And The Greatest Challenge Humankind Will Ever Face Is …
If you enjoy living on Earth, you need to see this.
Gina, Nathalie and Helga share their reactions to being diagnosed with MS and how they stay informed and positive in the face of ever-changing symptoms.
It’s been 155 years since neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot gave the first lecture on a mysterious progressive illness he called “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, we’ve learned a lot. We know MS causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, including damaging the brain and spinal cord. Resulting symptoms can be debilitating and include fatigue, blurred vision, memory problems and weakness. Huge advancements in our understanding of MS and its underlying causes, as well as treatment advances, have been made in the past few decades, but MS remains a complex and unpredictable reality for the 2.8 million+ people diagnosed around the world.
Ironically, the only real constant for people living with MS is change. There’s no set pattern or standard progression of the disease, so each person’s experience is unique. Some people with MS have mild symptoms that worsen slowly but sometimes improve, while others can have severe symptoms that drastically alter their daily lives.
All people with MS share some things in common, however, such as the need to stay informed on the ever-evolving research, find various lines of support and try to remain hopeful as they continue living with the disease.
To better understand what navigating life with MS really looks like, three women shared their MS stories with us. Their journeys demonstrate how MS can look different for different people and interestingly, how the language used to talk about the disease can greatly impact how people understand their realities.
Gina loves riding her horse, Benita.Courtesy of Sanofi
When her youngest son was 4 months old, Gina started having problems with her eye. She’d soon learn she was experiencing optic neuritis—her first symptom of MS.
“Immediately after the diagnosis, I looked up facts on MS because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gina says. “And as soon as I knew what could really happen with this disease, I actually got scared.”
As her family’s primary income provider, she worried about how MS would impact her ability to work as a writer and editor. Her family was afraid she was going to end up in a wheelchair. However, for now, Gina’s MS is managed well enough that she still works full-time and is able to be active.
“When I tell somebody that I have MS, they often don't believe me the first time because I don't fulfill any stereotypes,” she says.
Overwhelmed by negative perspectives on living with MS, Gina sought support in the online MS community, which she found to be much more positive.
“I think it’s important to use as many positive words as you can when talking about MS.” It’s important to be realistic while also conveying hope, she says. “MS is an insidious disease that can cause many bad symptoms…that can be frightening, and you can't gloss over it, either.”
To give back to the online community that helped her so much, Gina started a blog to share her story and help others trying to learn about their diagnosis.
Though she deals with fatigue and cognitive dysfunction sometimes, Gina stays active swimming, biking, riding horses and playing with her sons, who are now 11 and 6.
Cognitive dysfunction is common in MS, with over half of people affected. It can impact memory, attention, planning, and word-finding. As with many aspects of MS, some people experience mild changes, while others face more challenges.
Gina says that while there’s still a lot of education about MS needed, she feels positive about the future of MS because there’s so much research being done.
Nathalie is an award-winning rower with multiple international titles.Courtesy of Sanofi
Nathalie was a teenager and a competitive athlete when she noticed her first symptoms of MS, but it would take four years of “limbo” before she was diagnosed.
“Ultimately, the diagnosis was more of a relief, than a shock,” she says. “Because when you have signs and you don’t know why, it’s worse than knowing, in the end, what you have.”
However, learning more about the disease—and the realities of disease progression—scared her.
“That glimpse of the future was direct and traumatic,” she says. Her neurologist explained that the disease evolves differently for everyone, and her situation might end up being serious or very mild. So, she decided to stop comparing herself to others with MS.
She said to herself, “We’ll see what happens, and you’ll manage it bit by bit.”
By 2005, Nathalie’s MS had progressed to the point of needing a wheelchair. However, that has not dampened her competitive spirit.
Nathalie began her international rowing career in 2009 and has won multiple world titles, including two Paralympic medals—silver in London and bronze in Tokyo. Now, at 42, she still trains 11 times a week. Fatigue can be a problem, and sometimes hard workouts leave her with muscle stiffness and shaking, but she credits her ongoing sports career for helping her feel in tune with her body’s signals.
“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my body, letting my body guide when I need to stop and take breaks,” she says.
Nathalie explains that she used to only look backwards because of the initial shock of her diagnosis. In time, she stopped thinking about what she couldn’t do anymore and focused on her future. She now lives in the following mindset: “Even when doors close, don’t miss out on those that open.” Instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she focuses on the opportunities she still has. Right now, this includes her training for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, where she will compete for another rowing medal.
“I only go forward,” she says. “Well, I try, anyway…It’s easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. But that’s what I try to do.”
