• Courtesy Tracey Blackmore (NEW YORK) -- An Indiana mother is hoping to preserve her son's memory by hiding his favorite toys, Hot Wheels cars, around the neighborhood for strangers to find."Since he passed, it's hard dealing with your grief," Tracey Blackmore of Carmel, Indiana told ABC News. "You can be sad and feel sorry for yourself or you could do something about it. I just wanted to to spread his love and his story and also help raise money for childhood cancer research."On June 13, 2015, Brooks Blackmore, 6, was diagnosed with two astrocytomas, which are cancerous tumors of the brain. He underwent several bouts of radiation to fight the inoperable, stage 4 tumors. But in March 2016 another tumor developed and on May 21, 2016, Brooks died."I just miss his laugh and the joy he would bring to our lives," Blackmore said of her son. "He was such a silly boy always making little fart jokes or butt jokes. He has younger siblings. They are now 3 years old. They're boy-girl twins and I miss the love that he would share with them."To add to the more than $20,000 Brooks' family has raised for childhood cancer research, Blackmore began assembling bags labeled "Finders Keepers, #BeBrooksBrave."Each bag contains Brooks' story, statistics on childhood cancer, a copy of Brooks' painting, a link to his St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraising page and a packaged Hot Wheels car donated by the Mattel toy company."Brooks has always loved Hot Wheels," Blackmore said. "Whenever he was home and sick he would always ask to go out and get a Hot Wheel. This kid would remember every Hot Wheel he had, where he got it, where he got it from. We probably went out four to five times a week when he was undergoing treatment."December 20 would have been Brooks' 7th birthday. In an effort to remember him on that day and during the holidays, Blackmore began scattering 200-plus Hot Wheels cars in some of Brooks' favorite places including Target, his old preschool, the Chick-fil-A play area and his favorite restaurant, Panera."We have a very emotional month here, so I wanted to bring it joy and happiness instead of sadness," Blackmore said. "I wanted to inspire others to keep fighting, be brave and hopefully do something good for somebody else too."Blackmore hopes the cars will cheer someone up just as they did for Brooks. She has mailed some Hot Wheels across the country so out-of-state family can hide them as well.Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical ContributorSome people suffer from the winter blues. Shorter, colder days come with the winter months and, for some, so does seasonal affective disorder. Many people start to develop the telltale signs after falling back with the clock. Symptoms include irritability, excessive sleeping, and loss of interest. Some may notice lethargy and weight gain. So here are some things you can do to combat the winter blues: See the light. Even though we have less daylight time, being outside in the sun for just 10 to 15 minutes everyday is important. Some people find those light boxes also help. And if your budget allows, head south for even a short vacation. It might be just what the doctor ordered.Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  The mother of twin girls born conjoined at the abdomen and chest it said it was "surreal" to see her daughters separated.Speaking to reporters alongside doctors Thursday, Aida Sandoval, and her husband, Arturo Sandoval, were brought to tears as they recounted their daughters' operation earlier this week.Erika and Eva Sandoval, 2, of Antelope, California, were born joined at the lower chest and upper abdomen, referred to as omphalo-ischiopagus twins. While they were born with their heart and lungs separate, they shared some lower anatomical structures, including a liver, bladder and two kidneys."It has been a long journey to get here. It's really been a dream come true," Aida Sandoval told reporters. "We want to get them to this place where they can still have an individual life and still be together."  It took at least 50 doctors and other medical staff 18 hours to safely separate the girls at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, California. They remain in recovery at the hospital after undergoing surgery on Tuesday.Prior to the surgery, the hospital estimated there was a 70 percent chance that both girls would survive the arduous procedure.To take on the difficult surgery, the medical team created a 3-D model of the girls' shared abdomen to help guide them through the surgery. They also had their MRI and CT scans available.The girls' mother said today when she first saw them in the hospital it was surreal to see them separate for the first time in their lives."It still seems very surreal to see one on one side and one on the other side," Aida Sandoval said. "It brings us all joy."Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • Erik Gaines(NEW YORK) -- A crew of firefighters in Washington state helped save Christmas for the family of a man who fell nearly six feet off a ladder while trying to hang Christmas lights at his home.Erik Gaines, 35, was home alone with his three young children Sunday decorating the outside of the family’s Puyallup, Washington, home for the holidays. He had just hung the first string of lights on his two-story home when the base of the ladder kicked out from underneath him and he crashed down.Gaines’ left leg got caught in one of the rungs of the ladder as he crashed onto the ground. His 11- and 7-year-old daughters called 911 for their dad while Gaines’ 1-year-old son slept in his crib.Just as Gaines’ wife pulled up to the house, rescue crews from Central Pierce Fire & Rescue arrived to take Gaines to the hospital.As Gaines was treated at the hospital for injuries, including a torn rotator cuff, broken