iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- David Spisak Jr., the 8-year-old with cancer who found the love of his life, has died.
"There's never been a morning with such sadness as today and no words will do it justice but I'll try," David's mother Amber Spisak wrote on Facebook Thursday. "Our little man's last moments were laying with his mommy and daddy in the middle of the night, with a house full of family, friends and loved ones after days of being surrounded by love. This day was supposed to come about 9-10 months ago but David just wasn't done living yet so he made his own timeline and defied the rules."
She continued: "I'm not ready to say things happen for a reason or a message of rainbows and sunshine just yet, but our baby boy was a fighter, a beautiful soul, a force to be reckoned with and of all the things, he is most definitely a hero. Rest easy sweet boy, you fought an unfair fight with the strength of a thousand soldiers that I could've never done...but you did it with grace; no more struggling. Just rest."
Spisak told ABC News in November that David was first diagnosed with leukemia when he was 2 and beat cancer three times before his diagnosis in March. He underwent extensive chemotherapy treatment.
With a fourth cancer diagnosis, David would have to spend more time in the hospital, unable to play with other children.
"We just decided it was time to give him a childhood,” Spisak said. “If the outcome was going to be the same, if he was going to continue to get cancer, we decided that if he wasn’t going to win, that we would give him everything right now.”
In March, doctors told the Spisaks David would live four to six weeks without treatment.
But months passed and David looked well. He was well enough to start second grade in September.
It was there in school where David met Ayla, a girl in his class, who his mother said he had a crush on.
After David’s disease pulled him from school, not only did his classmates write letters about how much Ayla, 7, missed him, but Ayla herself sent multiple letters with her phone number "all over," according to Spisak.
“He said, ‘Actually, she's kind of like the real Snow White because she's so kind, especially to me because she loves me,’” Spisak said.
David and Ayla’s bond proved even more special when he asked her out on a date, planned by both their mothers, to a bowling alley with a teddy bear and flowers.
By the end of the date, David had lived more than many 8-year-olds: he had his first date and his first kiss (on the cheek). At one point, he even stood up from his chair, walked and bowled standing up, his mother said.
"He was just so determined for her, he really pushed himself for her," Spisak said. "Once we realized that this wasn’t the typical elementary school crush, once we saw this heartfelt connection that they have, we were so happy that she came into his life and that he came to her life for some reason."
“We never thought he was going to ever experience this because his time is so limited, but we saw it and it's real,” she added.
Sadly, David died in the early hours of Thursday morning at home, according to Christy McCloud, founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization Adipsy, which has provided meals for the Spisaks during this difficult time.
"We're deeply saddened and doing everything we can in assisting to make this as easy as possible," McCloud told ABC News Friday. "[David's mom] feels pretty numb right now, so a lot of her friends are rallying around her to help get her through things."
McCloud said the family pulled David from the hospital Sunday so he could die comfortably in his own home.
Adipsy will also be assisting the Spisaks with funeral arrangements for their son.
"One of the things [David] said was that he wanted to be a hero, so his mom wants to give him a hero funeral," McCloud said.
luiscar/iStock/ThinkStock(GENEVA) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) says that possible Zika vaccines could be months away from broad trials.
Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, the Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation at the WHO on Research and Development said at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday, "vaccines are at least 18 months away from large-scale trials."
She also noted that the landscape "is evolving very rapidly and numbers change daily." Dr. Kieny also said that two vaccine "candidates seem to be more advanced: a DNA vaccine from the US National Institutes for Health, and an inactivated product from Bharat Biotech, in India."
Ten companies were identified "so far that can provide nucleic acid or serological tests. Nucleic acid tests are based on a molecular technique used to detect a virus in the blood; serological tests measure the levels of antibodies as a result of exposure to a particular virus."
An additional ten companies are also in the process of various stages of development. Dr. Kieny made a point to mention that the UN health agency's response to the outbreak was also "proceeding very quickly."
The biggest task will be however, "to ensure an adequate reference method is used by manufacturers when generating their data so that the performance of the various Zika diagnostic can be tested through an independent assessment."
This, in turn, "will help prevent the distribution of poor quality or fake Zika tests that are sure to come up rapidly - as was the case with Ebola," she said.