Helga's Great Dane has become a helpful and beloved companion.Courtesy of Sanofi
When Helga first started having balance issues and numbness in her feet, she chalked it up to her training as a runner. But when the numbness moved to her face, she knew something was wrong. She never guessed it was MS.
“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely overwhelmed and clueless,” Helga says. “I felt that I had nowhere near enough information. I did not know anything about the disease…I had no idea that it was going to be a process of continually monitoring and adjusting your lifestyle.”
In the beginning, Helga’s symptoms developed slowly, and she didn’t appear ill to others. She was even able to run for a few years after her diagnosis, but she couldn’t do marathons anymore, and she began to fall frequently due to balance issues and right-foot dragging. Then her cognition issues became more problematic, especially in her job as a trainer in a printing company.
“My executive function, decision-making and short-term memory were affected to the point that I was eventually medically unfit for work,” she says. She stopped working in 2017.
However, she didn’t stop living life. Even though she could no longer run, she continued to swim competitively. She got a Great Dane puppy and trained him as a service dog to help her walk. She also serves as vice chair of the patient support organization Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, and she advises others who have been diagnosed to join a patient advocacy group as soon as possible to get reliable information and meet others with MS.
Helga says she is “hopeful” about the future of MS. “I must say that I am so grateful that we have all the new medications available, because my life would not be the same if it wasn't for that,” she adds.
Part of how she manages her MS is by looking at the positives.
“If I could tell the world one thing about MS, it would be that MS is an incurable disease of the nervous system, but it's also the greatest teacher of valuing your health, family, friends, and managing change in your life,” she says. “My life is diversified in a way that I never, ever thought it would, and MS has been honestly the greatest teacher.”
Each MS journey is unique – with each person impacted experiencing different struggles, successes, and feelings as they manage this unpredictable disease. But the common thread is clear – there is a critical need for information, support, and hope. We are proud to participate in World MS Day and share these incredible stories of living life while living with MS. To learn more about MS, go to https://www.sanofi.com/why-words-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-multiple-sclerosis.
This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Participants were compensated when applicable.
The American Kennel Club has crowned a new favorite.
The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.
According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.
The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.
The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.
The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.
The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.
The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.
The French Bulldog's complicated past took them from brothels (yes) to royals.— American Kennel Club (@akcdoglovers) March 16, 2023
Listen to their full history and more in the Uniquely Urban podcast episode of Down & Back: https://t.co/Jx2jPNCVMbpic.twitter.com/wBQd9fsRlt
They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.
“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”
They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.
The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.
An adorable French Bulldog
French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.
Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.
Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.
1 French Bulldogs
2 Labrador Retrievers
3 Golden Retrievers
4 German Shepherd Dogs
10 German Shorthaired Pointers
This article originally appeared on 03.17.23
"I'm so grateful that my dad was able to get me one. He worked so hard for that money.”
Insults of any kind are painful, but jabs towards someone’s financial status are their own breed.
In January 2023, Singapore-based Zoe Gabriel was on the receiving end of this particular flavor of mockery when she posted a TikTok about a purse from local retail brand Charles & Keith—a gift bought for her by her father.
In her excitement, the 17-year-old called the bag, which costs around $80, a “luxury” item as she unwrapped it. Her excitement was sadly cut short by some of the negative comments she received.
One comment seemed to stand out above the rest and prompted Gabriel to post an emotional response video.
The now-deleted comment, which read, "Who's gonna tell her?" followed by a laughing emoji, showed in the background as Gabriel tearfully explained why the purse meant so much to her as someone who grew up without a lot of money.
@zohtaco Replying to @cressy ♬ original sound - zoe 🦋
“We couldn’t buy new things as simple as bread from BreadTalk,” she said, referencing a popular Singaporean bakery. “That kind of thing was a luxury to us…Every time we passed by a store, my parents would just say next time, but next time would never come.”
With this context, Gabriel shared why the shameful comment was so inconsiderate.
"To you, an $80 bag may not be a luxury. For me and my family, it is a lot, and I'm so grateful that my dad was able to get me one. He worked so hard for that money.”
Gabriel’s video quickly went viral, even making its way to the actual founders of the Charles & Keith brand, Charles and Keith Wong. According to The Straits Times, the brothers were so “impressed” with Gabriel that they invited her and her father to have lunch and an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour at the company’s headquarters.
But they didn’t stop there.
The brand later posted a photo on its Instagram page showing Gabriel modeling a lilac-colored Charles & Keith bag for International Women’s Day, even announcing her as a new brand ambassador.