leg and a chipped bone on his shoulder, he received good news. The same firefighters who rescued him were planning to come back to his house on their day off to finish hanging his Christmas lights."They were so upset, so we thought let’s just give back and spread a little joy," Sean Irwin, one of the four firefighters who put up the lights on Tuesday, told ABC News. "We thought it’d be cool if they pulled in home from the hospital and they had their lights up."Irwin said the firefighters had a relatively easy job to do because Gaines had so carefully laid out the lights for his home. The completed the job in about one hour."Putting up lights was pushed to the back burner after my fall," Gaines said. "But when I heard they offered, it definitely got me emotional to know that they had thought to do that."The firefighters also told Gaines they will be back in January to finish the job."They called when we got home from the hospital and made sure the timers were all working for the lights to go on and off and offered to come back after the first of the year to take the lights down," Gaines said.Gaines is now home from the hospital as he awaits at least one more surgery to repair his injuries."My family and friends have taken pictures for me and put them on social media so I can see them," said Gaines, who is now mostly immobile. "It’s really comforting to know that they're up and that my family gets to continue to celebrate as normal."Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 7-year-old girl got her Christmas wish early this year when Santa surprised her with a puppy during a holiday photo shoot."She was shocked because she really had no idea," mom Carman Richison of Westland, Michigan, told ABC News. "She was happy and surprised, but a little bit scared too. Santa had to leave and right when Santa left, she didn't know she was really taking this dog home."
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Americans will spend more than $60 billion this year on cosmetics, but have you ever thought about all the chemicals that may be in your favorite products?You may think the United States government reviews the safety of all the lotions, creams, sprays and makeup you use, but that is not the case. Now lawmakers are raising concerns and asking questions about possible risks, and calling for the FDA to step in.The last legislation passed to regulate safety of cosmetics was passed nearly 80-years-ago, and now the cosmetics industry could face increased scrutiny by the U.S. government, as a new bill that would give the FDA more teeth is gaining traction in Congress.“I don’t really think about the products I use in my bathroom,” Ally Cao, 18, of Berkeley, California, told ABC News, adding, however, she does “have some worries.”Only 11 chemicals have ever been regulated by the FDA for use in cosmetics. And no safety tests are required before beauty products hit store shelves.Now lawmakers and celebrities are hoping to change that with legislation that would require the FDA to evaluate the safety of at least five chemicals a year and give the FDA the power to recall dangerous products.Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced the bipartisan legislation titled "Personal Care Products Safety Act," to protect consumers and streamline industry compliance, they said in a statement about the bill.“From shampoo to lotion, the use of personal care products is widespread, however, there are very few protections in place to ensure their safety,” said Senator Feinstein. “Europe has a robust system, which includes consumer protections like product registration and ingredient reviews. I am pleased to be introducing this bipartisan legislation with Senator Collins that will require FDA to review chemicals used in these products and provide clear guidance on their safety.”It also has the endorsement of nearly two dozen beauty brands and stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, who said in an email rallying support, “Consumers deserve to know the products they use every day are safe.”ABC News wanted to see if our bodies are actually absorbing the chemicals that we’re putting on each day. We looked at two common chemicals: parabens, which can act as preservatives, and phthalates, controversial chemicals often used to make fragrances last longer. The CDC says the health effects of low-level exposure to these chemicals are “unknown.”"Human health effects from environmental exposure to low levels of parabens are unknown," according to the CDC website.After getting a baseline measurement of the chemicals in ABC News' correspondent Mary Bruce's system, for three days, she used only beauty products containing the two chemicals, parabens and phthalates. Then, for five days, she cut them out completely, using only products excluding those chemicals for her daily routine.ABC News took urine samples at each stage of the experiment and sent them to the California Department of Health for review, then met with University of California-Berkeley researcher Kim Harley for the results.When Bruce switched to using only products with the chemicals, the level of parabens in her system went off the charts, going up to 386 ug/g, from her baseline of 38 ug/g. The average American woman, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has 23 ug/g.When she changed to the low-chemical products, the “levels basically plummeted,” said Harley. “You went down to 6 [ug/g].”The same thing happened with phthalates, going from her baseline of 87 ug/g, up to 284 ug/g, and back down to 45 ug/g. The average for women is 43 ug/g.The Personal Care Products Council told ABC News families "can feel confident they are protected" and that manufacturers use "the best science and latest available research" to ens
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