5 surprising facts about colon cancer


Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among cancers that affect both men and women— some 93,090 new cases are expected in 2015 alone. But there’s a good chance you don’t know the signs of colon cancer, how often you should be screened, or what puts you at a greater risk.

Knowing these basics and some of the lesser-known facts about colon cancer could help keep you and those around you healthy.

1. People frequently overlook colon cancer signs and symptoms.

When colon cancer is detected early, the survival rate is relatively high. But too frequently, the signs and symptoms are ignored.

It can take 10 to 15 years for abnormal cells and new polyps to develop into colon cancer. This is ample lead time to identify and remove the growths. Colon cancer rates have fallen over the last 20 years, which is attributed largely to better screening practices— but still only about half of U.S. adults age 50 and older follow screening recommendations.

Although the American Cancer Society suggests regular colorectal cancer screenings begin at age 50, those with risk factors like a family history of the disease should speak with their doctors about starting annual screenings at an earlier age. Also talk to your doctor about any of the following symptoms, which could be signs of colon cancer:

• Blood in the stool
• Rectal bleeding
• Cramping, pain or chronic abdominal bloating
• Diarrhea, constipation or “narrow stools” that are outside of the norm for you and continue for more than a few days
• Feeling the urge to have a bowel movement, but not being relieved after doing so
• Unexplained weight loss, fatigue and weakness

READ MORE: How much does chemotherapy cost?

2. Your doctor may miss the signs.

Even if you identify the symptoms of colon cancer, there’s a risk you’ll be misdiagnosed. According to a 2014 study, one in 20 American adults are affected by a misdiagnosis. And though colon cancer misdiagnoses are relatively rare, affecting 0.007 percent of U.S. adults annually, the potentially fatal outcomes make the few diagnostic mistakes that do happen all the more important.

Research shows different diagnostic methods often have different results, and your doctor may simply misread a test result or underestimate the seriousness of your symptoms. If you have concerns about your diagnosis, or lack thereof, don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion.

READ MORE: This guide can help you find a second opinion.

3. Rates are higher and outcomes worse for certain populations.

Half of all premature colon cancer deaths are linked to disparities in race, education and geography, according to the American Cancer Society. Research has shown a higher incidence of death among colon cancer patients who are racial minorities, have only a high school education or less, or live in the South.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggests if all colon cancer patients experienced the lowest death rates of the most educated, white colon cancer patients, there would be nearly 8,000 fewer premature deaths every year nationwide.

READ MORE: Your colon cancer screening may be free under the ACA

4. Colon cancer risk is tied to red meat consumption.

Multiple studies have linked a higher incidence of colon cancer to a diet rich in animal proteins, and especially red meat. A 2005 European study that tracked 478,000 men and women found those who ate about five or more ounces of red meat per day were about 33 percent more likely to develop colon cancer. That same year, researchers in the U.S. found red and processed meat consumption to be linked to an increased risk of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer.

It’s important to note that these studies found correlations, not causation. In other words, they didn’t prove red meat causes colon cancer, merely that the two may be linked. On the other hand, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains may help lower your risk, so redistributing portion sizes on your plate may be in order.

READ MORE: How eating healthy can save your health and money

5. IBD and type 2 diabetes put you at increased risk.

If you suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or type 2 diabetes, you are at a greater risk of developing colon cancer.

IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the colon. This inflammation can lead to dysplasia, or abnormal cells, that can become cancerous over time.

Likewise, people with Type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk. Much of this is due to shared risk factors for diabetes and colon cancer, like obesity, but even after accounting for these factors, the higher rate remains. The overall health of Type 2 diabetics also means that they have a worse prognosis once diagnosed with colon cancer.

For both of these diseases, officials recommend colon cancer screenings start earlier and happen more frequently.

Colon cancer is preventable

Many of the risk factors for colon cancer are within your control. From maintaining a healthy weight to eating right and watching for abnormal symptoms, you can reduce your risk of getting the disease, and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome thanks to early intervention. Even when you have a family history or a risk factor like IBD, regular screenings can identify polyps before they become cancerous.

