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She Received the Worst Surprise On Her Birthday: Turning Tragedy Into Triumph.

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It’s not uncommon to get a surprise on your birthday. But this was one surprise Stacy Hurt did not want. “I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer on my 44th birthday,” she says. “Growing up, I was always an athlete. I played tons of sports.

I was always healthy.” She had no common risk factors for the condition, which include being overweight or obese, older than 50, physically inactive, a heavy smoker and/or drinker, and having a personal or family history of colorectal cancer. Hurt was a normal weight. She wasn’t the typical age. And she was extremely busy working full-time as Vice President of Training and Development at a pharmaceutical company in Pittsburgh, and raising her sons, Griffin and Emmett.

Now 10 years old, Emmett was also a surprise. Hurt says there were no warning signs during her pregnancy that he would have a rare chromosomal abnormality. He was born severely disabled, without the ability to walk, talk, or feed himself. “He has several special needs and a nurse that takes him to school,” Hurt says.

“I always say that we need an Alice from The Brady Bunch. We do it all. My mindset was that I really needed to stay healthy for my kids.” So despite her hectic life, Hurt ate healthfully and continued to work out. But in September 2014, her health took a sudden turn.

“I started to feel like crap,” she says. “I was experiencing rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fatigue. I thought it was the wear and tear of caring for Emmett and working.” These early symptoms, such as a simple change to ordinary bowel habits, are often easily missed, says David Greenwald, MD, director of clinical gastroenterology and endoscopy at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

“Rectal bleeding in the young is often dismissed as having come from hemorrhoids,” Dr. Greenwald says. “Sometimes prolonged but unexplained abdominal pain or discomfort may be a sign of colon cancer, although there are many causes of this.” Hurt’s husband insisted she see a doctor, and her doctor said he wasn’t going to mess around with her symptoms.

“He said he was sending me for a colonoscopy,” Hurt recalls. “The tumor in my rectum was so large, the doctor could not get the scope around it.” She remembers having a brief moment of confusion. “I thought, I don’t know how this could happen,” she says. “I do everything right. I’m healthy. I’m fit. I eat right.” That thought only lasted a few minutes. Then Hurt entered “fighter mode.”

To find out the stage of her cancer and check if it had spread elsewhere in the body, Hurt had a CT scan, which came back clear. But a physician friend strongly urged her to get a PET scan, as well. A PET scan generally detects abnormalities at the cellular level, whereas a CT scan might only detect a change if the disease has become more advanced. Hurt’s PET scan showed cancer in her liver, lungs, and lymph nodes, in addition to her rectum. She was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. “If I hadn’t had that PET scan, I’d be dead,” she says.

When an ‘Old Person’ Cancer Skews Younger
Hurt is part of a growing group of younger Americans being diagnosed with colon cancer, according to Greenwald. “Most colon cancer occurs in people over the age of 50, but 10 percent of cases are diagnosed in the young,” he says. “While colon cancer rates have dropped for those over age 50, the past decade has seen an increase in the number of colon cancer cases diagnosed in those under 50, some estimate an increase by 2 percent each year.

Much of that increase seems to be in diagnoses of rectal cancer in younger people.” In fact, a January 2015 study in JAMA Surgery found that by 2030, the incidence rates for colon and rectal cancers in people ages 20 to 34 will increase by 90 and 124 percent, respectively, and by 27 and 46 percent, respectively, in people ages 35 to 49.

I thought, ‘I don’t know how this could happen. I do everything right. I’m healthy. I’m fit. I eat right.’ Colorectal cancer is already common: It’s the fourth most diagnosed cancer in U.S. men and women and is expected to kill nearly 50,000 people in 2016, according to the National Cancer Institute.

About 135,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, and approximately 1 in 20 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. And while most people get a colorectal diagnosis when they’re older, this increase in younger diagnoses means you shouldn’t write off changes in the bathroom, no matter your age. “It is wise to see a physician when you have rectal bleeding, noticeable change in bowel habits, unexplained abdominal pain or unexpected or unexplained weight loss,” Greenwald says.

Seeking Integrative Treatment

The week after her PET scan and diagnosis, Hurt met with an oncologist to begin chemotherapy. At the same time, she says she “fine-tuned” her approach to treatment from a nutritional standpoint. “I gave up alcohol,” she says. “I had no dairy, no sugar, low-fat, targeted foods that specifically fought colon cancer.” She had her first scan in December 2014 to see how treatment was going. “I was very lucky,” she says. “I responded very well. My tumor had shrunk from 11 centimeters to 3 centimeters.”

