Wondering how to help after a tragic news story? This bot might have the answer.

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and it stimulates total sense if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. I am too.

Hurricane recovery, wildfires ripping along the West Coast, rising tensions with North Korea, repeated threats to the state of health care in this country, trans people being banned from the military, people from other countries being banned from traveling here, Title IX protections being reinterpreted, environmental protections being gutted, professional athletics becoming a divisive topic — the listing goes on and on.

Maybe one of these causes actually hits home for you. Maybe you want to help, but don’t know where to even start. I hear that, and as someone who is both plugged into current events and prone to anxiety attacks when will come forward with complicated situations, getting involved can be really overwhelming.

I’ve turned to robots for help. Yes, robots.

A slew of new chatbots have come out in the past year or so, and they’re really useful for people, like me, who are feeling overwhelmed by the world around them.

Some chatbots, such as infinite conversation application Cleverbot, are little more than novelties, but others are actually improving lives in tangible ways.

DoNotPay is a chatbot that started out as a way to automatically challenge parking tickets in tribunal, but now includes the ability to sue Equifax in the wake of its massive data violate. Other bots, such as 5 Calls and Resistbot, construct contacting your representatives in Congress a breeze.

One of the newest chatbots I’ve added to my life lately is called Hope.

When you open up the app’s chat dialogue in your phone’s browser, you’re presented with a handful of the day’s top stories. Tell it which one you’re curious about, and it will ask if you’re very interested in becoming ever more context, want links to more detailed sources, or it gives you the option of learning how you can help .

The interface is simple, feels natural, and constructs for a pretty smooth user experience for chatbot power-users as well as relative newbies. I was depict in by its ability to distill overwhelming events into single action items. For instance, if you select the “How can I help? ” option when reading about recovery in Puerto Rico, you’ll be inspired to donate to either the Hispanic Federation, a nonprofit currently being promoted by Lin-Manuel Miranda, or Bethenny Frankel’s B Strong initiative. Clicking “Donate” takes you directly to the individual charities’ websites.

“Sometimes we’ll see a really cool action[ people can take] tied to a news story and build it out from there, ” says Marisa Kabas, Hope’s editorial director, describing the process as a bit of a “chicken and egg” situation.

One thing Kabas and her squad ask themselves before highlighting a narrative on Hope is whether there’s actually something people can do with the news item. In other terms, it’s unlikely you’ll watch much about Trump’s tweets or the controversy in reaction to those tweets on Hope. Kabas says that those types of narratives are “just adding to the noise” and are often unproductive.

While the simplicity and narrow focus of Hope is one of its strengths, it’s also one of the bot’s biggest imperfections, as its “help” options are currently limited to a somewhat sparse selection of topics. Still, if you’re impression stressed, but interested in finding out how to get involved in a specific cause, Hope is a pretty solid first place to check.

Whether you’re looking for a new route to eat news, contact your representatives, or take action, there’s likely a chatbot out there for you.

Maybe, like me, you’re easily overwhelmed by what Kabas refers to as “the noise, ” the superfluous-yet-predictable outcome of a 24 -hour news and amusement media. Or maybe, like so many of us, you’re just really busy and don’t have time to tackle every thing happening in the world all at once.

The bots mentioned above are great since they are do a lot of the work for you, helping you be informed while giving you real, tangible things you can do to attain your life even merely a little bit easier.

Disclaimer: We were not paid to promote any of the products mentioned in this article. We just thought they were pretty cool .

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17 comics that show being pregnant isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Being pregnant doesn’t usually stop you from doing anything you did before — except for perhaps drinking alcohol.

Modern moms often stay at work, maintain exercising, and do just about everything they did before getting pregnant. It’s inspired many mothers, like Maya Vorderstrasse, to use social media to show the world what it’s really like to “have it all.”

There is no doubt that pregnancy can bring about a special kind of bliss. But for all the ups, there are undoubtedly a few downs too.

As an illustrator and a mom of two, I try to depict all the elements of motherhood in my cartoons — the joyful, the hard, and all the humorous moments that make pregnancy so uniquely special.