Man survives being stabbed in head with scissors


(Central European News)

A man who was stabbed in the head with scissors during a bar fight politely asked hospital staff for help before losing consciousness, Central European News (CEN) reported.

Jonas Acevedo Monroy, 32, was in his local bar in Chihuahua, a city in northwestern Mexico, when Miguel Angel Rodriguez Armendariz, 30, tried to wind him up. When Monroy— nicknamed “The Gentleman” for his good manners— didn’t take the bait, Armendariz allegedly began getting aggressive and abusive.

“Jonas offered to buy the man a drink but the guy pulled out a pair of scissors from his jacket and stabbed him in the head,” Monroy’s friend, Nandor Altamirano Carvajal, 30, told CEN.  “What he was doing with a pair of scissors in his pocket I don’t know, it was really shocking.”

Armendariz fled the bar and Carvajal helped his bleeding friend to the car and drove him to the hospital.

“Staff were very surprised when the two walked in and the man with the scissors in his head shook the receptionist’s hand and said he seemed to have a small problem and would the receptionist mind helping him,” a hospital spokesman told CEN. “At first we thought it was some sort of joke, but then he fainted and we rushed him into emergency.”

Monroy had been stabbed in the upper-left side of his skull and the scissors had penetrated his parietal brain lobe.

A police spokesman told CEN they arrested the alleged assailant and he is currently in custody.

Ever wake up and think you see a ghost? Here’s what’s happening


An actress dressed as a ghost scares people entering a “haunted school” during a Halloween celebration at a mall in Manila Oct. 31, 2012. (REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo)

It was an ordinary night, but Salma, a 20-year-old student at The American University in Cairo, had a particularly frightening experience. She woke up, unable to move a muscle, and felt as though there were an intruder in her bedroom. She saw what appeared to be a fanged, bloody creature that looked like “something out of a horror movie,” standing beside her bed.

She later explained her experience to researchers who were conducting a survey about sleep paralysis, a common but somewhat unexplained phenomenon in which a person awakens from sleep but feels unable to move. Up to 40 percent of people report experiencing sleep paralysis at some point in their lives, and a few, like Salma, hallucinate shadowy intruders hovering over them.

“Sleep paralysis can be a very frightening experience for some people, and a clear understanding of what actually causes it would have great implications for people who suffer from it,” said Baland Jalal, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego.

Researchers say that sleep paralysis happens when a person awakens during a stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM). People in this stage of sleep are usually dreaming, but their muscles are nearly paralyzed, which might be an evolutionary adaptation that keeps people from acting out their dreams.

It is harder to explain why a subset of people who experience sleep paralysis feel a menacing figure in their room or pressing on their chests. [Senses and Non-Sense: 7 Odd Hallucinations]

One possible explanation could be that the hallucination is the brain’s way of clearing out confusion, when there’s a disturbance in the brain region that holds a neural map of the body or the “self,” according to a recent article that Jalal and his colleague Vilayanur Ramachandran, of UC San Diego, published in the journal Medical Hypotheses.

“Perhaps, in part of the brain, there’s a genetically hardwired image of the body — a template,” Jalal told Live Science. Previous studies have suggested that such a region may be a part of the parietal lobes, which are situated in the top-middle part of the brain.

It is possible that during sleep paralysis, the parietal lobes monitor the neurons in the brain that are firing commands to move, but aren’t detecting any actual movement in the limbs, which are temporarily paralyzed. This may lead to a disturbance in how the brain builds a sense of the body image, Jalal said. The appearance of a bedroom intruder could result when the brain tries to projectthe person’s own body image onto a hallucinated figure, he said.

This idea, though intriguing, would be very difficult to test, Jalal said. One way to gather evidence showing whether this is what is happening inside the brain during sleep paralysis would be to test people who have different body images. For example, if this idea is true, people who are missing a limb might hallucinate figures who are missing the same limb, Jalal said. Still, people with such different body images are likely a small subset of the population, and it would be difficult to conduct such an experiment, he said.

