Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Jen Arnold, whose TLC reality show “The Little Couple” chronicles her and her husband’s life living with dwarfism, is opening up about a cancer diagnosis that she received while traveling to India to finalize adoption papers on the couple’s daughter. The Arnolds had struggled with infertility treatments before ultimately adopting a son from China and a daughter from India–both children with different forms of dwarfism. More from PEOPLE.com:
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Back in Houston, Arnold, a neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, was diagnosed with stage 3 choriocarcinoma, a rare cancer that began with a non-viable pregnancy (the embryo had no heartbeat) she suffered in September.
“The one time I get pregnant,” Arnold says ruefully, “I get cancer.”
When a cancerous mass in her uterus didn’t initially respond to chemotherapy, her doctors decided to perform a hysterectomy.
“We wanted to avoid surgery in her case because of her shortened airway and the difficulties she has had in the past with surgeries,” says Dr. Concepcion R. Diaz-Arrastia, director of gynecology oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, who is treating Arnold. “But we felt we had no choice. The disease was not responding to chemotherapy. We had to do this in order to save her life.”
Her doctor also did extensive research and contacted specialists around the country to calculate the appropriate dosage of chemotherapy for Arnold, who has a form of dwarfism.
“I called oncologists in Los Angeles, Baltimore, New York, Houston,” says Dr. Arrastia, “and no one had experience with treating this type of cancer in a person with skeletal dysplasia. It was a very rare cancer, rare that it was found in a little person … a very rare situation.”
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
The American family is more diverse than ever–even compared to the changing landscape of the past few years with a rise in same-sex marriages, adoptions, and trans-racial families–according to researchers who follow census data on family structure. More from The New York Times:
“This churning, this turnover in our intimate partnerships is creating complex families on a scale we’ve not seen before,” said Andrew J. Cherlin, a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s a mistake to think this is the endpoint of enormous change. We are still very much in the midst of it.”
Yet for all the restless shape-shifting of the American family, researchers who comb through census, survey and historical data and conduct field studies of ordinary home life have identified a number of key emerging themes.
Families, they say, are becoming more socially egalitarian over all, even as economic disparities widen. Families are more ethnically, racially, religiously and stylistically diverse than half a generation ago — than even half a year ago.
In increasing numbers, blacks marry whites, atheists marry Baptists, men marry men and women women, Democrats marry Republicans and start talk shows. Good friends join forces as part of the “voluntary kin” movement, sharing medical directives, wills, even adopting one another legally.
Single people live alone and proudly consider themselves families of one — more generous and civic-minded than so-called “greedy marrieds.”
“There are really good studies showing that single people are more likely than married couples to be in touch with friends, neighbors, siblings and parents,” said Bella DePaulo, author of “Singled Out” and a visiting professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll be single forever. “There are not just more types of families and living arrangements than there used to be,” said Stephanie Coontz, author of the coming book “Intimate Revolutions,” and a social historian at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. “Most people will move through several different types over the course of their lives.”
At the same time, the old-fashioned family plan of stably married parents residing with their children remains a source of considerable power in America — but one that is increasingly seen as out of reach to all but the educated elite.
“We’re seeing a class divide not only between the haves and the have-nots, but between the I do’s and the I do nots,” Dr. Coontz said. Those who are enjoying the perks of a good marriage “wouldn’t stand for any other kind,” she said, while those who would benefit most from marital stability “are the ones least likely to have the resources to sustain it.”
Image: Multi-colored picket fence, via Shutterstock
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Monday, September 16th, 2013
Aisha Taylor, a co-host of “The Talk,” has shared for the first time that she and her husband of 11 years have struggled to conceive a child and have undergone in vitro fertilization treatments in hopes of becoming pregnant. PEOPLE.com has more:
“We went through the process. There are all these shots, they make your body crazy, they make you emotional, they hurt. I was getting shots every day. I wasn’t telling you guys — my husband and I were going through this at home together. He hated giving me the shots, he probably cried more than I did,” Tyler, 42, told her co-hosts.
“After going through a lot of procedures and spending a lot of money … the doctor said, ‘Look, based on what we’re seeing here, I just don’t think this is going to happen for you.’”
Tearing up she continued, “The hardest part is I really love my husband — he’s such a good person and he would be such a great father. But we just decided it wasn’t worth it to go through that and so we decided to stop. It was better to not go through that torture.”
Tyler’s co-hosts, who hadn’t not known about her issues, were in tears as she told them about her struggle to become a mom. But Tyler, who says she loves kids, admitted that she hasn’t given up her baby dream completely.
“I love the idea of adoption,” she admitted when Sara Gilbert asked her about exploring other avenues. “But I feel like this is such a fresh wound that I want to let it heal for a while before I think about what we could do.”
Image: Aisha Tyler, via Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
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Thursday, September 12th, 2013
Adopted children may be more likely to attempt or commit suicide than their non-adopted siblings, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota. More from Reuters:
Researchers urged doctors to be on the lookout for signs of trouble in adopted teen patients but said parents should not be overly alarmed by the results.
“While our findings suggest that adoptees may have an elevated risk for suicide attempt, the majority of the adopted individuals in our study were psychologically well-adjusted,” lead author Margaret Keyes, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, said.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the agency, 4,600 youth deaths each year in the U.S. are suicides, and a much larger number of young people make attempts to take their own lives.
Previous research in Sweden found that adopted kids in that country were more likely to attempt suicide than nonadopted kids, but no comparable study had been done in the U.S., according to Keyes and her coauthors writing in the journal Pediatrics.
Image: Sad teenager, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
Children who are adopted or who are in the foster care system have a heightened rate of fetal alcohol syndrome and other emotional and physical conditions that are associated with prenatal exposure to alcohol, according to a new review of more than 30 studies conducted in America and Russia. More from Reuters:
Among those children, researchers found that rates of alcohol-related problems – which can include deformities, mental retardation and learning disabilities – were anywhere from nine to 60 times higher than in the general population.
“It’s increasingly well recognized that this is a very high-risk population and one that we should really be paying attention to,” Phil Fisher, a psychologist who studies foster and adopted children at the University of Oregon in Eugene, said.
“We know that one of the main reasons that kids end up in foster care or being made eligible for adoption is because their parents have substance abuse problems,” added Fisher, who wasn’t involved in the new research.
Image: Pregnant woman holding wine glass, via Shutterstock
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