1. Simple tasks can become impossible.

All illustrations by Line Severinsen. Reprinted with permission.

2. This is what comfort feels like:

Grabbing every pillow in your house only to get comfortable.

3. The worst sleeping posture:

Like a cow pretending to be a dead bird.

4. Trying to stay positive:

You maintain mentally preparing yourself for the final battle by watching all those pregnancy demonstrates. And yet, you end up terrified.

5. Thought your cramps were run?


6. Expect the unexpected.

Water can violate at any time … any place.

7. Gotta bide sober.

Your self-control is at the highest level!

8. And the cravings…

Those sudden cravings for a specific flavor are endless.

9. Hormones bring amazes!

Your body’s changes may bring some unwanted hair.

10. “Sympathetic” pregnancy.

When your spouse starts turning into your physical equivalent. Way to go, belly!

11. Care to comment?

12. The waiting never ends…

You’re dreading how long it will take to get back to your regular figure.

13. Set up your dukes!

Is that the newborn or a bar fighting?

14. Don’t count your rancours:

Nine whole months and you still can’t find a name.

15. That’s what you’re worried about?

Your husband’s greatest dread is largely no big deal.

16. I can’t reach!

Can’t see your feet anymore? Welcome to the third trimester.

17. Wandering hands:

It’s like your belly is some kind of magical ball and everyone wants a rub.

This tale was originally positioned on MetDaan.com and is reprinted here with permission .

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Starting school too early could be dangerous for teens, even if they do everything right.

No coffee after 6 p. m. Phone is off at 8 p. m. Asleep by 11 p.m. And your teenager is still exhausted, anxious, and irritable the next day?

If they start school at the crack of dawn, that bad attitude might be more than simply adolescent moodiness.

A new survey be carried out in researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that middle and high school students who start school before 8: 30 a.m. might be at a higher hazard of depression and anxiety even among those who do everything else “right.”

“While there are other variables that need to be explored, our findings show that earlier school start times seem to set more pressure on the sleep process and increase mental health symptoms, while later school start times appear to be a strong protective factor for teens, ” result writer Jack Peltz, clinical deputy professor in psychiatry at the University of Rochester, said in a press release.

The researchers monitored the sleep hygiene habits, sleep quality and duration, and depression and nervousnes symptoms of two groups of students — one made up of those who started school before 8: 30 a.m. and one comprised of those who started afterwards — over a seven-day period.

While students who instituted good routines — turning off electronics, early bedtimes, etc. — presented improved outcomes across the board, those who started school earlier still reported more mental health challenges.

A 2015 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that fewer than 1 in 5 U.S. middle and high school students start school at 8: 30 a.m. or afterward.

Historically, districts have implemented early morning start times in order to align student schedules with parent work schedules and allot time for after-school activities.

While other recent studies have found that an 8: 30 a.m.-or-later buzzer can benefit students, the Rochester study is among the first to isolate a direct negative link between early start times and adolescent mental health.

Meanwhile, the movement to let kids sleep is small, but growing.

In 2016, the American Medical Association came out in favor of later school start times, citing data that middle and high school students require 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep to “achieve optimal health and learning.”

Photo by Robyn Beck/ Getty Images.

In February, a bill was introduced in the California State Senate that would institute an 8: 30 a.m. school start time statewide. The bill was shelved after falling short of the votes needed for passage, with foes arguing that a “one-size-fits-all” approach would constrain the flexible of local districts.

Supporters plan to revisit the legislation next year.

Despite the findings, Peltz insists that good sleep hygiene is still important for young people.

“At the end of the working day, sleep is fundamental to our survival, ” he said. “But if you have to cram for a test or have an important paper due, it’s one of the first things to go by the wayside, although that shouldn’t be.”

The next step is get school administrators to weigh the evidence.

Convincing school districts across America to start subsequently can’t be harder than persuading a adolescent to shut off their phone, right?

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus shares her breast cancer diagnosis with a heartfelt call to action.

