A cancer diagnosis meant a lot more time together for one mom and daughter.
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Ad Council + AARP

When her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, this medical student knew what she had to do.

She dropped out of school for a year to be with her mom and help her navigate the procedures, helpers, hospice workers, medications, and so many other things that suddenly occupied her mother's life, 24/7.


All images from AARP/YouTube.

"I decided to take a year off from medical school and spend the time with her, and I just feel like I want to grasp at every moment I can, really. A typical day of caring for my mom usually includes preparing meals, running errands, grocery shopping, and picking up prescriptions. I work a lot behind the scenes organizing the nursing, a nursing assistant to come and help us." — Hannah Roberts

It's not something that everybody can do.

It's grueling, wonderful, painful, life-affirming, terrifying, rewarding, and many more things, all wrapped up into one big ball of ... life.

I really hope when my mother reaches the end of her life, I have a chance (and the ability) to be there for her in the same manner.

Watching a relative go through something like this is probably not in anybody's top 10 list of things they really want to do with their lives, but helping them cope is certainly in the realm of being a loving human being.

Getting them through it with grace and dignity — I cannot think of a greater gift to give.

Some facts, all from National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP:

  1. Nearly 1/4 of all of America's caregivers are Millennials, between the ages of 18—34, and they're equally likely to be male or female.

  2. The value — that is, if it were paid — of caregiving by family members was approximately $470 billion per year in 2013.

  3. 40 million family caregivers helped another adult or loved one carry out daily activities
  4. More than half (55%) of family caregivers report being overwhelmed by the amount of care their family member needs.

Caregivers are the unsung heroes of modern life, and sometimes we forget that they're also grieving and suffering as they help their loved ones.

They need our support in any way we can offer it.

Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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