You’d think it would go without saying to just let people enjoy things, but we know that on the internet simple courtesy sometimes goes out the window. However, this is a heartwarming reminder that for every ignorant remark, there are also those who want to lift others up.Gabriel might have been ridiculed, but she has since seemed to come out on top, posting videos of herself wining and dining and dancing and traveling and basically having the time of her life. Sounds like the ultimate luxury to me.
This article originally appeared on 3.21.23
"Like myself, Drew has had a super hard life," she said.
Drew Barrymore, 48, has been in the public consciousness since she starred as Gertie in 1982’s mega-blockbuster, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” a performance that earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. So, it makes sense that many people of a certain age feel as if they’ve grown up with her.
Now, she’s an even more significant part of people’s lives as the host of “The Drew Barrymore Show,” which runs every weekday on CBS.
On May 25, the show’s Instagram page posted a touching video of an off-the-cuff moment between Barrymore and a fan during a taping of her show. In the clip, Barrymore realizes that someone in the audience is crying. So, instead of ignoring the fan, she jumps to action to see what is the matter.
The fan is Olivia Radford, 21, who recently moved to Los Angeles from Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Are you OK? Did anything happen? Whose a** do I have to kick?” she said while approaching the audience member. The crying fan’s friend clarified things for Barrymore, saying she loves her. “Oh, thank God, it’s nothing bad,” Barrymore exclaimed.
“I was like, ‘Tell me who they are, and I will take them down.’ Who made you cry?” she joked.
“You’re just, like, my childhood idol. I don’t want to be that person to cry,” Radford admitted. Then Barrymore assured her that emotional outbursts are acceptable and encouraged in her studio.
“Oh, screw that! Be that person!” Barrymore said.
"I really love you. I'm sorry," the fan said as she was handed a tissue. The talk show host then sat on Radford's lap and comforted her. “I have the urge to do this," Barrymore said as she held her.
“This is such an honor for me to meet you. I’m sorry I have dumpling breath,” Barrymore told Radford. “It’s so funny that you would say you don’t want to cry here,” she continued. “I cry here all the time.”
Radford told Upworthy that her "all-time favorite movie growing up" was "50 First Dates" starring Barrymore and Adam Sandler. "As you can tell from the video, I'm quite an emotional person," she told Upworthy. "I cry every single time I watch that movie. It’s extremely inspiring. I’m a huge fan of Adam Sandler as well!"
Radford feels a kinship with Barrymore that goes even deeper than her films.
"Like myself, Drew has had a super hard life," Radford said. "Drew is an extremely loving person, despite all the hardships she’s had to overcome. At the taping, she told me that there was a reason we met and that she sees herself in me, which felt super special."
Radford was able to briefly speak with Barrymore after the taping, and the talk show host wished her luck on her new life in Los Angeles. She hopes to make the experience permanent by getting Barrymore's words of advice tattooed in her handwriting because "she told me to always 'Be that person.'"
The tender exchange between Barrymore and Radford shows that the talk show host is just as sweet and caring off-camera as she is when she does her show. They always say you should never meet your heroes, but it’s probably a good idea if yours is Drew Barrymore.
We rarely hear this perspective.
Just like there are no hard-set rules for raising children, there is no perfect guidebook on how to be a supportive parent to an older child. As parents watch their kids grow and start their own families, it can be hard for them to navigate the new role they have in their lives.
That’s why Barb Schmidt, who goes by PeacefulBarb on TikTok, shared her list of the ‘7 Things Adult Children May Need to Hear’ from their parents. It’s a great starting point for parents who aren’t sure what their older children need.
Schmidt is an international best-selling author, sought-after motivational speaker, mindset coach and mindfulness teacher.
Here’s her list:
I'm so proud to be your parent.
I'm sorry for any parenting choices I made that hurt you.
I'm here to listen if you want to tell me about it.
You are incredibly precious to me.
I will always love you no matter what.
My life changed for the better because you are in it.
Your worth is not determined by your productivity, job title, or your relationship status.
Tell me about your hopes and dreams for your life. I want to know more about what matters to you.
What's something you wish a parental figure would say to you now that you're an adult?🤔 📝Let me know below… #innerchildhealing #vlog #gentlereminder #awareness #lifeadvice #fyp #communication #innerchildhealingjourney
The post struck a nerve with many who wished their parents knew how to express their support in a healthy way.
"I’m desperately trying to make my mother understand that this is what I need to hear from her. But she doesn’t get it," Clelia wrote.
