from family members or other people — 31 percent gave their smartphones a higher priority than family pets and cash.

Of those people who would save their smartphone first above all else, 65 percent said they would do so because there was “too much on their phone to lose.”

Another 12 percent admitted they would go for their smartphone first because it would be the closest thing at hand. The participants were able to choose from a list of possible answers.

The study was conducted by vouchercloud.net.

Here are the top 10 items people would save in a fire:

  1. Smartphone – 31 percent
  2. Pet(s) – 18 percent
  3. Cash – 13 percent
  4. Jewelry – 11 percent
  5. Tablet device -10 percent
  6. Wallet/purse/handbag – 5 percent
  7. Photos – 4 percent
  8. Laptop – 3 percent
  9. Desktop computer – 3 percent
  10. Keepsakes – 1 percent

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A Blood Test to Diagnose Depression?

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Doctors usually rely on patient self-reporting to treat depression, but researchers at Northwestern University say a simple blood test may one day allow physicians to diagnose major depressive disorder.

When the researchers examined nine biomarkers in the blood of test subjects, they noticed a significant discrepancy in levels among people who had MDD and those who did not.

The researchers say three of the markers can be used to determine which type of depression therapy might be most effective for a specific patient.

Because depression is diagnosed after an evaluation by a psychiatrist or primary care physician, the researchers suggest a blood test may help avoid diagnostic uncertainty which can often lead to a delay in identification and treatment.

Medical experts not involved with the research note that the Northwestern University study only involved 14 patients with 14 controls. The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

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American Waistlines Continue to Grow

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — In this era of triple bacon cheeseburgers, 48-ounce sodas and double-stuffed-crust pizzas, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that American waistlines are getting bigger.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average American waist size increased more than an inch — from 37.6 inches to 38.8 inches — between 1999 and 2012.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers studied 32,816 men and women ages 20 and older and found that while men’s waists increased less than an inch — about 0.8 of an inch on average — women’s midriffs grew about twice that, or 1.5 inches.

Waistlines larger than 35 inches for women and more than 40 inches for men are considered abdominal obesity.

Based on their waist circumference, 54 percent of Americans were abdominally obese in 2012, up from 46 percent 13 years earlier.

Abdominal obesity is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol.

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Male Pattern Baldness Linked to Prostate Cancer

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Men with male pattern baldness just got something new to worry about besides a lack of hair.

A new study published in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests men with male pattern baldness may face a higher risk of developing an aggressive type of prostate cancer than guys who are not going bald.

Study co-author Michael Cook, an investigator at the National Cancer Institute, is quick to point out that the study only found an association between male pattern baldness and aggressive prostate cancer. There’s no proof of cause and effect.

Male pattern baldness is a form of hair loss that starts when the front hairline as well as the top of the back of the head begin to recede.

Dr. Charles Ryan, an associate clinical professor with the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says male pattern baldness develops as a result of “a cumulative, lifelong exposure to testosterone in the skin.” Ryan says testosterone also drives prostate cancer.

Researchers studied some 40,000 men between 1993 and 2001, when they were between 55 and 74 years old, and asked them about their level and type of hair loss at age 45. During a follow-up period between 2006 and 2008, the researchers found more than 1,100 men had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Nearly 600 of them developed aggressive prostate cancer.

Men who recalled having a specific type of male pattern baldness — in the front and, moderately, around the crown of the head — were 39 percent more likely to develop an aggressive form of prostate cancer than men who had no baldness.

Other types of baldness were not linked to the development of aggressive or other types of prostate cancer.

“It is conceivable that, in the future, male pattern baldness may play a small role in estimating risk of prostate cancer and may contribute to discussions between doctors and patients about prostate cancer screening,” says Cook.

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One in Three Americans Would Save Smartphone Before Pets in a Fire

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Pets are cherished members of many American families, but apparently not as cherished as smartphones in some households.

When researchers asked 2,673 American adults what they would save first if their house was on fire — aside from family members or other people — 31 percent gave their smartphones a higher priority than family pets and cash.

Of those people who would save their smartphone first above all else, 65 percent said they would do so because there was “too much on their phone to lose.”

Another 12 percent admitted they would go for their smartphone first because it would be the closest thing at hand. The participants were able to choose from a list of possible answers.

The study was conducted by vouchercloud.net.

Here are the top 10 items people would save in a fire:

  1. Smartphone – 31 percent
  2. Pet(s) – 18 percent
  3. Cash – 13 percent
  4. Jewelry – 11 percent
  5. Tablet device -10 percent
  6. Wallet/purse/handbag – 5 percent
  7. Photos – 4 percent
  8. Laptop – 3 percent
  9. Desktop computer – 3 percent
  10. Keepsakes – 1 percent

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Man Survives Rare Cancer Thanks to New ‘Targeted’ Therapy

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — James “Rocky” Lagno was so sick that doctors only gave him about a year to live. Having been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer, even aggressive chemotherapy and radiation didn’t prevent the New Hampshire native’s tumors from growing larger.

To top it off, he was also diagnosed with thyroid cancer and then, several months later, a MRI revealed a dozen brain lesions.

