• Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) — Michael J. Fox has been living with Parkinson's disease for decades, but he's kept his sense of humor about it. In an interview for the April/May issue of AARP magazine, he spoke about how the condition makes him laugh."The truth is that on most days, there comes a point where I literally can't stop laughing at my own symptoms," he said.Even mundane tasks that give him a little trouble are enough to entertain the actor, 55, who went public with his diagnosis in 1998. He talked about the adventures of getting coffee in the morning for himself and his wife."I pour a cup — a little trouble there," Fox said. "Then I put both hands around the cup. She's watching. 'Can I get that for you, dear?' 'Nah, I got it!' Then I begin this trek across the kitchen. It starts off bad. Only gets worse. Hot java's sloshing onto my hands, onto the floor."Fox said he and his wife of nearly 30 years, Tracy Pollan, don't let these small struggles get them down."There's the fact that it's 7 in the morning and this is how we begin our day — the right way," he said. "But the thing that makes it hilarious to me is when I think of someone else watching all this and thinking, 'Poor Michael can't even get the coffee — it's so sad!'"The actor said he also had to learn to deal with the public perception of how "sad" his condition is."You deal with the condition, and you deal with people's perception of the condition," Fox said. "It was easy for me to tune into the way other people were looking into my eyes and seeing their own fear reflected back. I'd assure them that 'I'm doing great' -- because I was. After a while, the disconnect between the way I felt and the dread people were projecting just seemed, you know, funny."Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) — Actress Chandra Wilson, who plays a doctor on ABC's long-running hit drama Grey's Anatomy, opened up about her family's real-life medical saga in an interview with Good Morning America that aired Thursday.Wilson, who has played Dr. Miranda Bailey on Grey's Anatomy for the past 13 seasons, described the uncertainty and fear she faced when her daughter, Sarina McFarlane, 23, first became ill as a teenager.The Emmy-nominated actress said her daughter became afflicted with nausea, vomiting and crippling abdominal pain. McFarlane's mysterious illness baffled doctors, and Wilson said they went nearly 10 months before she finally got a diagnosis -- cyclic vomiting syndrome, or CVS, a neurological disorder characterized by a series of prolonged attacks of severe nausea and vomiting, with no apparent cause."It presented itself like a real bad case of food poisoning," Wilson explained. "It didn't go away for four or five days so because of that we went to the ER."Wilson said emergency room doctors hydrated her daughter but none of the tests showed it was anything different."A month later, the exact same presentation happened and this was month after month after month for 10 months," she said.Wilson kept a running log of her daughter's symptoms in multiple, 5-inch thick binders to note any progress or changes and to streamline the often-arduous check-in process at hospitals."I started looking for patterns," Wilson said. "When you are the parent of someone who is a chronic pain sufferer, you end up creating these binders for all of the hospital stays so you can keep track of every visit and any new thing that comes out."Dr. Richards Boles, medical director at Courtagen Life Sciences -- a medical facility that specializes in genetic testing to find solutions for complicated neurological and metabolic diseases -- said McFarlane could have suffered years had it not been for her mom's tenacity."Serena was lucky because of the care and persistence of her mother," Boles said. "Most patients go many years without a diagnosis.""The name gave us a direction to go in," Wilson said of receiving the diagnosis. "And it put us in a community of other people that seriously were going through the exact same thing stage by stage."Motivated by her daughter's condition, the Grey's Anatomy star went one step further and directed an episode that mirrored her own scramble for a diagnosis for this mysterious disease."Being able to be on Grey's Anatomy with all of those people able to watch it and hear it and say, 'Oh my God. That's what that is. I've heard of that. That's my kid. That's my husband. That's my aunt,'" Wilson said. "That means so much because I just remember what it meant to us."She added, "[If] that's something that I can do sitting in this chair on the set, then my daughter has said, 'Go ahead. Go and do that.'"
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  • luchschen/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- From late nights out to early mornings on the job, 30-year-old entrepreneur Erin Finnegan says she has a secret boost that keeps her going.She uses “nootropics,” also called “smart drugs,” or supplements claiming to boost brain function, helping to improve memory, focus and maybe even make you brilliant.“I’m bicoastal, I’m in New York and I’m here [in Los Angeles], and a lot of times traveling,” Finnegan said.Much like how actor Bradley Cooper played a character who took a pill and his focus went from zero to 100 in the movie “Limitless,” there are some saying the effects of these supplements are nonfiction. Countless users on Reddit swear by these pills, heralding benefits from “increased focus” to “mental stimulation.”Finnegan said nootropics is one of the keys to her success.“I would not give them up willingly,” she said. “The additional focus that I can have with them, yes, it does sustain the speed I am going at now and the many things, I would have to take a couple things off my plate if I wanted to keep going without them.”And she takes a pill every day.“It’s not like press a button and all of a sudden turbo charge and switch into ‘nootropics mode,’” she said. “I found that it helped lessen the time it took me to switch gears, if that makes sense.”But some doctors are questioning if the claims are too good to be true.“The lack of controlled trials the lack of rigorous scientific research and the lack of studies that actually try to study all of these different types of nootropics in certain combinations altogether,” said Dr. Richard Isaacson, a neuroscientist and Alzheimer’s expert.Nootropics stacks, or pills, are mixes of different components and can include different ingredients from caffeine and L-Theanine -- a type of amino acid -- to herbal supplements to the brain-boosting supplement, piracetam.Although they claim to alter brain function, nootropics are marketed not as a drug but as a type of dietary supplement, which means they don’t need FDA approval.Geoff Woo, 29-year-old co-founder of nootropics company Nootrobox, said he got interested in the supplement because he “wanted to be smarter.”“I grew up very competitive and wanting to be the best version of myself possible,” Woo said. “If there's one really smart person in the world, great we have another Einstein, but if everyone was super smart there's like an exponential amount of information and innovation.”Four years ago, Woo was working at a venture capital firm when he started digging around the internet and experimenting.“We were tinkering with things from laboratories from China, from off-label compounds, everything,” he said.Today, it’s become much more than a hobby for Woo. He says business is booming, and he caught the attention and financial backing of top Silicon Valley titans like early Facebook investor Andreesen Horowitz and Yahoo’s Marisa Mayer. He even made his pitch on an episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” but didn’t get any bites."I’ve tried nootropics, that’s what people use to go on 48-hour coding binges," Shark Chris Sacca told Woo when he appeared in a "Shark Tank" episode that aired in December. "But at the end of the day, you’re left with a headache, lack of recall, sometimes. I’m worried about the long term consequences so I’m out."Inside Woo’s tightly controlled lab, located an hour outside of Los Angeles, his team pumps out thousands of little pills every day.“For our company, we have four different pills, or four different types of stacks,” he said.Woo claims his pills to do everything from boosting “immediate clarity, energy and flow” to enhancing "memory, stamina and resilience.