On Thursday, actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced via Twitter that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Just 11 days after accepting her sixth straight Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, the “Veep” star shared her diagnosis with the world.

“1 in 8 girls get breast cancer. Today, I’m the one, ” she wrote.

“The good news is that I have the most glorious group of supportive and caring family and friends, and fantastic insurance through my union, ” she added. “The bad news is that not all women are so lucky, so let’s fighting all cancers and make universal health care a reality.”

Each year, an estimated 231,840 U.S. girls is likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die. Early detection plays a huge role in reducing that number.

Breast cancer accounts for the second-most cancer-related deaths in U.S. girls behind only lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Regular screenings — self-checks and with a doctor — can aid in catching the cancer at its most treatable phase, early on.

In her call to action, Louis-Dreyfus sounds optimistic, urging her adherents to maintain opposing so that others have access to the same care she’ll be able to receive. While recent make further efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have fallen flat, “weve been” far away from having “universal health care.” 11 % of women ages 19 to 64 in the U.S. don’t have any form of health insurance. While that number has fallen since the ACA’s implementation, it still means that millions of women are unable to access preventive care.

Thanks to a number of health centers around the country, such as Planned Parenthood, low-income and uninsured girls aren’t left totally out in the cold. Regrettably, these groups are often under assault from political opponents.

Louis-Dreyfus’s decision to share her diagnosis with her fans serves as a reminder that any of us can be hit by illness at any time — constructing the fight for universal care that much more important.

It’s never a bad time to call your members of Congress and let them know that you want to live in a world where everybody has access to the same care she has.

We wish Louis-Dreyfus the absolute best of luck going forward.

Louis-Dreyfus accepts the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series on Sept. 17, 2017. Photo by Kevin Winter/ Getty Images.

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Share this with anyone who doubts vaccines. The U.K. just eliminated measles.

37 years ago, vaccines drove smallpox into extinction. Polio is about to be on death’s doorstep. Now the U.K. can say it has added one more name to its personal kill list — measles.

According to a new report from the World Health Organization, Denmark, Spain, and the United Kingdom in 2016 successfully removed the measles virus.

The secret behind this achievement is something simple: vaccines and herd immunity.

It’s important to note that, as the WHO defines it, “elimination” doesn’t mean “completely wiped out.” There were still about 1, 600 examples in the United Kingdom last year.

Instead, the WHO reports, the United Kingdom has “interrupted endemic transmission.” That is to say, enough people are vaccinated that even if someone does catch the virus, it’s effectively impossible for the disease to spread . This phenomenon is usually referred to as herd immunity, and it didn’t happen overnight.

This is the culmination of a long, steady vaccination campaign.

Vaccination campaigns can sometimes face challenges — inadequate render, unequal access to health services, and hesitancy or misinformation.

Still, the four countries of the United Kingdom( England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) have managed to reach a 95% measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination rate in children younger than 5 years old.

While measles might sound comparatively innocuous, it’s a serious, potentially deadly cancer, especially for children. Measles can cause permanent hearing loss, encephalitis, and death. It can also cause babies to be born prematurely if a pregnant woman contracts the disease. Removing it is a big achievement.

The United Kingdom is not the first country to achieve this goal. According to the WHO, 42 out of 53 European countries have achieved elimination.

This news shows that with dedicated, sustained attempts, we can chase some of our greatest specters back into the shadows.

There’s still plenty to be done. The U.K. will need to keep up its high vaccination rates and keep the herd immunity strong, or else the disease may gain a foothold once again. But with the vast majority of European countries having now eradicated this illnes, measles might soon be marching down the same route as smallpox.

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This family beat medical odds to climb the highest mountain in Africa. They set a record.

Sarah Getter rouses her kids out of bed and gets them “re ready for” school every single morning. But on the working day, she woke them up at 11 o’clock at night.

There was no school that day, and they were in a tent in Africa, getting ready to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro .

The final night of their hike “mustve been” done at night because humen should only be at the summit for 20 minutes or risk altitude sickness. Plus, the best time to see the opinion from the top is at sunup.

