America’s Got Talent’s Barbara Padilla is a Cancer Survivor

One of most talented contestants of this year’s America’s Got Talent is Texas native, singer Barbara Padilla.  She has said on the show that she is a cancer survivor, but did not say what kind of cancer she had. According to her website (http://www.barbarapadilla.com/page2.html):

“Barbara was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.  During this time Barbara was told that she may never be able to sing again as the radiation could harm her vocalchords.  She was in treatment for several years and was near death onmore than one occasion, but her faith, family and friends helped her through those difficult times.”

Hodgkin’s Disease (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) is named for the physician who first described the disease- Dr. Thomas Hodgkin. It is a cancer of the immune system, specifically of infection-fighting lymph cells (lymphocytes) found in lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow. It is most common in two different age groups- 15-40 year-olds,and those over 55 years old. In Hodgkin’s Disease, lymphocytes are transformed into much larger cells called Reed-Sternberg cells, which have the ability to divide in an uncontrolled manner, thus spreading throughout the body.Symptoms of Hodgkin’s Disease include:

  • painless swelling of the lymph nodes, especially in the neck, armpits, or groin
  • fever and chills
  • night sweats
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • itchy skin

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As in most other kinds of cancer,treatment and prognosis are related to “staging” of the disease.  What this means is how far along is the cancer? Is it localized to one area?Has it spread to local lymph nodes? Can it be found in other, more distant organs? For lymphoma in particular- are there tumor cells in the bone marrow. Treatment usually consists of chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both. Fortunately for patients with Hodgkin’s Disease, the prognosis has improved dramatically over the years. Today the survival rate for Hodgkin’s lymphoma is generally 90% or higher when the disease is detected during early stages, making it one of the more curable forms of cancer.

Back in May, we reported on another celebrity affected by Hodgkin’s Disease, Ethan Zohn, who said that the most frightening aspects of his disease are the medical bills, even though he had what he considered “decent” health insurance.

Resounding Health e-book on Hodgkin’s Disease

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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