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Monday March 27, 2017 @ 02:58:33 PM mt

How these 4 people learned to live with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis.




When Carrie moved to Nashville to chase her dream of being a country music star, she ended up meeting the love of her life.

While performing at the Long Hollow Jamboree, Carrie met David, a guitar player. Two days later, they went on their first date, and they were married the very next year.

The newlyweds traveled the country playing music for six years and then decided to settle down. They had a baby girl. Their lives were happy, and everything seemed to be going according to plan.

Shortly after Carrie gave birth, her leg started throbbing in pain. She also felt weakness on her right side.

Carrie had felt fatigued for a while, but she chalked it up to being a new mom. After all, who isnt tired with a new baby?

But then, while visiting her parents, she suddenly became so dizzy that she walked straight into a wall. A few days later, the right side of her face was paralyzed and she couldnt move her right eye.

Carrie and her daughter, who is now 14. Image via MS Lifelines.

At the hospital, the doctors told Carrie that she had multiple sclerosis, or MS.

MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide, and there is no cure. It not only can be painful, but it can also cause a range of symptoms such as balance issues, vision problems, muscle stiffness or weakness, and mobility problems. Thats because MS causes the immune system to attack the brain and spinal cord's nerves interrupting communication between the brain and body.

Carrie and her husband, David, were scared of the MS diagnosis.

"All I could think was that I had an 11-month-old baby that I couldnt take care of and a future with my husband that I was missing," Carrie wrote when she shared her experience through My Story on MS Lifelines.

"I didnt know if I could be a mother, wife or a musician anymore. It felt like MS was taking over our lives," she wrote.

"I would shed tears watching her walk down the hall and literally bounce off the walls because the vertigo made her too dizzy to walk a straight line," David wrote on My Story. "She had issues with her eyes and couldnt see well enough to even change our baby's diaper."

Despite their fears, David and Carrie educated themselves about MS. Carrie started treatment and met other people living with MS. Eventually, she was able to return to living her life, and now, her and David's love is as strong as ever.

"No matter how my life may shift, what twists and turns it may take, there will always be one enduring truth at its core: Carrie is the love of my life," wrote David.

Today, they both share their stories as a way to help cope with the diagnosis and to help others who may be facing a similar situation.

Carrie and David. Image via MS Lifelines.

Talking about the experience of having MS or another chronic disease can be helpful when dealing with the stresses of an illness.

Storytelling may help people cope with the stresses and challenges of living with a chronic condition. It allows them to talk about what they are going through, identify any needs they have, and learn from others.

Storytelling can even help patients come to terms with their diagnosis because reading or listening to someone else's story can help them identify with the storyteller.

My Story, a new online platform offered through EMD Seronos MS Lifelines, allows people with MS and their loved ones to come together and share their stories, experience, and strength so no one feels alone or overwhelmed by their diagnosis.

One study found that people who write a personal narrative can feel a sense of empowerment.

That is part of the reason why Dave, another individual with MS, decided to share his experience. He wanted to support others.

Dave Lyons, who was diagnosed with MS when he was 47. Image via MS Lifelines.

"Being diagnosed with MS can be overwhelming, but you can't let it define you, defeat you, or hold you down," said Dave. He is a fitness expert who was diagnosed with MS at age 47. Today, despite "bad" days where he has muscle weakness, numbness, and fatigue, he is finding a way to do what he loves: working out. He also wrote a book about fitness with adaptable exercises for people with MS.

Diane, who also has MS. Image via MS Lifelines.

Diane, who also has MS, understands how powerful hearing someone elses story can be because hearing someone elses story inspired her.

"At one of the MS events I attended, I met a lady with a pink cane decked out with rhinestones and glitter. She told me, 'If I have to use a cane, its going to be the prettiest one I can find,'" Diane said. "Her pink cane and her attitude have really stuck with me over the years."

With the love and support of their families and the MS community, Carrie, Dave, and Diane are still living life to the fullest. And by sharing their story with others, they are helping others do it too.


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Monday March 27, 2017 @ 01:47:12 PM mt

When her 5-year-old broke his leg this mom raised 0. It's actually inspiring.




Freddie Teer is a normal 7-year-old boy. He loves Legos, skateboarding, and horsing around with his older brother Ollie. But two years ago, his mother faced every parent's worst nightmare.

Photo via iStock.