So, on one cold, dark night in 2015, the Getter family — Sarah, her husband, Bobby, and their kids, Roxy and Ben — all rolled out of their tents and prepped themselves for the final hike to the top.

All images via Sarah Getter, used in conjunction with permission.

“It’s kind of terrible, that whole last night, ” Sarah laughs. “It’s so cold and dark, and you just feel like you’re never gonna make it.”

But a few hours later, the Getters did indeed reach the top — inducing Roxy, who was 9 at the time, the youngest daughter ever to completed the climb.

Also impressive? Roxy and Ben were both born with heart issues that could make it really easy to turn down this sort of challenge. But they didn’t let that hold them back all .

“It was unbelievable. We were so proud of them, ” Sarah says, of Roxy and Ben, who was 10. “For my husband and I … it was very emotional.”

For most families, even a trip to Disney World with the kids can feel like a barely accomplishable feat of superhuman strength. But for the Getters, bringing the kids to the fourth highest mountaintop on Earth was amazingly manageable.

“They actually did it for themselves, ” she says. “We didn’t push them. They didn’t squeak or complain. They wanted to do it. And that was really neat, to see your children achieve something like that.”

“We didn’t go into it saying’ We’re all gonna make it to the top’, ” Sarah says. “We went into it saying,’ We’re gonna be safe and do the best we can, and if we make it to the top, that’s amazing.’” And that’s exactly what they did.

Of course, safety was an especially important concern for the Getters because their kids’ heart conditions already involve frequent check-ups.

Roxy was born with an atrial septal defect, a small pit in her heart that had to be closed by a surgeon when she was a baby. Ben has a less serious, much more common condition called a patent foramen ovale — also a heart hole, but a smaller one that merely necessitates monitoring.

Along with the regular packing and planning, Sarah had to make sure she got her kids the preventive check-ups they were required attain the hike safe for them .

“I would never have taken the trip-up without get confirmation from the doctor, ” she says. “We like to be adventurous, but in a safe way.”

All adults should see a doctor at least once a year to ensure a healthy heart and overall wellness. But Ben and Roxy have been seeing a cardiologist since they were newborns because it’s super important that the family keeps an eye on the kids’ heart health so they can catch any issues early .

“But we knew this was something completely different than we’d ever done, ” Sarah says. “I just really wanted to make sure that we were building the right decision, and we wouldn’t be putting them in harm’s way.”

“We built sure we took every precaution that we could, ” says Sarah. Her spouse is a physician, and they traveled with another doctor. They also picked a trekking company they trusted, packed every possible medication, and came prepared to get the children off the mountain if they had needed to.

In the end, it all turned out penalty — neither of the kids get “even one ounce” of altitude sickness.

The only Getter who did get sick was Sarah. “Day 3, I was just extremely nauseous and not feeling very good at all, ” she giggles. The children, on the other hand, were right as rain.

Still, the family’s cautiousness was what maintained the kids safe — and devoted Sarah peace of mind .

So what’s next for a family who’s already summited Kilimanjaro?

“You know what, we don’t have anything so adventurous planned yet, ” says Sarah. But Roxy and Ben continue to be adventurers, taking on gymnastics, soccer, horseback riding, hiking, surfing, and more.

“The kids — they’re not afraid of things, ” Sarah says. And thanks to their parents’ steady commitment to getting their health checked, they have no reason to be.

Roxy and Ben are free to be adventurers, and their parents are free to come along for the ride. “We try a lot of different things. And it’s always a lot of fun.”

Though the Getters have a special reason to be strict about get their heart health checked, everyone should do the same when it comes to knowing their four health numbers — blood sugar, cholesterol, Body Mass Index( BMI) and blood pressure — and schedule regular preventive check-ups with your doctor, even if you don’t think you have pre-existing health issues .

As Sarah can attest, it’s always better to be prepared before an emergency develops( whether or not it happens on the top of a mountain ).

Learn more about how to take control of your health at Cigna.com/ TakeControl .