What’s so frightening about sleep paralysis?

It’s also possible that people’s differing experiences of sleep paralysis are due to differences in their cultural beliefs. Previous research has suggested that certain ideas found in people’s cultures could shape how they experience certain phenomena, Jalal said.

For example, in a 2013 study published in the journal Cultural, Medicine, and Psychiatry, Jalal and his colleague Devon Hinton, of Harvard Medical School, looked at the rates of sleep paralysis, and the amount of stress that people felt because of the episodes, among people of two different societies: Egypt and Denmark. They found that, compared to study participants in Denmark, the Egyptians experienced sleep paralysis more frequently, and had more prolonged episodes that were accompanied with a greater fear of dying from the experience. [Top 10 Spooky Sleep Disorders]

“These are two very different cultures; Egypt is very religious, whereas Denmark is one of the most atheist countries in the world,” Jalal said.

Most of the Danish participants said they thought sleep paralysis was caused by physiological factors, brain malfunctioning or sleeping the wrong way, whereas the Egyptians were more likely to believe that sleep paralysis is caused by the supernatural.

In another survey, about half of the Egyptian participants from that study said they thought their sleep paralysis was inflicted by a jinn, a ghostlike, menacing creature from Islamic mythology, according to the study, published in the journal Transcultural Psychiatry in 2014.

Jalal and his colleagues concluded that people with such supernatural beliefs tend to experience more fear during sleep paralysis, as well as longer episodes of it. It is even possible that the fear actually contributes to an increase in the person’s severe episodes of sleep paralysis, and vice versa, Jalal said.

“If you have fear, the activation in fear centers in the brain might mean more likelihood of fully awaking during sleep paralysis, and experiencing the whole thing,” Jalal said. “And by experiencing it, you would have more fear — and then, you have all these cultural ideas of what it is added as well, and now you are even more scared of it.”

Jalal said he thinks finding a scientific explanation for sleep paralysis could help people who have particularly frightening and stressful episodes because they’ve culturally learned to attribute it to supernatural beings.


Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Texas center offering innovative treatment for veterans with traumatic brain injuries

  • carrick662.jpg

    Dr. Cagan Randall monitors a patient undergoing OVARD therapy treatment. (Carrick Brain Centers)

For many men and women serving in the armed forces, the battle does not end when they return home. Such was the case for Sgt. First Class Andrew Marr, whose career as an Army Special Forces Green Beret explosive breacher was brought to a premature end.

The nature of his work, which began in 2006 and included three tours in Afghanistan, placed Marr in and around numerous explosions and caused him to suffer multiple traumatic brain injuries (TBI), eventually leading to his military medical retirement. When he returned home to his wife and five children in Washington, he was a changed man.

“I would just have these bouts where I would be overcome with emotion and I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t control it,” Marr told FoxNews.com. He began suffering from insomnia and distancing himself from his family and friends. For Marr, who said he suffered from no symptoms prior to 2013, the answers did not come easily.

“Constantly agitated, finding myself irritable and that would turn into a burning rage, which was very uncomfortable to deal with, especially when you don’t want to be feeling like that and you try to turn it off and it won’t turn off,” he said while describing his symptoms.

According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, more than 27,000 new medical diagnoses of TBI were made in 2013. Nearly 314,000 cases of TBI have been diagnosed since 2000, with the Army’s number of instances far outpacing other branches of the military.

Marr was placed on medication, and he began drinking heavily. Under the impression that the medications were adding to his symptoms or possibly creating new ones, Marr turned to online research to find alternative ways to heal.

Through America’s Mighty Warriors, Marr was put in touch with the Carrick Brain Center, and within 10 days he was in Dallas getting ready to begin his two-week healing journey. The center, which opened its doors in January 2014, treats both civilians and veterans, but does not accept insurance. Veterans’ treatments and expenses are covered under research contracts or private donations, while civilians pay out of pocket for treatment.