Freddie was doing tricks down the stairs of his front porch when he fell off his bike and his bike fell on him.

"[He was] just crying, wouldnt let us touch his leg, couldnt put any weight on his leg. We knew," mom Ashley says.

Ashley rushed Freddie to the emergency room, where an X-ray confirmed the bones in his left shin were broken in half. He needed to be sedated, his bones set and put in a cast. It was an agonizing day for the Teers. But it's what happened next that was truly inspiring.

We've all seen heartwarming stories of communities coming together to raise money online to help people cover medical care for themselves and loved ones.

There was the Kentucky mom with stage 4 cancer whose family collected over $1 million. The New Orleans police officer whose unit banked thousands for her chemotherapy. The Colorado man who lost his legs and whose friends crowdfunded his recovery.

While Freddie's injury required major treatment, none of Ashley's friends raised any money for him.

No one from their town took up a collection or held a bake sale.

No GoFundMe page was started to help cover his bills.

Instead, Ashley and Freddie walked out of the hospital owing nothing. Because they live in Canada.

"You just leave," Ashley says. "You dont pay anything."

Incredible.

Canada. Photo by Monam/Pixabay.

Canada is a country of 36 million people, just north of Minnesota. Under Canadas health care system, people like the Teers can see their doctors and go to the hospital when they're hurt or sick, and they don't get charged.

So heartwarming.

It almost wasn't this way.

Ashley was born and raised in St. Louis, a town in the United States, where health care is expensive and complicated. 12 years ago, she made the inspiring decision to fall in love with a Canadian man and move with him to Abbotsford, British Columbia, where they and their five children will enjoy heavily subsidized, affordable health care coverage at a low premium for the remainder of their natural lives.

"Were able to go when we need help and we get help," Ashley says.

Just amazing.

As Freddie recovered, no one showed up at the Teer home with a large check or collection plate full of cash.

Instead, Ashley and her family were "supported through meals and just that kind of care" meals they were able to enjoy without having to decide between enduring the shame of hitting up their friends for money or facing the prospect of sliding into bankruptcy.

Freddie (right) and his brother Ollie. Photo by Ashley Teer.

The most uplifting part? Middle-income Canadians like the Teers pay taxes at roughly the same rates as Americans and still get their bones fixed for free at hospitals.

Not everything about Freddie's recovery process was smooth.

The first night, Freddie tossed and turned in severe pain, unable to sleep. Ashley, however, was able to call her family doctor who she never has to pay since he is compensated by a public system that continues to have overwhelming public support to this day to get her son a codeine prescription. Miraculous!

Canada's public health care plan doesn't cover drugs. But, inspiringly, because of price controls, medicine is way cheaper there.

The Teers did lean on their friends and family for help while Freddie got better.

"We were kind of just asking people to pray," she explains primarily to lift her son's spirits, and not, thankfully, to ask God to provide sufficient funds to cover basic medical care that every human living in a fair and prosperous society should have access to.

Even though he wasn't able to move around, friends and relatives eagerly invited Freddie to hang out during his recovery instead avoiding him out of guilt for not pledging enough to his GoFundMe campaign.

Freddie shucks corn in his cast. Photo by Ashley Teer.

Just. Wow.

With support from his community support that didn't include a single dollar Freddie's cast came off six weeks later, right on schedule.

Healthy once more, Freddie went right back to enjoying extreme sports like BMX biking, skateboarding, and snowboarding, and Ashley is free to let him enjoy them without worrying about one fall wiping out their entire life savings and leaving her family destitute.

"Where we live, were not stressful when things happen to our kids," Ashley says. "Its not a stressful time financially, so the whole family is not anxious."

It's peace of mind that she and the residents of virtually every other rational, wealthy, industrialized country in the world share.

"I feel safe, and I feel like my voice is heard," she says. "I cant imagine living in a place that I didnt feel that way."

Inspiring.


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Monday March 27, 2017 @ 01:47:12 PM mt

'Be careful she'll blow up' he said. I'm Iranian. This was my response.




Back in July, I had a racist encounter. I say "encounter" because when you have skin as light as mine, experiences with racism can feel pretty alien.

All napkin illustrations by Anisa Rawhani. Used with permission.

I should start from the beginning.

My boyfriend and I hop on the subway. The man standing next to us strikes up a conversation. We laugh and chat, enjoying the company of a stranger.

Then the man begins to speculate about my white boyfriends background, to which he responds that hes British.