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A ‘smart’ tattoo is just one new innovation that could help keep you healthy.

Imagine if a cool tattoo or a pair of contact lenses could help save you from this all-too familiar scene:

You schedule a doctor’s appointment for the morning, knowing full-well that means you’ll have to take anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours off run depending on where your doctor’s office is. Then you get in, and there’s inevitably a wait to be seen. And, after you’re ensure, you’ll likely have to wait around to have blood taken or, worse, attain another appointment to come back.

People in a waiting room. Photo via iStock.

Now imagine you have a condition that requires you to have your health numbers — blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass indicator( BMI ), and cholesterol — monitored by a doctor at the least once a month. The situation merely went from frustrating to ridiculous.

Thankfully, we live in an age of astounding innovation that’s attaining health monitoring a million times easier — meaning that maybe in the near future, you won’t have to go through this routine quite as often.

There are a bunch of exciting new contraptions being developed right now that will allow us to take more control of our preventive health care. While they’re not on the market yet, many of them should be in the not-too-distant future.

Here are five examples of cutting-edge technologies that aren’t simply cool, they could be hour and potentially lifesaving.

1. This biosensor tattoo could tell you what’s going on in your body .

You know how mood rings change colors with your “mood” — i.e ., they change colouring with the temperature of your body? Well, MIT is developing something various kinds of similar, but instead of a ring, it’s a tattoo, and instead of your temperature , it can sense things like blood glucose and hydration levels.

The tattoo ink is called Dermal Abyss, and it reacts with the body’s interstitial liquid( which is what surrounds your cells ), changing colorings in response to internal changes. There are three different color inks that monitor your body’s glucose, pH, and sodium levels.

For example, if you’re diabetic, instead of having to prick your thumb an inordinate quantity of times a day, you could just look down at your tattoo. Pretty cool, huh?

2. Wearing this sweat-monitoring wristband could tell you if you’re drinking enough water and much more.

Photo by Wei Gao/ UC Berkeley . Used with permission.

Sweat can expose a lot more than only a hot day or a healthy workout. According to technologists at the University of Berkeley, it can assess various medical conditions as well. That’s why they’re developing a wristband designed to monitor the makeup of sweat.

It has sensors that discern the sodium, potassium, glucose, and lactate levels in a person’s sweat . They connect to a circuit board on the band that calculates the data and sends it to a laptop or smartphone.

But it doesn’t simply keep track of important health numbers. It can also detect drug use, which would make athlete doping a lot harder to pull off.

3. These smart contact lenses might one day diagnose you employing your tears.

Woman putting in a contact. Photo via iStock.

Soon, your contact lenses could do so much more than merely help you assure better. For the past several years , researchers at Oregon State University have been working on smart lenses to monitor blood glucose levels in the body .

In order to create the prototype, engineers actually used indium gallium zinc oxide( IGZO) — a material used to improve the quality of smartphone screens. They found that the sensors in the contacts were so fine-tuned they could even detect trace sums of glucose in tears.

But that’s not all these contacts could do.

Gregory Herman, co-author of such studies says the sensors could be developed to monitor conditions like cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, and kidney or liver disease.

4. Meet Helius — a smart pill that can tell how well your other pills are working.

Photo via iStock.

We take pills to treat symptoms, but what if there were a pill that could monitor the effectiveness of pill-taking? That’s exactly what Proteus Digital Health has been developing over the last several years. It’s a smart-alecky pill that records how a patient is taking and responding to their pills . That way, if a treatment course isn’t running, doctors will have a better idea as to why that might be.

Sorry, pill avoiders. This invention will unmask you( and maintain you healthier ).

The best part is your doctor can check in on your advance whenever they want, and if something doesn’t look right, they can alerting you right away.

5. If you wear this bra for an hour, it will tell you if your breasts are healthy.

Regular, at-home breast exams should be a part of every person’s life, but sometimes early signs of cancer aren’t easily felt or find. That’s why Julian Rios Cantu, an 18 -year-old from Mexico, started developing a smart bra that they are able detect the more subtle signs of early stage breast cancer.

