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A genius way to repurpose old, unwanted furs for a great cause.

'There are all these people who have inherited fur but don’t want fur and don’t know what to do with the fur.'

A genius way to repurpose old, unwanted furs for a great cause.

Fur in fashion gets a bad rap for a good reason.

While fur is a rightfully taboo fashion choice for many people, recent reports show it's unfortunately making a comeback on runways again.

So what can we do to curtail this cruel trend, aside from not buying furs and encouraging others to do the same?


What about all those old, unwanted furs people have inherited from previous generations? What should become of those?

What if we could use old furs to save baby animals?

Born Free USA, an animal advocacy nonprofit, is doing just that.

Wild bunnies. Photo by Kim Rutledge, Wildlife Rescue Center, Missouri, via Born Free USA.

Born Free has partnered up with over 16 wildlife rehabilitation centers nationwide to send them furs that have been donated by people from all over the world.

The furs are used to help rehabilitate baby animals who've been orphaned or injured.

Opossum sibling. Photo by Fund for the Animals via Born Free USA.

"There’s nothing that any of us can do to undo the cruelty that created those furs in the past," said Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA. "But what we can do is try and have animals benefit from what is already out there. Give the furs a useful home."

River otter kits. Photo by Blue Ridge Wildlife Center via Born Free USA.

Roberts got the idea during an ivory crush he attended in Colorado. Ivory crushes are held to destroy a large amount of ivory in order to effectively remove it from market circulation and broadcast the message that ivory shouldn't be worn or used by anyone other than elephants.

"I started to think about other scenarios in which there are wildlife products we want to remove from the marketplace as a signal that there should be no commercial trade in those animals or their parts," Roberts said.

He did some research and found wildlife rehabilitation centers often collect blankets for wayward animals. He thought old furs might be similarly useful, and just like that, the Fur for the Animals was born.

Fur donations at Blue Ridge Wildlife Center. Photo by Chris Yurek via Born Free USA.

Born Free began calling for fur donations in 2014. Today, they've collected over 800 furs — worth an estimated $1.5 million.

They collect over a four-month period from September through December, which also happens to be the time when baby animals need the most help warming up.

While the animals themselves can't say what a difference the fur means to them, the photos below speak pretty loudly.

Just look at how much Reggie the Bobcat loves his fur blanket:

GIF via Born Free USA/YouTube.

And this baby skunk so cozy in his fox fur:

Photo by Fund for Animals via Born Free USA.

Or this bear cub doing yoga on his new fur mat:

Photo by Fund for Animals via Born Free USA.

And this injured baby squirrel nestling in fur while having a snack:

Photo by Nicholas Alexiy Moran, Urban Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitation in New York via Born Free USA.

Whether it's because it reminds them of their mothers or simply that it acts as a warm, safe haven, the wildlife centers report that the furs really do seem to aid these animals in their recovery.

One fur coat can go a long way, too. Case in point, these 28 coyote cubs who found comfort in one fox coat.

Not all 28 coyote cubs pictured because they can't all fit on the fur at the same time, but you get the idea. Photo by Fund for Animals via Born Free USA.

What's most encouraging to Roberts and the rest of Born Free USA are the letters they've received from donors who finally feel like their fur coats will serve some purpose.

As Roberts said, "There are all these people who have inherited fur but don’t want fur and don’t know what to do with the fur."

Think about it. You have this fur from a past relative that has never felt right to keep, but it never felt right to throw it away either, so it's been sitting in your closet for years, just taking up space. Born Free USA is your chance to get rid of the fur in a way that both honors its former owner, the animal that gave its life, and brings the fur back to the wild.

Like this person who donated their mother's fur coat:

Image via Born Free USA.

And this person who donated their grandmother's fur coat:

Image via Born Free USA.

Roberts himself donated his grandmother's old furs.

She was of the generation that had come through the Depression, he explained, and bought things like steaks and fur coats as a way of proving they had made it out.

"She was a big advocate for me. But she was also someone of a different generation," said Roberts. "I think she would've been very proud to know some good use came out of the furs she had, because even though she had them, she also appreciated the cause of animal protection and conservation."

Bobcat kitten on a bed of fur. Photo by Fund for Animals via Born Free USA.

Roberts hopes Fur for the Animals will not only give old furs a second life comforting injured animals, but that it will raise awareness of the abhorrent nature of the fur industry and help put a stop to it once and for all.

He is well aware of the cruelty of which the fur trade is capable. Showing what a positive effect old furs can have on animals may be the most effective way to get the world's attention. Once people have been engaged by the sweet photos, he hopes the "stop the fur industry" message will fall on more attentive ears.

Thousands of animals died to make these furs, and that's a sad reality we can't go back and rectify. We can't undo what's been done, but we can change what we do with the millions of unwanted furs that still exist — and we can make sure we're moving forward positively. Even if this doesn't bring the fur industry to a screeching halt, bringing these furs back to wildlife is perhaps the only fitting way to end their story — with a new beginning.

Some people are neat freaks and some people aren't. Most of us prefer a clean and tidy space, but not all of us are able to maintain one. Not only do people go through various stages of life that make keeping house trickier than other times, but some people have neurological, psychological, and emotional realities that make it harder than it is for others.

The problem is, a messy house is often a source of judgment and shame.

Licensed therapist and TikToker Kc Davis is turning that notion on its head with videos that explain how her own ADHD impacts her messiness and how she's learned "to clean as a messy person."

Davis shared a video showing her doing "a full reset" of her space while explaining the various reasons why some people don't have the executive function capabilities to "clean as they go." From ADHD to physical disabilities to having experienced abuse surrounding cleaning, some people find it impossible to keep things neat and tidy. For people who don't struggle with executive dysfunction, this video may not make sense, but for those who do, it's extremely validating.

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Some people are neat freaks and some people aren't. Most of us prefer a clean and tidy space, but not all of us are able to maintain one. Not only do people go through various stages of life that make keeping house trickier than other times, but some people have neurological, psychological, and emotional realities that make it harder than it is for others.

The problem is, a messy house is often a source of judgment and shame.

Licensed therapist and TikToker Kc Davis is turning that notion on its head with videos that explain how her own ADHD impacts her messiness and how she's learned "to clean as a messy person."

Davis shared a video showing her doing "a full reset" of her space while explaining the various reasons why some people don't have the executive function capabilities to "clean as they go." From ADHD to physical disabilities to having experienced abuse surrounding cleaning, some people find it impossible to keep things neat and tidy. For people who don't struggle with executive dysfunction, this video may not make sense, but for those who do, it's extremely validating.

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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."