“We started with professional athletes, TBI, then we branched out to Alzheimer’s and stroke patients,” Kara Williams, director of veterans and military affairs at Carrick Brain Centers, told FoxNews.com No prior diagnosis is needed for post-9/11 veterans seeking treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and TBI.

Patients are enrolled for two weeks and undergo three treatments per day which include mental health counseling and physical workouts with a local UFC champion. There are also fishing and camping trips offered for weekend activities.

“We want to reintegrate these guys into civilian society as productive members who are maintaining employment,” Williams said. Of the 140 veterans the center treated in 2014, about 65 percent were Special Forces.

The therapies offered at Carrick focus on rewiring the brain in order to restore functionality to different areas of the brain. Each patient is offered a customized treatment plan which includes vision exercises, diet guidelines, supplements or hormones. The Carrick center also offers its patented Off Vertical Axis Rotational Device (OVARD) therapy, which provides neurological rehabilitation.

The patient is fastened into the OVARD, which rotates the patient in a precisely controlled manner. The specific angle, roll and speed of the rotations are targeting the patient’s vestibular system which controls balance, spatial orientation and movement. The movement stimulates the vestibular system to encourage neural activity in parts of the brain that have been affected by illness or injury. The rotations are pre-determined by diagnostic testing on the patient.

“If you can’t stimulate that [injured] part of the brain, other parts won’t work as well,” Dr. Cagan Randall, founder and head clinician at Carrick Brain Center told FoxNews.com.

“The way that you interpret gravity is 24/7, even when you’re asleep you’re constantly having to maintain balance and posturability helps you push your eyes into certain directions, helps you not get motion sickness,” Randall said. “It’s a very important system and if you damage it, it needs to be rehabilitated with sensitive therapy,” he said.

Marr did not undergo OVARD therapy during his time at Carrick, but he did undergo extensive diagnostic testing, and was told most issues were stemming from astigmatism in his eye and his eye movements. He was given sensorimotor therapy and worked on eye movement exercises to stimulate neglected areas of his brain, and to stimulate different parts of his body that weren’t communicating effectively.

The exercises included subtle whole-body movements, such as turning his head a certain way. For about three days, some symptoms worsened, but after Marr said it was “basically non-existent.”

“It worked really well,” Marr said of his time at Carrick in October 2014. He noticed immediate changes in his sleep habits, and he hasn’t touched alcohol since arriving at Carrick.

“My short-term memory has greatly improved from where it was, from that I was able to start feeling better and thinking clearer so I took myself off of all of the different medications I was on and that stuck,” he said.

“When I was there they made it very clear to me that my alcohol consumption was killing me as much as anything else,” Marr said. “For the first time they really made it clear what I was doing with my body.”

Marr has also noticed other areas of his health improving, as well, after his time at Carrick. Before he left, he was experiencing deep vein thrombosis and embolic aneurysms. He had poor circulation in his left foot and leg, which through the eye movement therapies has been corrected.

Marr credits the Carrick center with “changing my life and or saving it as well.”

There is currently a waiting list for veterans seeking treatment due to a lack of funding. Marr started the Warrior Angels Foundation to raise both awareness and funds.

“We need people to step up and help us, the foundations are irrelevant, the issues are real,” he said.

Georgia boy receives ‘Star Wars’ themed prosthetic arm


 (The Augusta Chronicle.)

A 7-year-old “Star Wars” fan is now sporting an Imperial Stormtroopers-themed prosthetic arm, thanks to an international movement that aims to provide greater access to prosthetics, The Augusta Chronicle reported.

According to the report, Liam Porter, of Augusta, Ga., was born without part of his left arm. The organization e-NABLE put Porter and his family in touch with John Peterson, who created the themed prosthetic using a 3-D printer. E-Nable is a hand and arm printer that is striving to connect people in need of prosthetics with advanced technology.

As Porter was leaving a local Regal Cinemas, two Clone troopers escorted him to a private room, where “Star Wars” characters and his brand-new arm were waiting for him.