Then its my turn.

And you, you must be Portuguese or Italian, the man says.

Im actually Persian-Iranian.

The man turns to my boyfriend.

Be careful. Shes going to blow up.

Unwanted attention. Everyone has experienced it, albeit to varying degrees.

Most women experience it when theyre belittled because of their gender. Catcalls, harassment, day-to-day indignities all to make us feel like we dont have a right to the space were occupying.

None of that is new to me, and each time one of these gender-based indignities happens, I grow a little less shocked and a little more outraged. Each incident piles on and crawls further under my skin, echoing every other time its happened to me or a friend.

But when I heard a man say Id blow up, I entered uncharted territory. Suddenly, my race was the target.

At first, neither of us understood what he meant. My boyfriend thought "blow up" implied Id get emotional. I thought it meant Id get fat. Seeing our confused expressions the man clarified: He was talking about bombs.

Maybe if hed said that to someone browner someone more "ethnic" the penny would have dropped faster. When it finally did, I remember feeling shocked and disappointed. That was about it.

It wasnt like those times men harassed me because of my gender. This mans words didnt inspire deep emotions because there were no memories to be recalled. There was no wound for him to reopen and exploit.

Indifference in the face of racism is an unbelievable luxury.

That someone was unable to cause me pain or reduce me to a feeling of nothingness with mere words is not a mark of my own strength, but a mark of my experiences or lack thereof.

That Im not insecure about my race isnt because Im a confident woman; its because I so rarely have to think about it. Im not constantly being reminded.

After the man on the subway clarified what blowing up meant, I remember:

Feeling my face fall, seeing my boyfriends jaw flex, the man sensing the change and backtracking because we were taking what he said too seriously. He wasnt racist. His girlfriend was Indian and Muslim, which he explained smugly.

When I see racism from the outside I leap to my feet; Im ready to take on anything. But when it was about me, I couldn't do it.

I just wanted to be as far from that man as possible.

In the time that immediately followed, I thought about all my non-white friends whod confided in me about moments like this. I thought back on all the times my friends told me about racist encounters with classmates, professors, and strangers. How often Id thought: Why didnt you do anything?

I know now what an unfair standard that was.

When you become the target of racism, youre stripped of valid choices. That doesnt mean youre powerless, but youre working within a set of circumstances that are fundamentally unjust. Youre expected to rise to the occasion when someones attempted to strike you down. Its easy for people with their feet planted firmly beneath them to say stand up for yourself.

Weve all heard about racist incidents many far more disturbing than what I described. Many of us (myself included) would like to think if we were in that situation wed have a witty response on hand or at the very least that wed give them a piece of our mind.

Its rarely so simple.

Option A: You can try to back up and disengage.

Option B: You can blow up. You have every right to be upset, so you confront the persons prejudice. You make it clear just how out of line they are.

Option C: You can speak up. When youre the victim of a racist incident, youre immediately racialized. When you speak, you arent speaking as yourself, youre speaking as an ambassador of "your people." Thats a lot of pressure.

Its great in theory, but difficult and emotionally taxing in practice, especially when youre not exactly prepared for it.

Whether someone speaks harmful words out of ignorance or because they have deep-rooted hatred, they tend to grow defensive very quickly when confronted with their indiscretion.

Not every ear is willing to listen, not every person is worth pursuing, and its not the responsibility of victims to educate their assailants.

For those of us who arent victims (or rarely are), remember that raising expectations and what-ifs, or questioning why a victim responded the way they did, isnt helpful.

After the man rambled on about why what he said wasnt offensive, the train started to slow and my boyfriend said this was our stop. We left the car and waited on the platform for the next train to come.

Some things about this incident remain unclear, but one thing I know for certain: As I waited on that subway platform for the next train to come, I was sure glad I wasnt alone.

This post first appeared on Raw Honey and is reprinted here with permission.


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Monday March 27, 2017 @ 01:53:00 AM mt

Old saris have a second use: They can protect people from a deadly bacteria in water.




For many of us here in the U.S., cholera is something we only know about from a book that we read in high school.

But for millions of people around the world, this disease is a very real threat to their health simply because they don't have access to clean drinking water.

So, what if there were an easy way to filter out cholera-causing bacteria from water?

Image via iStock.

That is exactly the question that marine microbiologist Rita Colwell pondered while she was on a research trip in Bangladesh.