Zika is a mosquito-transmitted infection that has been spreading rapidly throughout South America. Zika is believed to be linked to microcephaly, which causes brain damage in infants. WHO officials have declared Zika a public health emergency.
Courtesy of Richard Woodruff(SALT LAKE CITY) -- A therapy kangaroo is bringing hope to retired servicemen while hopping around a home for veterans in Salt Lake City.
Charlie the kangaroo has been working at the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home since March 2015, Noralyn Kahn, an administrator at the home, told ABC News.
"His job is just to love them," Kahn, who also owns Charlie, said. "They can hold him and give him a bottle, or he will go and jump around and make everybody smile."
"It's been proven that therapy animals lower blood pressure, and they lessen the need for a lot of anti-depressants because they just uplift everybody. For those residents who sometimes seem like they are not there with us, we can put an animal in their arms and it is just the most amazing thing," Kahn said. "They just love Charlie."
Charlie will be recognized for his achievements next month when he is honored as the American Red Cross' "Animal Hero of the Year," Rich Woodruff, communications director for the Utah region of the American Red Cross, told ABC News.
"The Red Cross has an annual event called Everyday Heroes, and we have all kinds of categories that people are nominated for, and a few years ago we started a category called Animal Heroes," Woodruff said. In the past they have honored canines, but this year Charlie the kangaroo was nominated.
Kahn explained that one of Charlie's greatest contributions to the home is bringing families together. The presence of a kangaroo attracts previously wary or timid visitors.
"Oftentimes the grandkids won't come in this building because of the way Grandpa acts, or because he has an oxygen machine or there are people they don't know," Kahn said, "but they come and see Charlie and they are always so happy."
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The three models who are breaking barriers in this month’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue say they are doing so because brands are finally looking beyond the conventional size and age for models.
Nicola Griffin is a 56-year-old mom who started modeling at the age of 53 after her children left home for school. Now, Griffin is rocking a gold bikini in a one-page ad for plus-size swimsuit retailer Swimsuits for All in Sports Illustrated’s famous issue.
“It’s amazing,” Griffin said Friday on “Good Morning America.” “I’m very, very proud.”
Like Griffin, plus-size model Precious Lee is featured in an ad in the Swimsuit issue for Lane Bryant. The model said confidence is a strength she works on building every single day.
“Can’t in my household was like saying a curse word so I’ve built on that through the years,” Lee said. “[Confidence] takes practice every single day.”
“It’s something that you have to work on and build on every day,” she said. “There’s no magic pill.” Ashley Graham, best known for her work as a lingerie model for Lane Bryant, is a member of the SI Swimsuit 2016 Rookie Class. She’ll be one of five rookie Swimsuit issue models featured in the magazine when it hits newsstands next week.
“I’m still so speechless about it all,” she said.
Graham, a Lincoln, Nebraska, native, made history as the first so-called curvy model to have an ad in the SI Swimsuit issue. Last year she generated huge buzz when she walked the New York Fashion Week runway in her own Modern Boudoir lingerie line for Addition Elle.
The model said it is about time brands started paying attention to models who are not stick-thin. “Nobody’s been listening to us,” Graham said on “GMA.” “I’ve been doing this for 15 years and finally Sports Illustrated has come out, Lane Bryant, ‘Swimsuits for All.' There’s been so many brands that are finally saying, ‘You know what, we are going to be the pioneers.'”
“We are going to be the ones that say, you know, it doesn’t matter what size you are. It doesn’t matter if you have cellulite. It doesn’t matter if things jiggle where they’re not supposed to. That’s still beautiful,’” she said.
David and Ivonne Trinidad(NEW YORK) -- Forget the stork.
A New York City couple said they found out they were expecting their first child with the help of a little technology -- Fitbit data.
David Trinidad’s 2016 New Year’s resolution was to get in shape and have a child with his wife of three-and-a-half years, Ivonne Trinidad. When Ivonne fell in love with her husband’s Fitbit, David got her one of her own.
“I wanted to get a Fitbit to use the sleep tracker and see if I was hitting my sleep goals,” Ivonne said. But little did she know the gadget was about to tell her something else.
“Weeks later I thought something was wrong with the tracker because [Ivonne's] heart rate was consistently high,” David said. “I thought something was wrong with the watch and didn’t want to contact customer service and go through all of that so I posted in reddit where I was active.”
