21 trees going out on a limb to ask for your help.

Hello, human!

1. A tree grows amid a field of flowers. Photo by Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images.

Yes, you down there. We're talking to you.

2. Stars twinkle in the night sky over the treetops of a forest in Frankfurt. Photo by Patrick Pleul/AFP/Getty Images.


It's us — the trees.

3. Beautiful fall leaves. Photo by Ozma/Flickr.

We need a word with you. And it's important.

4. The sun rises in Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images.

Take a seat.

5. A tree made for climbing. Photo by Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images.

We feed you.

6. Trees: They give us fruit. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

We cool down cities and sidewalks.

We release water vapor into the air and provide much needed shade to homes and streets to help keep cities cool.

7. A row of ash trees in a Chicago park, which have been treated with insecticide to keep them safe from pests like the emerald ash borer. Photo by Nova Safo/AFP/Getty Images.

We provide a beautiful, affordable way to clean up air pollution.

Not to brag, but in Chicago alone, we remove 18,000 tons of air pollution each year. And in Kansas City? 26,000 tons! Amazing, right?  You're welcome.

8. The midtown New York skyline behind blooming trees in Central Park. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

We provide you with oxygen, free of charge.

9. A tree by the sea. Photo by Stephen Wernicke/Flickr.

And we even raise your property values and can help lower crime rates.

Again, you're welcome.

10. A Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) sits on a kanzakura tree in Taipei. Photo by Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images.

We don't do it for credit. But after helping out like this for millennia, we could use a favor.

11. Snow covered trees are seen as Amtrak's California Zephyr rolls past. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

We're being destroyed.

12. A deforested area in the Río Plátano biosphere reserve in the La Mosquitia region, Honduras. Photo by Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images.

We're not given an opportunity to thrive.

Even in areas where timber operations are illegal, like the Amazon jungle, the practice continues.

13. A deforested area in the middle of the Amazon jungle in Para, Brazil. Photo by Raphael Alves/AFP/Getty Images.

It's getting dire for some of us. And for the animals that call us home.

14. Trees provide homes and food for all kinds of wildlife. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images.

Sumatran orangutans are just one species affected by Indonesia's booming palm oil industry. Millions of acres of prime peatland forest have been cleared to make way for plantations — a practice that releases tons of carbon, displacing trees and the destroying animal habitats.

So we need you to give a damn.

We saw some of you at the March for Science. Thanks for that. But you're not done.

People in Times Square at the March for Science in New York. Photo by Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images.

We need you to stand up for trees. In your communities, in your preserved natural spaces, and around the globe.

15. Coastal redwood trees at Muir Woods National Monument. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

We need you to support conservation efforts, buy and support companies and products that don't contribute to deforestation, and encourage sustainable tree planting and harvesting.

The demand for avocado is so high that it's fueling deforestation in Mexico. Farmers are thinning out existing pine forests to plant avocados. Not cool, folks.

16. Trees are better in bunches. Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images.

We need you to fight for us — because we've bent over backwards to do the same for you.

Cough, cough, "The Giving Tree,"  cough, cough.

17. A leaning tree near the Dinder national reserve, a protected region in Sudan. Photo by Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images.

Even when you make fun of us for accidentally having belly buttons.

18. Trees, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. Photo by William Warby/Flickr.

So, please, lend us a hand.

19. A boy climbs a tree near the lake Ammersee in the small Bavarian village of Herrsching, in southern Germany. Photo by Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images.

We'll keep doing our part to blow you away with our friggin' majesty.

20. Trees are gorgeous. Photo by Bram van de Sande/Flickr.

Stop by and visit us anytime, OK?

We really like watching all of you grow up.

21. A woman photographs blossoming cherry trees in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Warm regards,
The trees

Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

Keep Reading Show less

Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."