She had been studying the bacterium that causes cholera, called Vibrio cholerae, for decades and had made a series of important discoveries about it with her colleagues. For example, they had learned the bacteria could survive in both fresh- and seawater and that it was the primary bacteria attached to copepods, microscopic crustaceans and plankton that live in water all over the world.

But up until then, their research had focused mostly on the bacteria and the environment where it was found not on any practical solutions that might help people not get sick.

"It occurred to us, well, my goodness, in all the work we are doing, clearly we could do something for the village families who get cholera," Colwell says.

An electron microscope image of V. cholerae bacteria, which causes cholera. Image via Dartmouth University/Wikimedia Commons.

Cholera is a deadly diarrheal disease caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or water.

While this disease has been rare in the United States for over a century, it is still a serious problem throughout the developing world, including in Bangladesh, where access to clean drinking water can be difficult. In fact, according to the World Health Organization,between 1.3 to 4 million people get sick with cholera every year, and as many as 143,000 people die from it.

In rural Bangladesh, where Colwell was working, cholera was a serious problem because women would scoop drinking surface water directly from canals, rivers, and lakes. There was no filtration, and there wasnt enough fuel, like firewood, available for families to boil water every day.

Colwell and her colleagues realized that if they could devise a crude, inexpensive filter to strain the copepods (which the V. cholerae bacteria are attached to) from the water, maybe they could help people protect themselves from the disease.

They started by testing out T-shirt material, but that didnt work. It was difficult to rinse, it didnt dry, and a lot of debris in the water got through the weave in the fabric.

Then they tried sari cloth the same cloth that women in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal have worn for thousands of years. It's also a cloth that women in rural Bangladesh already were using to prepare home-brewed drinks.

Sari cloth has been used as traditional clothing for centuries in the region. Image via iStock.

It worked.

The sari fabric, when it was folded four times over the urns used to gather water, created a mesh filter that was effective enough to remove 99% of the bacteria attached to the plankton copepods that cause the cholera.

Not only that, but the cloth could be reused over and over again, making it a very practical and inexpensive solution. Thats because the cloth is light and porous, Colwell explains. "Because it rains with monsoons every day [there], the sari cloth is designed to dry quickly. So, what is nice about it is that you can unfold it, rinse it off, and then hang it up. It dries and then you can re-use it."

Colwell and her colleagues taught villagers how to make their own sari filters in 65 rural Bangladeshi villages, and over three years, she says, "we were able to show a 50% reduction in cholera."

Folded four times over a water collection urn, sari cloth can reduce the amount of cholera in drinking water. Image via iStock.

The team returned to the villages five years later and found that news of the filters had spread to other villages. As many as 75% of the population in these villages were using these filters.

And, Colwell says, they discovered something called the "herd effect" taking place even if villagers werent filtering water themselves, fewer people were getting sick because fewer people were shedding the bacteria back into the water. "By virtue of all their neighbors staying healthy because they filtered," she explains, "they were not exposed to the larger numbers of bacteria themselves."

Of course, the filter isn't 100% effective at catching cholera-causing bacteria. Still, Colwell says there is power in this simple solution.

According to UNICEF, 663 million people do not have access to clean water around the world. Not only that, almost 2.4 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation.

There are a lot of high-tech solutions out there that try to address the problem of access to clean water, she says, and there are a lot of ways to work to combat the spread of cholera. But sometimes, it is the simple, inexpensive solutions such as the sari filter that can do a lot of good.

A view of rural Bangladesh. Image via Balaram Mahalder/Wikimedia Commons.

With more education about how the sari can be used, she says, it can make a difference for public health in regions where there isnt access to clean water. Sari filters could even be useful in the aftermaths of large hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters all over the world, she adds.

Colwell and her colleagues hope to spread the word about sari filters to other places, such as Africa and other regions in Asia, where inexpensive solutions have the potential to make a big impact.


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Monday March 27, 2017 @ 01:53:00 AM mt

A guilt-free doctor-approved guide to indulging when you need it.



Seriously. Doctor's orders.


Self-care is a term for the things we do for ourselves to manage stress and to maintain or improve our health.

But we're diverse people from all walks of life, so self-care naturally means something different to each of us. In recent years, the self-care conversation has attracted everyone from fitness trainers to spiritual coaches to activists.

But what might an actual health expert have to say about self-care?