“Oh it was wonderful,” Porter’s mother, Ryan, told The Augusta Chronicle. “I wasn’t sure how he would react. I didn’t know if he would be very excited, or very quiet and overwhelmed. He was quiet, which is a little funny for him because he always talks.”

The video shows Porter grinning and trying on the arm for the first time. He uses the hand to clutch a plastic cup, while the “Star Wars” characters, part of the Georgia garrison of the 501st Legion, applaud. They then present him with a “Friend of the Garrison” certificate, and Porter later puts on a troopers helmet.

“May the force be with you,” they tell him.

As of Thursday afternoon, the video had over 209,000 views on YouTube.

Click for more from The Augusta Chronicle.

Lillian Grace’s story: The case for removing half of a baby’s brain


 (Courtesy Sandra Salerno)

When Sandra and Neal Salerno welcomed their second child, a girl named Lillian Grace in December of 2011 – the blue-eyed, blonde-haired little cherub seemed the picture of perfection. But less than two years later, the couple were faced with an impossible decision when doctors suggested removing half of their daughter’s brain to save her life.

“By the time she was 6-months-old, she wasn’t reaching milestones,” Sandra Salerno of Houston, Texas told FoxNews.com.

One of those milestones was the size of Lillian’s head, which was measuring small for her age – a condition called microcephaly. But because Lillian was born four weeks early, the Salernos had largely written off her abnormal head size until she began to undergo early intervention physical and occupational therapies, and her limitations became more apparent.

So at 8 months old, the Salernos took Lillian to a pediatric neurologist for MRI scans of her head. The worried parents’ fears were confirmed when they saw the results.

“We just knew looking right away that something wasn’t right because the right side of her brain was way smaller than the left side,” Sandra recalled. “And that’s when [the doctor] told us that Lillian had a condition called polymicrogyria, and that it encompassed 90 percent of the right side of the brain.”

Polymicrogyria is a developmental malformation of the brain marked by an excessive number of small folds in the tissue. It can cause neurological problems, epileptic seizures, developmental delays, vision loss and muscle weakness or paralysis.

Depending on the severity of the condition, it can be treated with medication or surgery.

Finding the cause

For the most part, Sandra’s pregnancy with Lillian Grace seemed normal until she experienced a placental abruption at 36 weeks, and the baby was delivered via emergency C-section.

“While we were home with what we thought was a healthy child, this virus was just attacking her hearing and her brain.”- – Sandra Salerno, mother

By the time she was 10 months old, Lillian Grace had already received the diagnosis of polymicrogyria, but doctors at the time told the Salernos that the condition could be something genetic. After tests failed to find any genetic link, Sandra noticed something else seemed amiss with her infant daughter, so she started doing some research.

“She wasn’t looking over or responding to me when I was talking to her on her left side,” said Sandra. “I started Googling hearing loss and polymicrogyria, and what popped up was CMV — I had never heard of it before.”

CMV refers to cytomegalovirus, which is a common viral infection  that can affect almost anyone without symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can spread from person-to-person through contact with bodily fluids, and can be dangerous as an active infection in pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.

“CMV is the most common virus most people have never heard of,” Dr. Gail Demmler, an infectious disease specialist and CMV researcher at Texas Children’s Hospital told FoxNews.com. “Most of the time, when their babies are diagnosed with CMV, mothers haven’t heard of it – but it’s also a virus that every woman should know about.”

Sandra recalled a time at the beginning of her second trimester when she got sick, was not gaining proper weight and was feeling generally fatigued. Doctors diagnosed her with bronchitis and she eventually went on three different courses of antibiotics to try and rid her body of the infection. But after doing her research, she wondered whether she had been misdiagnosed.

“CMV can affect the liver the spleen the bone marrow, lungs, heart, but the most devastating thing it can do is damage the brain,” said Demmler. “It causes brain damage, vision impairment, hearing loss … but it can affect any organ system.”