One Reddit user suggested that Ivonne’s elevated heart rate may be explained by stress or pregnancy. “We had begun to try to have our first child, but that was really fast, but could be a possibility,” David said.
Ivonne says she took nearly 10 pregnancy tests which all came back positive.
“I was down $200 bucks before the baby was even born,” David said.
Christine Zirafi, Director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center’s Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute tells ABC News that an elevated heart rate can be a sign of pregnancy, and is not uncommon. But there are many other diseases that can cause a faster heart rate.
“Your heart rate goes up during pregnancy as your heart puts more blood out because of the placenta and the baby,” Dr. Zirafi said. “There are also changes in the mother’s vascular resistance because of the placenta and the baby.”
The couple’s doctor confirmed they are expecting. The due date is October 2016.
After sharing the news with the Reddit community, David has received notifications and messages from people all over the world.
“It’s been insane,” Ivonne said. “All the emotions, I’m super hormonal. People from South Africa to Germany have reached out to say congratulations.”
A Fitbit spokesperson told ABC News it is always exciting to hear from the community of Fitbit users, and they are very happy to learn of this story.
The first time parents say the response has been so positive that they have decided to let people continue to follow their journey via twitter and Instagram @babyfitbit.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While outlining its Zika virus response plan, the Department of Homeland Security said today it will not direct U.S. Customs officials to add new screening measures for travelers into the United States.
“Based on our current understanding of the virus, enhanced public health entry screening for Zika would not be effective,” a DHS statement said.
Most people who are infected with Zika are asymptomatic and, therefore, would not be identified during the screening process, according to DHS.
The Zika virus has been spreading throughout the Americas and has been linked to birth defects and other negative health issues. The virus’ spread prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to activate its highest emergency operations level Monday.
The White House also announced earlier this week that it was seeking more than $1.8 billion in supplemental funding from Congress to address the U.S. response to the virus.
“Just like with our response to Ebola, our response to Zika must be an all-hands-on-deck effort,” said Sen. Carper, D-Del., in a statement last month calling on DHS to provide a response.
As part of their day-to-day practices, officials look for overt signs of illness at all U.S. ports of entry and on the border
But CDC officials are not recommending active symptom monitoring and temperature checks like they did for Ebola screening.
Because Department of Homeland Security is responsible for immigration - legal and illegal - homeland security officials are adding “mosquito control measures” at facilities where people are in DHS custody in the areas of the country where mosquitoes have transmitted the virus.
Pregnant women in immigration custody who are from areas with a high incidence of Zika virus will be screened for symptoms, receive blood testing and be provided prenatal care while in custody, DHS said.
moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After beginning her professional modeling career last year, Madeline Stuart has jetted across the globe for photo shoots and runway shows. A hectic schedule comes with the modeling territory. But Stuart has something else to prove to the world.
She was born with Down syndrome and is working hard to change society's perceptions of modeling. According to Stuart, she is the only professional model with the genetic disorder. But her condition has not slowed down her career. The teenager is walking in the FTL Moda show during New York Fashion Week -- her second time modeling at the fashion event.
"I hope through modelling I can change societies view of people with Disabilities," she wrote on her Facebook page. "Exposure is creating awareness, acceptance and inclusion."
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that develops when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. Individuals with Down syndrome often have a lower IQ and slower speech. The disease can also affect a person in physical ways. including smaller hands and feet, almond-shaped eyes and small ears.
Rosanne Stuart, Madeline's mother and manager, told ABC News that Madeline has become more outgoing and communicative as a result of her time in front of the camera.
"We always get fantastic feedback from makeup artists, photographers and product companies. She is not pretentious and very focused and down to earth, which I think is amazing as before this she could not get any type of work," Stuart wrote in an email. "She has also developed a very outgoing personality and communicates a lot more."
She said that she and her daughter have received a lot of support and encouragement.
"I think the most exciting thing is all the thousands of people that have reached out in appreciation of what she is doing and what our beliefs are on changing the world's perspective on disability," Stuart said. "It has been really touching and has made us want to keep going and to keep trying to help people."
Stuart added that Madeline was especially happy about returning to New York Fashion Week.
"We are so grateful for all the support [Madeline] gets as it not only makes her a very happy young woman but it gives us faith in humanity," Stuart said.