It’s called the Eva Bra, and while it’s merely a prototype right now, it is unable to revolutionize cancer prevention when it hits the market in January 2018. The bra comes equipped with bio sensors that detect subtle changes in skin temperature and tissue elasticity . All a person has to do is wear it once a week for 60 to 90 minutes, then the patch sensors send the data they collect to their phone or tablet.

This would be especially helpful for people who might’ve had breast cancer before and thus need to be more closely monitored for recurrences.

Of course, while all this exciting new technology could help you stay healthier, it’s not a substitute for preventive screenings with your doctor.

Regardless of how advanced remote health monitoring gets, having your doctor assess your health numbers is a vital part of maintaining yourself in tip top shape.

What it can do, however, is alert you to a change you might not otherwise have noticed so you can get yourself checked out before any serious damage is done.

Keeping tabs on your body is the best way to protect it. Innovations like these will make doing that so much easier.

Learn more about how to take control of your health at Cigna.com/ TakeControl .

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

This woman destroys a wedding cake and makes a point about sexual assault.

A new PSA by the It’s On Us campaign demonstrates just how absurd it is to blame survivors of sexual assault for their violators’ actions.

In the video, an admiring hotel guest wanders by a wedding cake — “It looks so delicious, ” she find — before taking a huge handful of cake without asking the baker for permission. When the baker reacts, aghast, she blames him for making such a great looking cake.

“You were the one that made it so tempting, ” she tells him. “Tahitian vanilla icing and pretty little flowers? It’s like you were begging me to savour it.”

If that language sounds familiar, that’s because it’s something we hear all too often when talking about survivors of sexual assault. How was she dressed? Did she ingest alcohol? Why wasn’t she aware of her surroundings ? Questions like these excuse violators and set blame on victims, adding to the stigma that they are able discourage survivors from speaking up.

It’s On Us launched the PSA on the 23 rd anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. Written by then-senator Joe Biden, VAWA established a national hotline for victims to call, as well as greatly expanded the number of services and shelters available to survivors nationwide.

While the PSA is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, its message is a serious one. Victim-blaming prevents many victims of sexual assault from speaking out.

We have to do better.

Just this month, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced her department was rescinding Obama-era guidelines on sexual assault, dedicating more leniency to accused violators. Proponents against sexual assault argue the move shows the administration isn’t prioritizing campus rape and sexual assault.

“Today’s announcement is a threat to the progress we’ve made and to the rights of every student on campuses across the country, ” It’s On Us said in a statement. “It’s On Us campaign remains committed to fight for the full enforcement of Title IX and for the rights and protections of every student and every survivor.”

To get involved, visit the It’s On Us website. If you need assistance, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800 -6 56 -4 673.

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This high school senior is looking ahead, and her sickle cell disease won’t hold her back.

At first blush, LaTia Bell is just like any other high school senior.

She likes school, especially science, and keeps her grades up with college applications just around the corner. She merely started playing tennis, and in her free time, she likes to read books and learn about sharks — her favorite animal. Like most other students in the U.S ., the pressure is on to keep up, stand out, and excel as competition to gain college admission continues to grow more fierce.

What you can’t see is that LaTia, despite all of her work ethic and exuberance, is chronically fatigued all the time.

When it’s cold — and even sometimes when it’s not — her entire body is wracked with ache. She misses weeks of school at a time in the hospital. Even though she strives to be like any other daughter, LaTia’s sickle cell disease avoids that from being possible .

All photos politenes of LaTia Bell, used in conjunction with permission.

Sickle cell illnes is a blood disorder that can, to set it bluntly, attain life hellish.

“It seems I always get sick around the most important dates, ” LaTia says, talking about her sickle cell disease like it’s a mischievous imp rather than a painful and difficult cancer. “Usually when I’m sick, I miss at the least three days of school. So it is really hard.”

Sickle cell cancer is a genetic disorder that avoids a person’s red blood cell from becoming flexible, round, and healthy. Instead, they become rigid and crescent-shaped, unable to carry the amount of oxygen the body needs and succumbing off much faster than healthy blood cell do.

The result is that chronic fatigue LaTia is constantly faced with, along with other symptoms like intense, frequent pain resulting from a lack of oxygen being delivered to key body parts, causing muscles to seize up. People young and old living with sickle cell illnes are also susceptible to strokes and infections and have to take medications that can take even more of a toll on the body.

The symptoms of sickle cell disease make even mundane chores feel like impossible accomplishments. Last year, LaTia missed weeks of school and more than a few tennis rivalries because of her sickle cell crises.

But as a patient at the Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Centerof Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where many young people are taught to manage their sickle cell cancer, LaTia has been taught to manage her symptoms. It also helps that she has a lot of optimism and drive to do what she loves .

“I don’t genuinely let it hold me back from my dreams and what I love to do, ” says LaTia .

In spite of the challenges her cancer causes, she has her heart set on analyzing biochemistry in college — knowing full well that stress is one of the primary factors that can trigger her illness and send her to the hospital.

Regardless, she’s choosing to aim high . “I want to be a hematologist and a marine biologist, ” she says. “I expect it to be very stressful, but I’m merely ready to take it on.”

LaTia also said that he hoped she can use her passion for learning and knowledge to someday help other people like her.

There’s no cure for sickle cell illnes — only developments in pain treatment that can make the disease easier to manage. But she wants to help find a remedy.

“Sickle cell doesn’t only affect the patients. It affects the families too, ” she says. “No one in the family likes to see small children suffered by such a terrible disease.”

“I’m doing it for the patients and for the families.”

Though her cancer is beyond her control, in so far, LaTia has been able to do everything she wants — it’s just more of a challenge.

Supported by the Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Center, with compassionate care and patient education and counseling, she has been able to chase her dreams with confidence.

Heading into her future, she’s confident in her ability to keep on accomplishing. “I feel invincible, ” she says.

Ultimately, she hopes that seeing a cure is within her reaching. “I do a lot of spreading awareness through social media and things, ” she says. “I want people to be aware of sickle cell and maybe help make a change.”

One thing she’s certain of is that she’ll be one of the people helping induce that change, regardless of the obstacles in her route. “Sickle cell has built “i m feeling” down a lot, but you can overcome anything, ” she says. “That’s what I’ve learned — that anything can be overcome.”

To learn more about sickle cell disease or the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, visit choa.org/ fightsicklecell .

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Kids with cancer aren’t their illnesses. This camp allows them to be so much more.

It was “Camplympics” and Chris was a finalist in the pool-noodle javelin toss.

A camper participates in the javelin event during Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times’ “Camplympics.” Photo via Dean Reyes/ Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times/ Facebook.

Chris is blind, the outcomes of eye cancer, but that wasn’t stopping him from participating in this fun event at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times .

His camp counselor, Bear, was standing behind the rings, snapping his fingers so that Chris could hear the distance and region where he was to toss the javelin.

“The whole dining hall was quiet, ” says Fatima Djelmane, developing director of the camp. “It was close to 200 people there, between the campers and the counselors, and “its just” altogether silent.”

Everyone was waiting with bated breath. Chris threw the javelin three times through the hoops.

The crowd roared. Chris had just won the bronze medal .

“It was a huge moment, where everyone was screaming and so excited and crying because they had witnessed something amazing, ” Djelmane says. “It simply shows the partnership between[ him] and his counselor and the subsistence that he received from the whole community.”

That’s what attains this camp so great. We might take “just being a kid” for awarded, but they don’t.

The Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times in Mountain Center, California. Photo via Dean Reyes/ Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times/ Facebook.

Located in Mountain Center, California, the camp opens its doors, free of cost, to any child who has or has had cancer in their lifetime . Campers can bring a sibling along too, and the camp also offers a Family Camp program for first-time campers so they can bring their whole households.

Because households and siblings come to the camp together, counselors often don’t know which children have cancer and which don’t.

