Sunday, March 9, 2008

South Dakota Student Battles Bone Cancer

A child with cancer is something you never want to hear. Besides the trauma of dealing with the disease, the expense of fighting it can be overwhelming.

For the past 10 weeks, Amber Hudelson has been going through chemotherapy, fighting a rare form of bone cancer. However, it's even more rare that she stops smiling.

Lorie Hudelson, Amber's Mother, "Amber has a fabulous attitude about it all. She knows that she's going to be OK and she knows her hair is going to grow back, and that's what she's focusing on."

Amber explains, "It just makes me feel good that I know that so many people care about me. And so many people showed up to help me get through this."
Hundreds of people packed St. Peter's Community Center in Jefferson, South Dakota on Saturday night, spending their money on a spaghetti dinner and a silent auction, money the Hudelsons desperately need.

Lorie says, "All food, travel, and medical bills, because, I can't go back to work until Amber's done."

Much of Amber's medical costs will be covered by insurance, but the Hudelsons will end up paying thousands of dollars out of pocket. This benefit will help with that a lot.

Lorie explains, "I don't even know how to begin to thank everyone, make sure that everyone gets a thanks that they deserve."

The cancer started in Amber's ribs, collapsed a lung, and spread to her shoulder. But it hasn't affected her smile, which is what is getting her parents through this.

Lorie believes, "If she weren't as strong as she is, I think it would be a lot harder for us."
Amber says the hardest part is spending less time with her friends. And she never knew she had so many.

Doctors hope to operate on Amber's tumor in about a month. Then she'll continue chemotherapy and possibly radiation. In time, doctors expect Amber to be cancer-free.

Friday, March 7, 2008

French surgeons rebuilt Adam McGrath's knee after a snowboarding accident last month, but he hopes to be back on his board next season

Adam McGrath is 29 and has snowboarded since he was 15. He broke his leg snowboarding in Tignes on February 24.

"It was the last day of a lads’ snowboarding weekend and four of us were in a board park above Tignes Val Claret. I was feeling cocky – I’ve had boarding accidents before – twice cracking my skull – but it’s never dented my confidence.

There’s always a big jump at the end of these parks, and this one had an “Experts Only” sign. My friend Adie went ahead with a camera and egged Chris and I to have a go. I went first and got far too much air and not enough distance so landed on the flat instead of the slope.

My front leg landed straight and took the impact.

I didn’t hear any cracks but my knee felt like things were in the wrong place. I got out of my board and realised I couldn’t stand. My friends carried me to a restaurant 20 yards away and after a few minutes it was clear I’d need help getting down. I still didn’t realise it was broken– I thought it was dislocated.

I’d hoped to get a skidoo down but a blood wagon appeared - so it was headfirst down the mountain to the Tignes medical centre. An Aussie was towing me – a nice guy called Ed. He packed my leg in this beanbag contraption that you squeeze the air from, then it goes solid around the break.

An ambulance took me to the centre where there were others with broken arms and legs. It took 30 minutes for an x-ray to confirm that I’ve pulverised (the doctor’s phrase) the top of my tibia where it meets my knee, the tibial plateau. But before that was the painful part – getting my board boots and trousers off.

The doctor said I’d need surgery in Bourg St Maurice, but he didn’t sound optimistic. By this time my parents had arrived – they own the chalet in Tignes Les Brevieres where we were staying. The surgeon said we’d be better off in a specialist clinic in Aix les Bains, but said we’d have to pay a surcharge to get there because the Carte Neige insurance that comes with the ski pass only covers transport to the nearest available hospital.

We paid the E316 but had to wait for four hours until the ambulance would take us. They couldn’t leave Tignes until the lifts had closed in case someone else had an accident. Finally, with sirens and lights blaring we got to Clinique Herbert at 10pm and the doctor chastised the ambulance drivers for not getting me there sooner.

Surgery was scheduled for the next afternoon. I was told an epidural would be best to aid my recovery and avoid DVT, but in hindsight a general anaesthetic would have saved me the worst ordeal of my life.

I had a reaction to the drug and my skin crawled – to stop me twitching they strapped down my arms and then for five hours I could smell burning flesh, feel the tourniquet tight around my leg and hear drilling and the odd “merde” among the French chatter. In the end they sedated me because I became so anxious.

Aix les Bains is a picturesque French spa town, full of hospitals and convalescents, but I couldn’t get home sooner. I’m now staying with my parents – my London flat is up five flights of stairs.

It’ll be three months until I can put weight on my leg but within a week I was already up and about on crutches and I’ve started physio.

It’s probably a blessing to have had the surgery in France because although the language barrier was frustrating and at times distressing, the hospital was clean, I had a private room, and I had faith in the surgeons.

Since getting back I’ve found the English health system reluctant – I’ve been told I don’t need drugs I was prescribed in France, unless something goes wrong. It seems best practice in England is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, whereas in France they’re more precautionary.

The insurance company has been great – never thought I’d say that – but they helped get me home and will cover the £8,000-odd cost of the accident.

The long term prognosis is that I won’t be running marathons again, but I hope to be back snowboarding next season. You can forget the big jumps, though, I doubt I’ll be such a risk taker again."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Car Crash Fatalities Too Often Young Teens

By MedHeadlines • Mar 4th, 2008 • Category: Adolescents, Children's Health, Editor's Picks, Lifestyle, Prevention

Car crashes are more likely to claim the lives of passengers aged 12 to 16 than younger passengers. Each year the teen’s age increases, so does the risk. This is the finding of an on-going collaborative study involving State Farm Insurance Companies and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The complete details of their findings have just been released in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.Reviewing 45,560 car crashes that involved passengers aged 8 to 17, researchers isolated the 9,807 deaths of passengers in the study’s age group. All crashes in the study occurred between 2000 and 2005. Children aged 12 to 14 suffered more fatalities than those younger and older.

Statistical analysis of the findings presents some very revealing insight into the events surrounding the crashes. Researchers hope the study will lead to better passenger safety through education and awareness.

For example, 54.5% of the children killed were in vehicles driven by someone younger than age 20. In almost 2 out of every 3 fatalities, passengers were not using seat belts or other approved safety restraints. Seventy-five percent of the fatalities occurred in areas where the speed limit was higher than 45 miles per hour. Twenty percent of the fatal crashes involved alcohol.

Adolescents frequently ride in cars driven by someone other than their parents, according to previous studies. Instead, drivers are often older siblings, classmates, and friends.

Three key risk factors identified for auto safety for young teens are riding in vehicles driven by a driver younger than age 16, high-speed roadways, and not wearing seat belts.

Describing the teen deaths as preventable, the research team offers five guidelines for optimum child safety when riding in any vehicle:

1. Wear seat belts everybody, every ride, every time.

2. Set the example for safety standards. Obey speed limits, avoid cell phones, and never drink and drive.

3. Discuss the safe behaviors that mark a good passenger and set rules accordingly.

4. Pay attention to your child’s travel plans. Always know where they are going, with whom and how they plan to get there, who’s the driver, and when to expect them home.

5. Never let your child ride in a car with someone you don’t know or trust. Avoid inexperienced drivers, especially those with less than one year of experience.

The research team would like to see policy changes and strengthened enforcement measures that will help improve the safety of teenage drivers and their passengers.

Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia