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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.”

Health

Young Girls Who Met In Hospital Reunite For “Survivors” Photo-shoot

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Young Girls Who Met In Hospital Reunite For “Survivors” Photo-shoot

Two years after beating cancer, four young girls reunited for a celebratory photoshoot, and the pictures are all sorts of incredible. McKinley, Chloe, Ava, and Lauren, were all diagnosed with cancer and were treated at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

The little girls all had different types of cancer, but they all met when being treated in the same ward. The four instantly became very close friends and spent as much time with each other as they could while going through treatments.

Lauren’s mom, Shawna Glynn, said, “She’s three years old and doesn’t have any hair, but all her friends in the hospital look the same way. So it kind of gave her some normality.”

“It was just always a breath of fresh air to see a familiar face, and to know that she wasn’t alone in there.” Another mom added.

The girls’ close relationship also helped their parents cope a little better, dealing with such a trying period in not just their kids’ lives, but theirs as well.

Read also:  Nurse Adopts Abused Baby On Brink Of Death, Later Discovers She Has A Twin.

“From the standpoint of a mom, too, having other moms to relate to has been phenomenal. Just to have other people going through it at the same time as us.” Karen Moore, McKinley’s mom said.

“It gives me chills, it makes me want to cry. I mean, I love these kids as if they were my own, for sure. They’re awesome.” Paige Ward, a nurse at Johns Hopkins who took care of all the girls explained.

They may be just little girls, but the hurdles they have been able to overcome at such tender ages are incredibly amazing. What’s even more special about their story, is the beautiful friendship they have all been able to build while fighting such tough battles.

The girls have all beaten cancer, with Lauren finishing her treatment not too long ago and set to start kindergarten soon. The girls are also happy that they now have their long hair back as well and are planning to have their reunions every year.

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Uplifting

Childhood Friends Who Met One Day After Being Born Get Married 30 Years Later

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Childhood Friends Who Met One Day After Being Born Get Married 30 Years Later

Jemma and Daniel Langley were born just a day apart in the same hospital and met for the first time just a day after being born, now the two are newly-wed and expecting a child of their own. Their amazing love story is unlike many you’ve heard of.

After growing up as childhood friends, a decade after their first meeting, the two lost touch only to reconnect 20 years later. Speaking to MailOnline, Jemma explained, “It began when Daniel’s mother Janine and my mother Keryn both went into labor and were placed in beds right next to each other at the William Angliss Hospital, in Upper Ferntree Gully, Australia, in April 1989.

Jemma and Daniel Langley were born just a day apart in the same hospital and met for the first time just a day after being born

Jemma and Daniel Langley were born just a day apart in the same hospital and met for the first time just a day after being born

Not long after, on April 14, my mother was taken away to the birthing room to give birth to me. After I was born the midwife took me in to meet Janine, so apart from my parents, doctor and midwives she was one of the first people I met.”

After delivering their newborns, Janine and Keryn were brought back together and their babies finally met each other, not knowing that would only be the start of an amazing bond between them until they got separated 10 years later.

They kept in touch and caught up quite a bit until they were about nine or ten, when they lost touch.

They kept in touch and caught up quite a bit until they were about nine or ten, when they lost touch.

“With my parents living in Emerald and Daniel’s living in Monbulk, they kept in touch and caught up quite a bit until we were about nine or ten, when they lost touch.” Jemma said.

Read also: 108-Year-Old Meets 1-Year-Old Great-Great Grandson That Is Named After Him: ‘You Don’t Know What This Means To Me’

Incredibly enough, 24 years later, while randomly scrolling through Instagram account, Jemma came across a hairdressing page which surprisingly belonged to Daniel’s sister Rhiannon. She said, “I started following her (Rhiannon) and not long after decided to track Daniel down on Facebook. We started chatting for a while over Messenger.

I booked an appointment with Rhiannon to have my hair colored. Rhiannon’s salon is set up at Janine’s house which is also where both her and Daniel were living. So when I was in the middle of my appointment, Daniel turned up and popped in to say hello. He went in for a kiss on the cheek, but ended up with hair dye on his hat. We both laughed but I think he was a little upset.”

“From then we couldn’t get enough of seeing each other. On Mother’s Day in 2014 we officially became a couple. New Year’s Eve in 2016 my friend and I decided to surprise our partners with a cute picnic dinner at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

Little did I know Daniel had a surprise of his own and proposed to me. I was so shocked… I said yes and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.” Jemma added.

Now, 30 years after their first meeting, the couple are married and have a baby of their own on the way.

Now, 30 years after their first meeting, the couple are married and have a baby of their own on the way.

Now, 30 years after their first meeting, the couple are married and have a baby of their own on the way. How incredible is their love story!

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Boy With Down’s Syndrome Helps Take Care Of His 3 Disabled Brothers

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After he was adopted by American parents, Jeremy and Nicole, Simon Clark moved from his home country of Bulgaria to stay with his new family. Within a short period of time, Simon was already helping out with the house chores and helping with taking care of his brothers Alex, David and Jon who are disabled.

Simon who is only 4 years helps feed and dress his brothers and even tucks them into bed. His brother, Alex, has Down Syndrome while his other brothers, David and Jon have cerebral palsy. Aside from the fact that Simon is very young, it is even more amazing to know that he does all that while he has Down’s syndrome himself.

Within a short period of time, Simon was already helping out with the house chores and helping with taking care of his brothers Alex and David who are disabled.

Within a short period of time, Simon was already helping out with the house chores and helping with taking care of his brothers Alex and David who are disabled.

His parents say when Simon is not helping his brothers, he likes to play in the garden and also enjoys football.

Jeremy said, “He’s enjoyed the company of his brothers quite a bit, he jumped right in and started playing and taking care of his brothers. Since Simon has joined us, the days have become longer, they start a bit earlier and end a bit later and there’s more time to be a good parent. Simon loves to be with people.”

Simon who is only 4 years helps feed and dress his brothers and even tucks them into bed.

Simon who is only 4 years helps feed and dress his brothers and even tucks them into bed.

“While he can speak Bulgarian, he still can’t speak English, but out of our four children he is the most verbal, so he’ll say ‘mum’ and ‘dad’. He’s still learning but we’re confident that he’ll become verbal, while his brothers not so much.” He added.

Read also: I Adopted a Stranger’s Baby After Breast Cancer Took Her Mom’s Life.

“Raising four kids with special needs requires a lot of work and there are many things you have to do. The key is finding joy throughout each of those activities. Taking care of these children can be a great experience. They are always excited and full of joy. They get really happy over simple things that other kids could sometimes take for granted.”

Aside from the fact that Simon is very young, it is even more amazing to know that he does all that while he has Down's syndrome himself.

Aside from the fact that Simon is very young, it is even more amazing to know that he does all that while he has Down’s syndrome himself.

Simon’s mom, Nicole, was a nurse for 10 years before she decided to become a stay-at-home so she could better look after her kids. She is now able to pay attention to all their daily needs and is happy watching Simon help out.

His parents say when Simon is not helping his brothers, he likes to play in the garden and also enjoys football.

His parents say when Simon is not helping his brothers, he likes to play in the garden and also enjoys football.

Simon is the fourth Bulgarian child the couple has adopted and they say it’s a truly fulfilling experience to give these children a good start in life. They’re hoping that Simon, who was originally named Zadock, will help his brothers progress.

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