Courtesy Lindsay Rhoades(NEW YORK) -- A Virginia mom is hoping to raise awareness of pediatric cancer by sharing a tearful video of herself reading a letter she wrote to her recently deceased daughter.
"The day that she passed, I wrote it that morning - after I got back from the hospital," Lindsay Rhoades, of Herndon, Virginia, told ABC News today. "I read it at her service. I've written letters to Kate for a long stretch of time, but this particular letter I thought about all the things I wanted to say to her if I had the opportunity to say them to her."
Rhoades, 39, said her daughter Kate was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the summer of 2013 and completed her treatments in September 2015.
But on Jan. 11 blood work revealed that Kate had relapsed and one day later, she died at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia. She was just 4 years old.
"She did so well through treatment and she was perfect, so this was truly the ultimate shock," Rhoades said. "It was absolutely the most gut-wrenching [feeling].... There's a lot of guilt wondering if there's something we could’ve done differently ... and utter disbelief because she was are only child and she just started living.
"She was an angel," Rhoades added. "She was very patient, very gentle, very studious, very, very sweet. She had a big place in her heart for other people that didn’t feel well.... She was also funny - so, so funny. She would’ve done big things, I think."
On Feb. 5, Rhoades said Mike Gillette, founder of The Truth 365, a social media campaign for children fighting cancer, encouraged her to appear in one of his videos, after hearing her read a letter she wrote to Kate at her funeral. It reads, in part:
"Our Dearest, Darling, Kate,
"Did you know how much we love you? How many times a day did we tell you while we kissed your sweet cheek? If you knew even half as much as we hoped you would, then we did our job as your mommy and daddy.
"... We always wanted to be your mommy and daddy, you know. We dreamed about who you would become, what music you would like and who your first crush would be. I was secretly excited to find out who your first boy band would be so that I could pretend to like their music for you. We wondered how you would like school. Would you be athletic or studious? Where might you go to college and what would you study? This nightmare of never knowing who you will grow up to be will haunt us for the rest of our lives - forever for, they say.
"Since 4 is the forever we were given, I'd say it was a mighty fine 4, and without even knowing it, we spent the last four months building one heck of a lifetime together.... Kit-Kat, we promise that your life will be remembered for the cheerful, bubbly, way you lived, and that your beautiful spirit will be with us forever.
"... God only knows how we'll get along without your sweet face, adorable voice and cheeky grin. When you see him, ask him if he has any pointers on that. Then come by and share them with us. Maybe through a pretty snowfall out back this winter, a breezy day hammocking this spring and the smell of the honeysuckle you loved in our backyard this summer, or as a beautiful fox in our front yard. Come visit us, baby, We know you can't stay. Just promise you'll come...."
The video, titled "Letter to Kate," has been viewed more than 124,000 times since being posted on The Truth 365's Facebook page.
"The part toward the end, we talk about how we will not let her passing be in vain," Rhoades said. "We want to to raise awareness for pediatric cancer and ultimately for a cure. When she passed, I promised we will not let it be for nothing. We will do big things in her name."
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 9-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis saw his wish to be Iron Man come true when the entire city of Sydney, Australia, got behind him and turned him into "Iron Boy" for the day.
Domenic Pace even got a shout-out from Iron Man himself, Robert Downey, Jr., who played the superhero on the big screen.
The actor tweeted about Pace’s "top secret mission" on Wednesday.
Domenic’s mom told Make-A-Wish Australia, which coordinated Domenic’s adventure, that he would only answer to “Tony” (Tony Stark, or Iron Man) starting at a young age.
On Wednesday, Domenic was whisked to New South Wales police headquarters via a helicopter and outfitted in an Iron Boy costume.
He was then taken to a nearby island to help rescue a Make-A-Wish news reporter who had “been kidnapped by Ultron’s henchmen,” according to Make-A-Wish Australia.
Domenic, as Iron Boy, then traveled back to Sydney, where he defeated Ultron on the steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
In an epic conclusion to the day, Downey recorded a special video message for Domenic and made him an honorary member of the Avengers.
News outlets throughout Australia and the world tweeted about Domenic's day, which was reminiscent of the day in the U.S. nearly two years ago when San Francisco transformed into Gotham City to fulfill a then-5-year-old boy's wish to be Batman for a day.