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  • Courtesy Josue and Maruska Vella(NEW YORK) -- Jake Vella is literally running for his life.
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  • Courtesy Michelle Adkins(ROBINSON, Texas) -- One kindergartner undergoing cancer treatment is able to "attend" class, thanks to the help of artificial intelligence.In January, PJ Trojanowski, 6, was diagnosed with the kidney cancer Wilms tumor in both kidneys."She's our most outgoing child," dad Eric Trojanowski told ABC News Wednesday. "It was a different thing to sit down and tell my 6-ear-old, 'You have cancer and the doctors have to figure out how to get it out of you. She was feisty about it. The doc even said, 'I don't know Paisley very well, but I know kids like her do well in treatment because they have a lot of fight in them.'""It takes a lot out of her ... [but] she's taking it in stride," he added. "She talks about [how] she's going to beat cancer."Because of her weakened immune system, Paisley Jane, who goes by PJ, was unable to return to her kindergarten classroom at Robinson Primary School in Robinson, Texas.With help from her school and the Region 12 Education Service Center, a VGo robot was brought to Robinson Primary on PJ's behalf.The robot allows PJ to interact with classmates and observe lessons given by her teacher, Michelle Adkins, while she receives chemotherapy treatments at McLane Children's hospital in Temple, Texas.Adkins told ABC News that her other 19 students are accustomed to PJ logging into the mobile robot from her iPad, and having it move around the classroom.She also does home teaching visits with PJ two days a week to practice new skills face-to-face."I think she likes to interact with it," Adkins said. "She likes to know what we're doing and it's a way for her to get more learning time in. Her parents really enjoy it also."Trojanowski, a dad of three, said he helps PJ drive the robot around the classroom from the hospital."She enjoys listening to the story time and listening in on the lessons," he said. "She told me, 'Sometimes it makes me sad because I want to be with my friends at school.'"I tell her, 'You're at home now and get to watch and listen,'" he continued. "She's getting used to the idea. The support of the school district has been nothing short of amazing."PJ is undergoing chemotherapy and will receive surgery to remove the two tumors at the end of April.The Trojanowskis hope she can rejoin her classmates at the start of first grade.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Premature deaths of people under age 75 are increasing at a dramatic rate across the U.S., according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.The authors of the foundation's annual report from its County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program noted a dramatic uptick in premature deaths in the U.S. due largely to "unintentional injuries," which include accidental drug overdoses and car crashes.They found that in 2015, 1.2 million people in the U.S. died prematurely or before the age of 75 from causes considered preventable. This is an increase of nearly 40,000 from the previous year. These additional premature deaths were more likely to occur in younger people, the report found.Eight-five percent of the increase in people who died prematurely in 2015 were 15 to 44 years old."These are Americans [who] are dying essentially in the prime of their life," said Abbey Cofsky, the deputy director of data and science at the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute, which collaborated on the report. "They are dying as young adults" or with young families, she added.Accidental drug overdose, homicides and motor vehicle crashes appear to be huge factors in these deaths. The report's authors found that 6,787 people ages 15 to 24 died from motor vehicle accidents, 4,140 were firearm homicide victims and 3,727 died from drug overdoses. Accidental drug overdoses are increasing at a much more significant rate than other causes of premature death, the authors said.The researchers have documented an increase in premature deaths since 2012, with a more dramatic increase from 2014 to 2015."That's when we really wanted to look deeper in population," said Julie Willems Van Dijk, a registered nurse and the director of the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program. She pointed out that before 2012, there was a long-term downward trend in the number of premature deaths."That's when we dug into the story [of increased injuries]. A lot of time people don't think of drug overdoses as injuries," she said. "Even when someone is a drug addict, they don't intend to die."Opioid overdoses in particular have increased in recent years. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 33,000 people died because of opioid overdose in 2015 and that 91 people in the U.S. die every day from such drugs.The researchers estimated the years of life lost in a population due to drug overdoses. For American Indian/Alaskan Natives, 736 potential years of life are lost per 100,000 people. The number was highest for white people, with 778 years lost per 100,000 people.Dr. Ellie Ragsdale of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center said it has been a struggle to reach people most affected by opioid addiction, many of whom live in rural areas with fewer resources."That is a population that we have been trying to target for many years, and we want to decrease the epidemic," she said.Ragsdale said doctors have been making an effort to cut down on the amount of opioids prescribed for patients, in the hopes of diminishing the epidemic."I think there's been a big collaborative effort among health care providers to limit prescriptions," she said. "We have seen a benefit on the front lines, but we're not seeing it in the data yet."To see your county's health data, click HERE.
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