Armed with this knowledge, Sandra took Lillian Grace to her pediatrician for a hearing test which confirmed she was suffering from profound hearing loss. At Sandra’s insistence, she was also tested for CMV infection which yielded a positive result.

“For six months, we lived under the cloud of not knowing and thinking she was fine,” Sandra told FoxNews.com. “While we were home with what we thought was a healthy child, this virus was just attacking her hearing and her brain.”

Sandra made an appointment for Lillian Grace to see Dr. Demmler to try and determine whether her daughter had acquired the infection after birth, or if Lillian Grace was the one in 150 children who are born each year in the United States with congenital CMV.

“Sandra is quite a remarkable mom,” said Demmler. “She found me because she was trying to put together why her daughter had polymicrogyria and profound hearing loss, and she found that CMV is a possible cause of both of those.”

Demmler helped Sandra track down the blood spot taken for tests after Lillian Grace was born. In the state of Texas, the blood spot is saved for one year after birth, so the two women appealed for the sample to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for testing.

“All babies, when they’re born at two-days of age, they get a newborn screen for common conditions,” said Demmler. “The tests are sent to state lab and tested for many different diseases, not including CMV.”

The results from the CDC testing proved devastating for Sandra. Lillian Grace’s CMV infection was congenital – meaning Sandra had become infected while she was pregnant and passed the virus onto her daughter.

“I don’t blame it on the doctors that were treating me, it’s kind of going back to the curriculum in medical school – maybe it’s not talked about enough,” said Sandra. “What really kind of upset me is there are in utero treatments that can be done on the pregnant mother – they’re not FDA approved or anything for that use – but they are used off label and have been known to help.”

Demmler started Lillian Grace on antiviral medication, which Sandra credits with halting the progression of her hearing loss. Since then, Sandra and Demmler have been working to have CMV testing added to the newborn screening after birth in the state of Texas.

“I also personally recommend that every woman know her CMV status and ask her OB-GYN for a test,” said Demmler. “If she is antibody negative at beginning of pregnancy, she will know that she is very vulnerable.”

CMV is common among toddlers and school-aged children, so Demmler suggests all pregnant mothers take some precautions.

“Basically if you have an ounce of CMV awareness you don’t share food or drink with young children, don’t kiss them on the face, and wash your hands,” she said. “If you still want to love on your toddler give them a big hug and kiss them on the top of the head.”

Brain, interrupted

For the Salernos, getting a firm diagnosis of Lillian Grace’s condition and learning about how it happened brought some semblance of closure – but unfortunately, it was short-lived.

“We knew she was having seizures but we had no idea about the frequency,” Sandra told FoxNews.com. “By the time she was 18 months old, she was maxing out on three medications and still having up to 300 seizures a day – and a lot of the time it was in her sleep.”

In January 2013, the Salernos took her to see Dr. Michael Quach, a pediatric neurologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, where she underwent a 48-hour electroencephalography (EEG)

“Actually when they came and saw us, she was already having about 25 seizures per hour, so it was kind of shocking on our end,” Quach told FoxNews.com. “At that point, we tried to manage her with seizure medication as best we could, although I did try to bring up to [the family] early on that surgery was a real possibility.”

Fearing Lillian Grace’s condition would continue to deteriorate, Quach and a team of pediatric neurologists took Lillian’s case to an epilepsy specialist conference. The response, he said, was a fairly unanimous vote that Lillian was a candidate for hemispherectomy surgery – or the radical removal of the right side of her brain – and she needed it as soon as possible.

“Counterintuitive as it may seem, you can actually function fairly well with just one half of the brain,” said Quach. “So in her case in particular, we felt very comfortable disconnecting the right side of the brain from the nervous system.”

Lillian Grace had weakness on the left side of her body. At 19 months old, she had not started walking or speaking because of the polymicrogyria and subsequent seizures.

“In the vast majority of people who are right-handed, almost all have the language on the left side of the brain,” said Quach. “In very, very young kids … they don’t tend to pick a side [of the brain] for their language yet.”