Their illnesses are not the focus and that, says Jessica Henke, a volunteer camp counselor, is a great thing for both children with cancer and their entire families.

Kids are encouraged to explore who they are and what they love beyond medical limitations and the dreaded “c-word.”

Activities at the camp include everything any other summer camp might have: archery, horseback riding, rock climbing, swimming, arts and crafts, and more.

Nights are filled with campfires, dances, and special cabin activities planned by the counselors.

One of the more popular activities at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times is the 50 -foot rock wall. Photo via Ashok Padinjatiyaduth/ Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times/ Facebook.

And, while the counselors may be made aware of some campers’ restrictions, campers are still encouraged to try every activity offered at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times.

“No matter anyone’s physical restrictions, the staff and the volunteers are trained so that they can help everyone participate in everything, ” Henke explains. “These kids are given a lot of opportunities at camp that they may not be given down the mountain.”

Getting lost in play and forgetting that they are sick, even if it’s just for a little while, means everything .

“There’s no’ oh, you’re the child with cancer.’ It’s not part of their identity anymore, and then they’re able to discover who they are outside of that label of cancer, ” Djelmane says.

Campers enjoying some face-painting. Photo via Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times/ Facebook.

Life can also be tough for siblings, who sometimes don’t get as much attention. Fortunately, they are also encouraged to join in on the fun.

“Cancer lives in the body of one child, but it affects the entire family, ” Djelmane says.

Illness changes household dynamics, creates new responsibilities, and forces kids to grow up route too quickly. Cancer treatment is also a long process. It often takes years — years where the parents are not able to be fully present for the sibling who isn’t diagnosed with cancer .

As a outcome, siblings of children with cancer often experience fear, anxiety, fury, resentment, guilt, and heartbreak. And both the patient and the sibling may miss out on normal childhood experiences, like sports and socializing with other children.

Henke and some of the campers. Image via Josh Pham.

Getting siblings and family members out of the house and letting them know that it’s OK to step out of the role of caretaker can go a long way.

“This is camp. You can be yourself. We will accept you for any way you are. If you want to be loud, be loud! Be crazy! ” Henke told one of her campers.

Counselors are trained to treat all children the same — and this can make a big difference .

Jessica Henke shows off her silly side with a camper and a fellow counselor. Photo via Josh Pham.

“It genuinely boosts their self-esteem, their sense of self-identity, and their sense of freedom , especially for the patient, who is often coddled because the mothers are trying to do everything for them, ” Djelmane said.

“When they’re at camp, they’re truly pushed to develop leadership skills and to take on a lot of responsibility not only for themselves, but for the entire group.”

“A lot of people that I satisfy, when I tell them about my job, they say, ‘Oh, it must be so sad, ‘” says Djelmane .

“But actually, it’s one of the most inspiring and beautiful places I’ve ever been to. There’s a culture of passion and love that’s actually palpable at camp.”

“We have volunteers who have been coming for 35 years, ” she continues. “It’s actually an amazing community. The counselors are so connected to each other and to the campers.”

Volunteer Scott Cohen and a camper. Image courtesy of Scott Cohen.

One of those repeat volunteers is Scott Cohen, federal employees of Northwestern Mutual and active supporter of the company’s Childhood Cancer Program that has contributed over $15 million to the cause. He’s employed his vacation time to volunteer at the camp for the last 11 years.

“I come back more refreshed from camp than if I were to go on a real vacation, ” he says. “There’s something about being with these kids. I just feel so good about the time we expend together.”

And volunteers often recruit others to the camp because they find the experience so rewarding. Henke, for example, first learned about the camp when her boyfriend told her what an amazing period he had as a camp counselor, so she decided to become a counselor herself.

Jessica Henke dances with one of her campers at a camp dance. Photo via Josh Pham.

“I learned to be intentional and to be present in the moment, ” Henke says of her experience. “You is able to super close with people in the instances of a few days or hours. I made some really good friends there.”

It just goes to show that dedicating back to the community can do just as much good for the giver as it does for the receiver.

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