Shivam Saxena/Hindustan Times via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Wrestling star Daniel Bryan announced his retirement Monday, citing multiple concussions he sustained over his 16-year career.
Speaking at a WWE event, he revealed that doctors had already found evidence that repeated head injuries had affected his brain.
"Within the first five months of my wrestling career, I already had three concussions," he said. "It gets to the point that when you've been wrestling for 16 years, that adds up to a lot of concussions."
Bryan spoke on ESPN about why he retired despite his popularity with fans.
"You have a responsibility to yourself, your family, your friends just to protect yourself," he said this week.
Bryan clarified that he did not blame the WWE for his injuries or his early retirement. He noted that the WWE even stopped him from wrestling after his last concussion despite multiple doctors saying he could compete.
Concussions from professional sports have gained attention in recent years due to new findings about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopahty (CTE).
The degenerative disease involves a buildup of the abnormal protein called tao, which is also found in Alzheimer's patients and is associated with a breakdown of brain tissue. It's believed to be caused by repetitive trauma to the brain, according to the CTE Center at Boston University. Symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety and progressive dementia.
Multiple NFL, soccer and baseball players have been diagnosed with CTE after their death.
Bryan did not specifically mention CTE in his retirement speech because the disease can only be definitively diagnosed postmortem.
Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For expecting mothers, planning for the arrival of a newborn is a challenging activity that can be overwhelming for many women.
The list of essential items include furniture, baby gadgets and best ways to pack a bag for the hospital. Based on this list, many women just don't know where to start.
That’s where Big City Moms comes in. A company founded by Risa Goldberg and Leslie Venokur has become a trusted destination for moms, moms-to-be, and families where they can find the latest and hottest essentials for a modern parenting lifestyle.
ABC News’ Sara Haines is expecting in March and she met with Leslie and Risa at Buy Buy Baby in New York City to gather all of the essentials any expectant mother needs to pack in her bag for the hospital and birth of the baby.
Big City Moms recommends packing two bags for your hospital stay: one for labor and delivery and one for your hospital stay. Additionally, expecting moms should bring along a third empty bag for all of the items you will receive from the hospital to care for yourself and your newborn.
Photodisc/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Some weight loss centers may not be following medical standards for weight loss, a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University finds.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Obesity, found that the programs in question may not adhere to weight management guidelines set by the American Heart Association (AMA), the American College of Cardiology and the Obesity Society.
The researchers reviewed 191 weight loss centers in the Maryland-Washington, D.C.-Virginia corridor in several categories -- including diet and exercise -- and found that only 1 percent of all of these centers followed all recommended medical guidelines. Fewer than 1 in 3 were physician-supervised and only 3 percent of centers reported advising the proper amount of physical activity.
The AMA recommends that adults aim for 150 minutes or more of moderate exercise each week to ward off heart disease and stroke.
ABC News’ Dr. Jennifer Ashton appeared on Good Morning America Thursday to discuss what the findings mean for people who are trying to lose weight. An estimated two-thirds of all adults in the U.S. are considered to be overweight or obese, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
WPVI-TV(VOORHEES, N.J.) -- Twin sisters from New Jersey were so in sync they even ended up having their babies within minutes of one another.
Stephanie Edginton and Nicole Montgomery welcomed their daughters, Cora and Louisa, respectively, on Monday at the Viruta Hospital in Voorhees, New Jersey.
Edginton said she was actually overdue when she delivered on Monday.
"We actually had a doctor's appointment today because we were due on Friday," she told ABC's Philadelphia station WPVI-TV. "We got there and they were like 'you have to go to the hospital' and we get a call that Nicole and Rich are on their way, too."
The sisters told WPVI-TV they were born just three minutes apart. Their two daughters may have doubled that time by being born six minutes apart, but these first cousins will still share a birthday.
The couples did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ABC News sent through the hospital.
iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor
There's a lot of confusion when it comes to mammograms.
When should you get one? When should you not get one? It's a complex issue and the recommendations appear to always be changing. So what do you need to know?
As a board-certified OB/GYN, I follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' recommendations, which say to start screening the average risk woman starting at age 40 and have a mammogram every year.
What I worry about is the term "average risk" because we know that the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer were average until the time of their diagnosis.