“The oncologist told me I should probably think about getting my bucket list together,” Lagno, 53, recalled of the 2011 conversation he had with his doctor.

Fortunately for Lagno, his wife, Geralynn, lobbied for a biopsy that uncovered a rare genetic mutation linked to lung cancer. Once discovered, Lagno was entered into a clinical trial to test out a relatively new approach to cancer treatment known as molecular targeted therapy.

Traditional cancer drugs are indiscriminant, attacking not just cancer cells but every living cell in the body. Molecular targeting agents like the one Lagno received — which are no longer experimental and are being used with increasing frequency — are designed to target specific cancer mutations, explained Mayo Clinic cancer researcher Elaine Madris.

“Many cancers revolve around novel proteins that are highly active and constantly stimulated so that the growth of cancer is stimulated,” Madris said. “These new targeted drugs seek out these novel proteins and shut them down.”

In Lagno’s case, the therapy seems to have worked. The real estate agent has been taking two pills of the drug Ceritinib daily for the past three years and, while his tumor isn’t entirely gone, it hasn’t grown or spread either, he said.

Lagno’s remarkable turnaround is no longer unique, researcher Madris said. Ceritinib was approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year along with four other similar drugs, she added. It’s now widely used to treat lung cancer patients in hospitals all across the country.

“Many patients will now get this sort of drug in the first round of treatment even before chemo or radiation,” Madris said.

Because gene sequencing has become so much simpler and commonplace, more and more tumor varieties are identified every year, Madris said. This allows pharmaceutical companies to create drugs with more precision.

As a result, the FDA has trimmed back many of the longer, more expensive trials so drugs are reaching the public faster than ever before, she said.

“For some type of cancers, you’re seeing these new therapies replacing traditional cancer treatment like chemotherapy and radiation,” Madris said, adding that the new drugs are more effective in many cases than older treatments and carry far fewer side effects.

Targeted molecular therapy (also known as genomic medicine) has led to significant breakthroughs for many cancers. As Madris pointed out, some kinds of lung cancers and melanomas that would have been considered deadly less than a decade ago now have a better than 75 percent cure rate with this treatment.

In the near future, perhaps five years, medicine may be truly personalized, Madris said.

“There may be a time when you will be given a drug or a combination of drugs designed to treat your illness based on your unique genetics,” she said.

Even though personalized medicine isn’t quite a reality, Lagno said he thought this was a hopeful moment for anyone who is a cancer patient like him.

“Ten years ago my wife would have been a widow,” he said. “To think that I can take two pills a day and be alive is a miracle.”

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President Obama to Unveil Expanded Ebola Response

Bumbasor/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — President Obama plans to unveil Tuesday an expanded U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the worst outbreak of the disease in history.

Obama, who has called the outbreak a national security priority, will outline new steps to address the crisis during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

According to senior administration officials, the ramped up military effort centers on command and control, logistics, training and engineering support.

They new steps include:

  • Creating a joint force command headquarters in Monrovia, Liberia. By end of the week, the U.S. will have a general officer in place to lead the effort, known as “Operation United Assistance.”
  • Providing engineers to build treatment units — up to 17 separate facilities with 100 beds each.
  • Training support for health care workers, up to 500 health care workers per week, for as long as needed (although budgeting plans for a six-month period). Training will come from U.S. military medical personnel. The administration hopes to have force on the ground in a couple of weeks. After this scaling up is done, the expectation is for there to be up to 3,000 Defense Department personnel on the ground in support of the joint force command.
  • Working to boost a messaging campaign to train households on how to protect themselves and help family members that may present symptoms. To pay for the mission, the administration is asking for $88 million be added to the CR; $175 million has already been dedicated. The Defense Department has requested the reprogramming of $500 million in unobligated funds to be put towards the Ebola response.

As of Sept. 7, there were 4,366 probable, confirmed and suspected cases in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with 2,218 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The countries affected are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

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Does Your Family Play Favorites?

iStock/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) — The Smothers Brothers comedy routine always included Tommy Smothers feeling hurt and complaining to his brother Dick that “Mom always liked you best.” Well, a new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology shows that some families do play favorites, and it can have a negative future impact on children.

Alex Jensen, a professor at Brigham Young University and the lead author of the study, examined perceived preferential treatment among different types of families and categorized those that weren’t close to one another as “disengaged families.”

Jensen looked further at the disengaged families and found that children who considered themselves slightly less favored were almost twice as likely to use alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs.

And the study found that if a child’s perception of not being the favorite was even greater, they were nearly four times more likely to abuse substances.

“With favoritism in disengaged families, it wasn’t just that they were more likely to use any substances, it also escalated,” Jensen said in a press release. “If they were already smoking then they were more likely to drink also. Or if they were smoking and drinking, they were more likely to also use drugs.”

On the opposite end, the link to abuse of substances didn’t exist at all in families that took a strong interest in one another. The bottom line: happy kids make for happy adults and a happy family.

Jensen suggests that parents who know they play favorites should make a strong effort to show all their kids more love than they already are.

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