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New Netflix Series 'Away' Highlights Rare Disease

What happened: Netflix’s new series “Away” showcases the reality of living with a condition that affects close to 1 in 200 people. The series follows astronaut Emma Green, played by Hillary Swank, who is the commander of the very first mission to Mars. Her husband, Matt Logan (Josh Charles), lives with cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM) and has a brain bleed just before her launch. The drama series premiered Sept. 4 and currently has one season available.

 The Frontlines: Cerebral cavernous malformation disease is a relatively rare disease that causes “caverns” to form along the vascular network of the brain and spinal cord. These malformations can bleed and cause severe neurological symptoms or even death.

  • Neurological symptoms can include seizures, headaches, paralysis and cerebral hemorrhage. However, it’s possible that close to 40% of people with these malformations will never have symptoms or be diagnosed.
  • The condition encompasses cavernous angiomas and cavernous hemangiomas.
  • The diseases can happen sporadically but it can also run in families. The disease is more likely to be inherited if the patient has multiple lesions. Familial cases are thought to be caused by a mutation of one of the CCM1 (KRIT1), CCM2, or CCM3 (PDCD10) genes. Familial incidences account for about 20% of cases.
  • Children with a parent who has CCM have a 50% chance of also having the condition.
  • Treatment often involves surgery although several medications are under development to improve the way blood vessels function and prevent additional lesions.

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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Candelaria Romero, shared her experience being diagnosed with a cavernous angioma. She said, “Being told that you may not wake up from a risky brain surgery or that you’re never going to walk again without a cane can be seriously detrimental to a person’s mental health. As someone who ran four miles a day, I couldn’t imagine not being able to walk on my own. But I have learned through this tumultuous journey that a person’s strength, determination, and support system can make a world of difference.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

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Other things to know: CCM is just one condition that can cause bleeding in the brain. Here is what Mighty contributors are saying about living with conditions that cause cerebral hemorrhaging:

How to take action: You can watch the trailer for “Away” below and learn more about CCM and resources available by visiting the Angioma Alliance.

Header image via Netflix/YouTube