Meet Stuart. That's short for Dr. Stuart Lustig, M.D., M.P.H.

Lustig harvests greens from his backyard garden on a sunny day in San Francisco, California. Photo by Maz Ali/Upworthy.

Lustig is a psychiatrist for children and adults and supports doctors all over the country. Self-care, as you might guess, comes up in his work pretty frequently, for all sorts of reasons and for both patients and health care professionals. Over the years, he's stood by one piece of advice when it comes to self-care and stress management: "Have a PLAN for yourself."

PLAN is an acronym representing the most basic components of a sound self-care strategy.

P is for a period of time.

Image via iStock.

"It should be regularly planned time that's yours alone to do what you want with it," he says. On most nights, for example, Lustig knows he can count on at least 30 minutes of relaxation once his kid's tucked in and his wife starts her own self-care rituals.

L is for a location.

Image via iStock.

Think of it as your "happy place." Have a few locations in mind that put you at ease and that are easily accessible and reliably there for you, whether it's your bedroom, your favorite caf, your gym or yoga studio, or the nature trail just beyond your fence. One of Lustig's go-to places is his backyard, amid the beauty and abundance of his garden.

A is for an activity.

Lustig also happens to be a beast on the piano. Photo by Maz Ali/Upworthy.

"When we ask people, 'What's your activity?' we'll get responses like, 'brushing my teeth,'" he says. "Sure, that's good hygiene, but it's not long enough, and we kind of have to do that. Or we hear things like, 'going on vacation.' But how often can you do that?" Instead, he says, choose activities you want to do and that you can integrate into your regular schedule. As for Lustig, he finds escape in the intricacies of classical compositions right from his piano bench.

N is for the name of someone you can count on.

Image via iStock.

"For some people, its their mother or their best friend. For some, its a therapist," Lustig says. The idea is to have that someone who will listen to what youre going through, empathize with you, and share with you in that moment to help relieve stress.

How will you know if your self-care practices are actually working?

According to Lustig, to commit to better self-care is to acknowledge that you deserve time to yourself, to accept that it's OK to indulge a little so long as it doesn't engender too much guilt and to "turn off" the parts of your brain that are overworked.

Image via iStock.

If you're doing self-care well, you'll feel it. Your stress will become more manageable. You'll tackle the tasks and challenges of your day with greater ease. And you may even begin to feel better physically.

"When were stressed mentally, we have a lot of physical problems as a result," he says. "We have more headaches, we have more ulcers, we have more back and joint pain, and we go in for all sorts of other things."

Mental stress also triggers behaviors that can make matters worse, like eating more unhealthy foods or retreating into extended periods of inactivity. "As a result, your cholesterol goes up, your blood sugar goes up, and so on," he says.

Cigna's Go. Know. Take Control. preventive health campaign educates people about their four health numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and body mass index. Images by Cigna.

Self-care has the potential to make the world a better place one person, one family, one community at a time.

"When were in a good space, we do a better job of communicating and understanding each others' perspectives," Lustig says, channeling his own experience as a husband and father. "When its been a long day and were exhausted, we are not terribly empathic."

Image via iStock.

"When we feel we have everything we need for ourselves, were more generous and willing to share what we have more openly and lovingly," he adds.

He then closed with a final doctorly reminder to take good care: "Get your needs met your physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, cultural needs, community needs, all of it and well all be much better off.


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Monday March 27, 2017 @ 01:52:59 AM mt

The president might not accept climate change but the secretary of defense sure does.




President Donald Trump might not accept climate change, but there's at least one person in his administration who does:his secretary of defense, James Mattis.

Image from Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Trump is proposing large budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among others, and he has called climate change an outright hoax. But as ProPublica reported, Secretary of Defense James Mattis not only accepts it but is treating it as a serious challenge to national defense.

The comments came in unpublished written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that was requested as part of his confirmation.

The military's job is to prepare for the worst, so maybe it's no surprise they'd be interested in the changing climate.

At home, thawing permafrost is eroding the land out from under radar stations in Alaska. Wildfires and floods are interrupting training in the western states. Rising seas are inundating the Navy's Atlantic headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, and may sink a $1 billion radar station in the Marshall Islands.

Thawing permafrost destabilized this building in the Alaskan village of Shishmaref. Image from Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images.

Abroad, droughts and other stresses from climate change can stoke the fires of political instability and cause mass migrations. It may have influenced the Syrian civil war. The Navy will have to deal with an ice-free Arctic.

"Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon," Mattis said.

Military experts have previously warned the Trump administration about the dangers of climate change. Both Mattis and the Defense Department have been aware of and preparing for climate change for more than a decade. Mattis has consistently talked about addressing climate change before.

In an administration that is antagonistic toward dealing with climate change, Mattis could be a voice of reason on this issue.

Climate change is going to affect almost everything, from our environment to our economy to our military. So it's refreshing to see that someone is taking it seriously.


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Monday March 27, 2017 @ 01:52:59 AM mt

Planned Parenthood's brilliant new ad features an unexpected supporter: Donald Trump.



Millions of women rely on Planned Parenthood for lifesaving care.


In 2013, Jaime Benner discovered a lump in her right breast. She credits Planned Parenthood with saving her life.

Her primary care provider couldn't get her in for a screening for three weeks. Not only was Planned Parenthood able to get her in for an appointment that day, but they stood with her through the process of getting a referral for an emergency mammogram and beyond.

"The radiologist report came back inconclusive," she says. "But Planned Parenthood refused to accept that answer and sent me for further testing."

Two and a half weeks later, she underwent a complete radical mastectomy. "By the time I had my mastectomy, which was only a few weeks later, my cancer was spreading into my lymphatic system," she adds. "A day could have been the difference between the stage 3b cancer I had and stage 4."

Benner is the face of a new campaign to help save the organization's federal funding in a video that features an unexpected voice of support: Donald Trump.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump occasionally toed the Republican Party line in opposition to Planned Parenthood while other times he spoke frankly, sharing a important truths about just how vital the organization's services are to millions of people.

In a new 30-second ad for Planned Parenthood, Benner tells her own story, accompanied by clips of Trump, speaking in his own words about why Planned Parenthood matters. The video includes the notable moment from a Republican primary debate when he said, "Millions and millions of women cervical cancer, breast cancer are helped by Planned Parenthood."

That wasnt the only time Trump defended Planned Parenthood. In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity in August 2015, Trump debunked the idea that the group is first and foremost an abortion provider a claim that serves as the source of much of the controversy surrounding the organization correctly noting that abortion is "actually a fairly small part of what they do."

If Planned Parenthood weren't around, people like Benner couldnt just go somewhere else. There arent other local health clinics that can cover that patient load.

A recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that defunding Planned Parenthood would have a disastrous effect on womens health care options, especially those who rely on Medicaid.

"Not only did Planned Parenthood get me the testing I needed to find out I had cancer, they got everything together to get me Medicaid so I would have coverage," Benner says. "I'm not sure if you've ever looked into the costs associated with cancer, but one shot I used after chemo was $7,000 a syringe each time. I'm sure most average people couldn't afford to purchase one of those every two weeks."

Benner underwent aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Image via Planned Parenthood Action/YouTube.

Benner isn't alone. It's estimated that 1 in 5 women in the U.S. has visited a Planned Parenthood health center. While Republican politicians have the organization in their crosshairs, a majority of Americans (including a majority of Republicans, as a group) oppose cutting off funds to Planned Parenthood, with a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll finding that 75% of the public opposes cutting the group's funding.

Planned Parenthood is a lifeline for people of all political ideologies, and Donald Trump clearly knows it. The question remains, however, whether he and others will cut it off anyway.

"We have to help women," Trump said during the 2015 interview with Hannity. "A lot of women are helped [by Planned Parenthood]."

Now stuck between his pledge to "help women" and his promise to defund Planned Parenthood, Trump needs to choose one or the other. Benner, and millions of women like her, hope hell stand on the side of survivors.

GIF from Fox News/YouTube.

Using Trump's own words to make a point about why it's necessary to save Planned Parenthood is a pretty genius and hopefully effective move.

Watch Brenner and Trump make the case for protecting Planned Parenthood in 30 seconds below.


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Monday March 27, 2017 @ 01:52:59 AM mt

'Absolutely devastating': How Trumpcare would affect the fight against HIV.




Matthew Limpede takes a pill that gives him protection, peace of mind, and a reassuring sense of community.

That pill is the drug Truvada, more commonly referred to as "PrEP" (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis). And it's been a game-changer in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

"I think for the whole [gay] community and for me personally, [PrEP has] lifted us up to a place of being more responsible for our own health," Limpede explains.