Hurt says doctors added another drug to her treatment right after Christmas that year, and she continued to be a busy working mom. She held a webinar at work during her chemo week, even though she needed multiple glasses of liquid to keep her hydrated and talking. She also continued to care for Emmett with her husband, something Hurt calls “the hardest thing” — despite what happened next.

The Crash and the Comeback
Her tumor had shrunk enough for surgical removal, so doctors resected Hurt’s rectum and liver and also took out a few lymph nodes that came back “negative for cancer,” she says. “It was kind of a miracle. The doctors kept saying it was weird. Great, but weird!” Then, just after surgery, she was recovering in her hospital room when her vitals crashed. “I coded,” Hurt says. “People filled the room. The best way I can say it is that I started to fade. They suspected internal bleeding. I remember the surgeon saying, ‘I will get you through this,’ and I said, ‘I know you will.’ I remember thinking that I did not go through all this with the cancer to bleed out on a cart.”

Hurt woke up to a clock. “I must not be in heaven!” she thought. Doctors discovered what had caused the problem: A robotic arm had nicked a blood vessel during her first surgery. She required several blood transfusions, but she made it through. “Being so strong and healthy saved my life,” she says. “I got out of the hospital on my husband’s birthday.” The family has faced more challenges since the surgery, the biggest being when Hurt’s mother-in-law passed away from cancer last year. “I fight in her honor every day,” Hurt says.

Hurt went back on chemo in June 2015 after she had recovered from the bleed. She had radiation on the remaining spot in her lung a few months later in October, and was finally declared NED (no evidence of disease) on March 1, 2016. She will remain on the chemo indefinitely. But through it all, Hurt has had a deep awareness of all the ways she could turn her struggle into a positive message. “I see so many people in the world who feel defeated by their circumstances,” she says. “I saw a need for hope. Dealing with Emmett, I never understood why. But being diagnosed with cancer, I did. I realized some things just happen. In life, it’s how you deal with it. It’s not the tragedy that defines you, but the triumph.”

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Husband Plants 6000 Trees To Honor Late Wife – 15-Years-Later Photos Reveal True Motive

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Husband Plants 6000 Trees To Honor Late Wife – 15-Years-Later Photos Reveal True Motive

A loving husband spent years planting over 6000 trees to create this incredible heart-shaped meadow as a tribute to his late wife.

Winston Howes and his wife Janet got married in 1962. The couple were very much in love and simply inseparable.

After getting married, the couple, Winston and Janet, moved into a charming farmhouse on 112 acres in the English countryside.

Winston Howes and his beloved wife Janet

Winston Howes and his beloved wife Janet

Not long after, Janet gave birth to their son. The couple had it all, a beautiful family, a love like no other and a flourishing farm.

For thirty three years, they had the perfect life and a bond that most can only dream of. However, things changed. In 1995, at only 50 years old, Janet suddenly passed away from heart failure.

Howes was crushed to say the least. The love of his life was gone.

Read Also: Baby’s Rare Heart-Shaped Birthmark Had Even the Nurses Begging For a Selfie

To pay tribute to his late wife, Winston planted 6,000 oak saplings in a field near the home they had shared for decades.

Howes laid out the trees in a six-acre field but left a perfect heart shape in the middle – with the point facing in the direction of her childhood home.

To pay tribute to his late wife, Winston planted 6,000 trees to create a heart-shaped meadow

To pay tribute to his late wife, Winston planted 6,000 trees to create a heart-shaped meadow

“I came up with the idea of creating a heart in the clearing of the field after Janet died. I thought it was a great idea – it was a flash on inspiration – and I planted several thousand oak trees.” Howes said.

With time the trees blossomed into a mature meadow, a sacred and peaceful oasis where Winston and his son could visit on difficult days. Howes revealed, “Once it was completed we put seat in the field, overlooking the hill near where she used to live. I sometimes go down there, just to sit and think about things. It is a lovely and lasting tribute to her which will be here for years.”

The couple, Winston and Janet Howes

The couple, Winston and Janet Howes

“We planted large oak trees around the edge of the heart then decided to put a hedge around it too. The heart points towards Wotton Hill, where Janet is from. We plant daffodils in the middle that come up in the spring – it looks great. I go out there from time to time and sit in the seat I created.” He added.

For 17 years, Howes’s beautiful declaration of love remained hidden from the outside world until on day in 2012, a hot air balloonist Andy Collett spotted the incredible creation and took a photograph from the air.

With time the trees blossomed into a mature heart-shaped meadow, a sacred and peaceful oasis where Winston and his son could visit on difficult days.

With time the trees blossomed into a mature heart-shaped meadow, a sacred and peaceful oasis where Winston and his son could visit on difficult days.