Therefore, Quach explained, because young children’s brains have a great deal of plasticity, if you disconnect the side of the brain associated with language skills, the remaining functional hemisphere will pick up the slack. This is not the case with older adults who have already established their language skills, which is one of the reasons doctors push radical hemispherectomies for children like Lillian Grace.

Left untreated, doctors told the Salernos, Lillian Grace would enter a vegetative state.

“Eventually, they said she would die of the seizures if we did nothing,” said Sandra. “So the decision was pretty much made for us, but still heartbreaking for a parent … but without the surgery we wouldn’t have her.”

In August 2013, Lillian Grace underwent the 8-hour procedure at the hands of Dr. Daniel Curry, a pediatric neurosurgeon, and his team at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Surgeons removed part of Lillian Grace’s temporal lobe, down near her ear, to gain access to the fluid-filled ventricles in the center of the brain. From inside the ventricles, they were able to expose the “cables” which connect one side of the brain to the other, and disconnect them.

“The majority of children going through hemispherectomy have a profound improvement in their function: They move better, they think better, frequently, children finally begin speaking,” said Curry. “[Lillian Grace] was a great candidate for this type of procedure because all of her seizures were coming from just one side of her brain … and she was young … so she had all sorts of development that she could reroute and reschedule.”

Lillian Grace recovered in the neurosurgery and inpatient rehab wings for several weeks following surgery, and each day, seemed to show signs of improvement.

[The doctors] told me it could take up to 6 months until she was back to her baseline,” said Sandra. “But she crawled across the hospital room 10 days after surgery, so then we knew she was going to be ok. The staring spells, the twitching – all that was gone.”

The road to recovery

Aside from some peripheral vision loss and weakness on the left side of her body, Lillian Grace’s family have seen only improvements since undergoing the radical procedure.

“Post-surgery, she’s a different child than she was before,” said Sandra. “She’s very active, loves playing with dolls, likes to try to do everything that her big sister does. She’s walking now and tries to do her own little version of running – she never was able to walk before we did brain surgery, so her personality is really started to come out.”

When she’s not running Lillian Grace around for various therapies, Sandra spends time working with organizations like MaddiesMisson.org andStopCMV.org to educate women on the importance of CMV screening.

“To go through what we’ve been through is heartbreaking, but imagine losing your child,” she said. “We’re the lucky ones.”

Man in vegetative state for 12 years wakes up to tell remarkable story


Martin Pistorius was in a physically vegetative state after developing a rare condition. But, much to his parents’ surprise, woke 12 years later to tell that he’d regained consciousness about two years after losing his ability to move and speak. (Photo courtesy Martin Pistorius)

When Martin Pistorius was 12 years old, he came down with a strange illness that caused him to lose his ability to walk, talk and make eye contact, NPR.org reported.

Pistorius, of Harlow, England, appeared to be in a coma-like state, and doctors scratched their heads over his condition. Their best bet: crypotococcal meningitis. They told Rodney and Joan Pistorius, his parents, who were living in South Africa at the time, to take their son home because his time left was limited.

But, his mother said, “Martin just kept going, just kept going.”

Indeed, Pistorius kept going— insofar as his mind stayed active— for 12 years. Although his parents thought he’d been akin to a vegetable physically and mentally, Pistorius, now 39, says he regained consciousness about two years after the condition assaulted his body.

In sum, he still couldn’t speak or move, but he could think, he told NPR.

“Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again,” he told NPR. “The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that— totally alone.”

His mother, unaware of her son’s consciousness, didn’t think he could process anything she said.

One day she recalls uttering to him, “I hope you die.”

“I know that’s a horrible thing to say,” she told NPR. “I just wanted some sort of relief.”

The lives of the Pistorius family centered around caring for Martin. NPR reported that Rodney Pistorius would wake up at 5 a.m. every day to get his son dressed and take him to a special care center.

“Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores,” Rodney told NPR.

During those days, Martin Pistorius learned to numb his mind. His thoughts were his only companion, and they weren’t kind to him. “No one will ever show me tenderness,” he thought. “No one will ever love me.”