If taken as directed, PrEP is 99% effective in stopping the transmission of HIV. It's mostly used by HIV-negative men and women who are more at risk of exposure to the virus.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Limpede.

From Limpede's own experiences, the drug isn't just about personal protection, either it has encouraged more gay and bisexual men to have important conversations about staying safe with their sexual partners, building a sense of openness and honesty within the LGBTQ community. Those conversations have helped destigmatize those who are HIV-positive, too, he says people who can live long and healthy lives while being sexually active.

The only way Limpede was able to get on PrEP was because of an insurance plan provided through the Affordable Care Act in 2014.

And he's definitely not the only one.

Jim Pickett, director of prevention advocacy and gay men's health at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, says about 110,000 people across the U.S. started using PrEP between 2012 and February 2017. The ACA played a big role in making that happen.

"PrEP is quite a robust intervention," he says. "It's not just a niche thing for gay men."

Photo illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Making PrEP more accessible has become an increasingly important component of a broader strategy to prevent HIV among groups most vulnerable to the virus, such as transgender women, gay men particularly gay men of color and cisgender (non-transgender) black women, according to Pickett.

While PrEP accessibility has grown significantly in the past few years, it's just the tip of the iceberg, Pickett says. About a million more people living at high risk of HIV exposure are good candidates to go on the drug if we can just keep expanding efforts where they're needed most.

Under the current Congress and administration, however, that's shaping up to be quite the tough task.

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, access to PrEP would take a blow, causing a major setback in our fight against HIV/AIDS.

Image via iStock.

Without health insurance, the price tag for PrEP is about $1,500 a month. With insurance, most people pay between $0 and $500.

Without significant help from an insurer, most Americans can't afford PrEP. Through the ACA's Medicaid expansion, which mostly helped low-income folks notably, the same groups most affected by HIV/AIDS PrEP was made accessible in 31 states plus Washington, D.C. Other patients, like Limpede, found the drug was available for free through their ACA plans.

This progress would be reversed under the American Health Care Act, the GOP's plan to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). In the new proposal one that would cause an estimated 24 million Americans to lose their health care coverage over the next decade the ACA's Medicaid expansion would phase out. As a result, thousands of people again, mostly the at-risk groups who desperately need it would lose access to PrEP.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

New HIV diagnoses fell 19% overall from 2005 to 2014, according to the CDC (although progress has been uneven depending on demographics, with some groups seeing increases). With repealing the ACA, we risk reversing this long-term trend.

"If Trumpcare were to be enacted as written, it would be a devastating blow to all of our HIV efforts, both care and prevention," Pickett says. "It would be absolutely devastating."

"If less people are on PrEP, we'll have more HIV infections," Pickett emphasizes. "HIV is forever that's a cost forever and that's an increased burden on a system that's overburdened."

Although living a long and healthy life while being HIV-positive is possible, that's only the case for people with access to ongoing health care and treatments that don't come cheap or easy.

For people like Limpede, who has even contemplated moving from Texas to Massachusetts if it means keeping his health care and PrEP access intact, tossing aside life-changing provisions isn't just politics as usual.

It's deeply personal.

"Repealing something like this that's going to hurt minorities, that's going to hurt people who are low on the socioeconomic scale. It feels very pointed and purposeful," he says. "That's definitely a concern."

Image via iStock.

The HIV/AIDS advocacy community is getting ready for a battle because this is a fight they can't afford to lose.

"The community's main focus now is making sure that Trumpcare does not see the light of day and stopping these harmful provisions in the bill from happening," Limpede says. "We're fighting tooth and nail."


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upworthy
Monday March 27, 2017 @ 01:52:59 AM mt

How Bechibila is turning dirty water into drinking water with a powder packet.




Growing up, Bechibila was worried about how she could help others.

She knew she wanted to make a difference; she just didn't know how. And that's OK. It takes time to figure out your calling.

All images via P&G.

But in time, she realized what she was meant to do: help tackle the urgent clean water problem plaguing her community.

Their only sources of drinking water are nearby rivers, which are always dirty. When they drink it, they get sick. But, it's also their only option, so the problem seemed insurmountable.

Still, Bechibila was ready to tackle it head on.

"No matter what situation you find yourself in," she says. "You can always turn things around."

See how she's doing just that in the video below:

Thanks to this little packet and her commitment to the community, she's showing her neighbors how to turn dirty river water into the clean drinking water they need.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Yes, turning dirty water into drinking water with powder is real.