Collett was so stunned when he discovered the symbol of love hidden among the trees. He said, “I have my own balloon and am quite a regular flyer – but this was the most amazing sight I have ever seen from the sky. It was a perfect heart hidden away from view – you would not know it was there. You can just imagine the love story.”

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86-Year-Old Willie Nelson Saves 70 Horses From The Slaughterhouse To Roam Free On His Ranch In Texas

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86-Year-Old Willie Nelson Saves 70 Horses From The Slaughterhouse To Roam Free On His Ranch In Texas

Country music legend 86-year-old Willie Nelson, is not only incredibly talented, he also has the kindest of hearts. This was proven yet again when he recently saved 70 horses from the slaughterhouse without second a thought.

The singer is usually on the road, but when he isn’t on tour, you can find him on his ranch, where his beloved horses reside, in the Texas Hill Country.

Recently, Willie Nelson rescued 70 horses just as they were about to be sent to the slaughterhouse and then to a glue factory. It’s a terrible fate for these beautiful and majestic animals, but luckily, Willie couldn’t see that happen, so he jumped in and saved the day.

Willie Nelson recently saved 70 horses from the slaughterhouse without second a thought.

Willie Nelson recently saved 70 horses from the slaughterhouse without second a thought.

The horses’ new home is Willie Nelson’s 700-acre property, known as “Luck Ranch”, located in Spicewood, 30 miles from Austin, in Texas hill country.

According to Willie Nelson, who will soon be turning eighty seven, the ranch represents his love of country music as well as his love for horses.

Read Also: Woman Finds Newborn Buried Alive While Out Jogging, 20 Years Later Their Reunion Will Bring You To Tears.

With a ranch that big, the horses have tons of open space to wander and are treated like royalty.

According to The Epoch Times, Willie said, “My horses are probably the luckiest horses in the world. They get hand-fed twice a day, and they were just ready to go to slaughter is probably the last thing they remembered, so they’re happy horses.”

Willie’s love for the animals is well documented in many of his songs. A recent song by Willie Nelson, “Ride Me Back Home,” attests to his love for horses.

Additionally, in 2015, a video by Willie Nelson called “The Love of Horses” won the People’s Silver Telly Award. In the video, Nelson meets members of Habitat for Horses who were working to end the slaughter of horses by trying to get legislation passed.

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Young Girl With Autoimmune Disease Creates Adorable Medi Teddy To Hide Scary IV Bags

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Young Girl With Autoimmune Disease Creates Adorable Medi Teddy To Hide Scary IV Bags

Generally speaking, many kids find hospitals a scary place to be in, and even worse having to look at the equipment lining the hospital rooms. But thanks to 12-year-old Ella Casano’s medi teddy, hospital runs are about to be a little less intimidating.

Ella was only seven years old when she was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP), an autoimmune disease.  ITP occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks platelets which results in bruising and easy bleeding. According to the Mayo Clinic, children typically develop ITP after a viral infection and recover shortly after, but Ella never did.

To combat a low platelet count, Ella has to be in hospital every 8 weeks to receive an IVIG infusion.

12-year-old Ella Casano created medi teddy to make hospital runs a little less intimidating.

12-year-old Ella Casano created medi teddy to make hospital runs a little less intimidating.

However, she just never got used to seeing all the hospital equipment. During one of her hospital visits, she got an idea. The tubes, needles and IV bags look a little scary, so she decided to design something to cover them up and make hospital runs less intimidating.

Ella’s invention, Medi Teddy, is an IV cover shaped like a teddy bear that features a mesh pouch on the back to carry medications and IVs. She used mesh material on the back so doctors can easily monitor medication administration.

Read Also: World’s Smallest Surviving Preemie Released From San Diego Hospital

“When I had my first infusion, I was surprised and a little bit intimidated by the look of the amount of tubing and medical equipment on my IV pole. As I saw more and more children experiencing the same feelings, I became more interested in creating a friendlier experience for young IV patients, so I created Medi Teddy.” she wrote on her website.

Ella currently has a patent for the Medi Teddy and is already in the process of manufacturing the first 500 Medi Teddies.

Ella’s invention, Medi Teddy, is an IV cover shaped like a teddy bear that features a mesh pouch on the back to carry medications and IVs.

Ella’s invention, Medi Teddy, is an IV cover shaped like a teddy bear that features a mesh pouch on the back to carry medications and IVs.

Ella’s mom, Meg, revealed that her daughter was adamant Medi Teddy be a not-for-profit organization, so she could help other kids going through similar experiences.

If you would like to help Ella reach her goal, you can visit Ella’s GoFundMe.

We think Ella’s idea is genius and the fact that she is doing it to help other kids without profit is very inspirational!

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