Disengaging from his mind involved thinking of absolutely nothing, he told NPR. “You simply exist. It’s a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish.”

But he couldn’t banish all of his thoughts. The popular TV show “Barney,” for example, aired on loop in the special care center where Pistorius’ father left him.

“I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney,” Martin told NPR.

Pistorius later learned to reframe thoughts regarding statements like his mother’s.

“As time passed, I gradually learned to understand my mother’s desperation. Every time she looked at me, she could see only a cruel parody of the once-healthy child she had loved so much. ”

And, after Pistorius began feeling again, his physical movement and speech— just as his mind had so many years before— eventually revived.

Today, he is married to his wife, Joanna, and living in Britain.

Learn more about Pistorius’ story on his website or by reading his new book, “Ghost Boy.”

Click for more from NPR.org.

19-year-old girl wakes up during brain surgery, asks doctors ‘How’s it going?’


Iga Jasica, 19, of southwest Poland, woke up during a procedure to have a cancerous growth removed from her brain, The Daily Mirror reported. (Photo courtesy CEN)

A teenage girl in Poland woke up during brain surgery and asked her doctors how the operation was going, The Daily Mirror reported.

Iga Jasica, 19, had been undergoing the procedure to have a cancerous growth removed from her brain. Doctors say she woke up halfway through the surgery when the anesthetic wore off. Her brain was exposed, but surgeons say the southwest Polish girl’s health was not in jeopardy.

“Despite coming round, she didn’t feel anything and was never in danger,” neurosurgeon Dawid Larysz told The Daily Mirror. He added that Jasica wouldn’t  have been able to see or feel anything. Jasica doesn’t remember waking up during the surgery.

Doctors are investigating whether the anesthetic may have been improperly administered. Other experts told The Daily Mirror that the operation itself could have triggered her waking up despite the anesthetic.

While chatting with doctors during the procedure, Jasica reportedly brought up cats. After the surgery, she reflected on the experience.

“I missed Christmas because of this operation, but it is the best present I could have had, as I am now feeling great,” Jasica told The Daily Mirror when the procedure was complete.

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Surgeons remove 80 teeth from boy’s jaw


A team of surgeons in India removed 80 teeth from the upper jaw of a 7-year-old boy on Friday, TimesOfIndia.com reported.

The patient, who was not named, went to the doctor’s office five days before the surgery. After investigating his condition, doctors diagnosed him with odontoma, a tumor originating from a tooth and containing dental tissue. The abscess measured about 2 by 1.4 inches and took nearly four hours to remove.

Doctors noted that the procedure was difficult because the condition causes the jaw to become weak, thus increasing the chance of fracture.

“Teeth-forming cells in such a large number are not found in kids of this age group,” Dr. Ankit Khasgiwala, who helped perform the surgery at Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital in Indore, told The Times of India. “Had the patient visited us four years later, at least 200-odd teeth could have developed.”

Live Science previously reported on a  17-year-old Indian boy whose complex odontoma prompted surgeons to remove 232 teeth from  his mouth in July.

Odontomas are the most common type of odontogenic tumors, comprising about 22 percent of all of this kind of tumor diagnosed by dentists and oral surgeons, according to Live Science. A 2011 paper in the Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects, suggests that erupting odontoma is rare, and that the first case was reported only in 1980.

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Man jolts back to life minutes before cremation


 (Central European News)

Just moments before his resurrection, the seemingly lifeless body of Deepak Singh, 72, was sprawled out on a funeral pyre as grief-stricken relatives mourned their loss, Central European News reports.

The man’s grandson Banda Nalwa was convinced that his grandfather died when he collapsed while tending his cattle.

A local doctor was called and confirmed Singh’s death.

Preparations were made to give the man a proper send-off. His siblings were getting ready to ignite the wooden funeral pyre when Singh shockingly jolted back to life.

He had apparently heard the family’s death wail — a custom in India of saying farewell to a loved one — from beyond the grave, according to CEN.

Click for more from the New York Post.