And it's the main reason why Bechibila travels from community to community, helping educate as many people as she can about the life-changing benefits of this innovation.

Just imagine how many lives can be saved by making one of the developing world's scarcest resources much more accessible.

You just pour the powder into your water.

Give it a little mix.

And then watch as all the dirt settles to the bottom.

From there, all anyone has to do is filter the purified water through cloth, wait 20 minutes, and voil fresh, drinkable water.

Sadly, many communities without clean water still exist all around the world.

In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 319 million people still don't have access to a reliable water source. And drinking dirty water can lead to serious diseases, such as cholera, Guinea worm disease, and typhoid fever. On top of that, 42% of health care facilities in Africa don't have access to clean water. It's a vicious cycle that needs to be put to an end.

Luckily, more and more people like Bechibila are fighting to change that.

P&G works with organizations and clean water advocates around the world, and together they've provided 11 billion liters of clean water to families who need it. Billions more are still needed to help everyone affected by clean water shortages, but with innovations like P&G's Purifier of Water packets leading the way, we could see significant change sooner rather than later.

And no matter the obstacle, nothing will stop crusaders like Bechibila from moving forward and making a lasting impact.

The journey toward progress is never easy. There will always be challenges in our way. And there's no denying that the task is daunting. Still, little by little, step by step, we'll get to where we need to go.

When faced with adversity, Bechibila simply reminds herself, "I can still go around and help others by educating them about clean water."

"I will travel as far as my bicycle will take me."


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upworthy
Sunday March 26, 2017 @ 01:17:18 AM mt

Neil deGrasse Tyson's rational advice for life under an irrational administration.




Neil deGrasse Tyson for president?

That's what some people were shouting for during a recent appearance by the astrophysicist and pop-culture icon. Would he ever run? Tyson said, as he has before: "No. No. Uh, nooooo."

But that wasn't all he had to say on politics.

Surely no question gets just an easy "no" from Tyson. Photo by Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images.

While picking up the Lincoln Leadership Prize on March 10, he dropped five to-the-heart points for his fellow American citizens:

1. Why aren't there more scientists in government? Because people vote for charisma over knowledge.

Getting different types of people in office would mean "we have to really rethink what we are as a democracy," he said. "Voting for someone because of what they know what a concept!"

He makes it seem so mind-bogglingly simple. Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Popular Science.

2. Don't blame politicians. Blame voters.

"You voted for these people! ... If you have issues, your issues are not with the politician. Your issues are with your fellow voters," he said.

At first, it seems Tyson is repeating what so many do: Voters can just vote out leaders they don't like. But there's more to it, he explained, because just thinking this way that merely changing one person at the top will make everything be fine "implies that we're all just here, the electorate, and don't really matter."

Does Tyson have a fix for this kind of dysfunctional electorate? Oh, yes.

3. Fix the electorate by arming them with science!

"I will go to the electorate and say, 'Here is what science is and how and why it works, and here's how you can become empowered thinking that way,'" he explained.

It's the best kind of evil plan, isn't it?! There's no time for a presidency when you're already working to make a better government by arming voters with objective facts for their personal philosophies so they can be choosier about their leaders.

Knowledge really is power!

4. What about the EPA being headed by a climate-change denier? He says: Watch for actions, not just words.

The Trump-appointed Environmental Protection Agency head, Scott Pruitt, denies humans are causing climate change and has even sued the EPA multiple times. While you might expect a science whiz like Tyson to fire up arguments against a denier, he leaned on logic and voter responsibility.

"We live in a free country; you should think what you want," he said, and that includes Pruitt. But what the country can and must do is push back against misinformation when it turns to legislative and regulatory action.

5. Defending the truth means defending democracy.

"When people are fighting over what is actually true when we know what is true? I don't know what country that is," he said. "But what I do know is that it's the beginning of an end of an informed democracy when that happens."

Scientists often have a flair for the drama of impending doom, but these words genuinely strike loudly right now. How many of our friends' political discussions lately just seem like two siblings fighting over who's to blame for a party that left the house trashed? That's definitely not an informed democracy making any sort of progress, is it? Meanwhile, the objective fact is that something must be done about the mess.

So, take note, people of the electorate! Neil deGrasse Tyson is here to guide you.

He wouldn't be our president, but he's already giving us what we need to hear to make our own changes.


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