"This makes me a bit teary because yes, I absolutely want to hear those things and have my parent mean them," Han wrote.
A new mom asked how babies practice breathing, and Nurse Jen delivered an answer that's blowing people's minds.
There are so many questions out there that we don't realize we want to know the answers to until someone else asks. Once the question is in the vicinity of our ear holes, suddenly we're like, "Oh, yeah. How does that work?" That's pretty much how this TikTok video went for a lot of viewers, myself included.
I have had four (yes, four) children exit my body, and it never dawned on me to ask further than the initial question of how babies breathe in there. It's a question that most new moms either don't think to ask or ask only once and get a similar answer to the one I received, which is that they take in oxygen via their umbilical cord connected to the placenta, so they don't need to breathe in the traditional way we think of until after birth.
But when a new mom asked the people of the internet how her unborn baby was able to practice breathing without drowning, Jen Hamilton, an OB nurse, decided to answer in a video.
Hamilton starts off her response by guaranteeing she's about to blow the mom's "motherforking mind," and I can tell you from reading the comments, she's a promise keeper. Minds were blown. She explains that babies are covered in a thick waxy substance called vernix that protects their, "skin from falling off," while they hang out in amniotic fluid for months. But it's her explanation of how hiccups help babies practice breathing and how babies know it's time to breathe air that makes you appreciate how amazing the process is.
"Under your baby's lungs are a muscle called the diaphragm. Hiccups are a spasm of the diaphragm," the OB nurse explains. "Whenever we get hiccups it sucks air into our lungs really quickly, which is what makes that sound when air passes through our vocal cords." She goes on to explain that when babies get hiccups the spasm is expanding their lungs by filling with amniotic fluid, which is how babies practice breathing.
Hamilton continues her explanation of how babies know when to breathe on the outside while not needing to breathe on the inside.
"While your baby is inside of you, there are two vessels. These vessels bypass the lungs cause it's getting all of its oxygen from you," Hamilton says.
She isn't done leaving the internet with its collective mouth agape. Hamilton tells the mom about a nerve in the face of babies that helps them to know when to breathe. That is the most fascinating part, but you have to see her explain it because writing it out just wouldn't do it justice. Watch her brilliant explanation below.
#stitch with @Cori
Her mother-in-law called her "petty."
Every parent knows that sometimes their kids, especially teenagers, can say things in the heat of the moment they don’t really mean. But the mother at the center of this story took her teenage son’s outburst seriously and turned it into an opportunity to teach him a lesson. The question is, did she go too far to make a point?
A 35-year-old mom wanted to learn if she had been too hard on her 14-year-old son, so she shared her story on Reddit’s AITA subforum (we've abbreviated the forum's name to avoid printing foul language). AITA is where people vote on whether the poster was right or wrong in how they handled a situation.
“Lately, he has been acting out a little at home and school, so I decided to sit him down to try and figure out what was happening,” the mother wrote in a post that received over 800 comments. She said that the boy had been cursing out his parents as well as his teacher.
“He is my only child, and his dad and I are still together. I tried to sit him down and ask why he was acting out…but he wouldn’t budge," the mother wrote. “I asked him whether there were any issues going on at school because if there was, I would be more than happy to help him.”
But all the boy could muster was that “all 14-year-olds should act out a little.”
When the mother pressed her child for an answer, he blurted, “My life would be better if I didn’t have a mother.”
The mother was immensely hurt by her son’s words, so she decided to show him whether his life was, in fact, better without her around and she went on strike.
Spoiler alert: His life wasn’t better.
That night, the mom made dinner for herself and her husband. “When my son smelt food, he came downstairs and asked where his was,” the mom wrote. “I responded, ‘I made dinner for myself and your dad. Since life is easier without a mom, there’s some heatable food in the freezer.’”
The next day when he got up for breakfast, there was none to be found. “Where’s my breakfast?” the son asked. “Your mother would normally do that for you,” the mom responded. “But if life is easier without one, you’ll need to prepare your own breakfast. Also, take the bus to and from school.”
After “a few swears,” the teen made cereal and hopped on the school bus. The mother believes the teen may have complained about his mother’s strike to her mother-in-law, who called her, saying that she was “a horrible mother” who was “starving my child” and “being petty.”
To see if she did the right thing by going on strike, the mom posted her story to AITA, and the commenters overwhelmingly said that she was right in the situation.
"It’s not like you actually deprived him of anything," Shrimp-34 wrote in the most popular post on the thread. "He still had access to food and a way to get to school. It was definitely petty, but he wasn’t harmed in any way, and maybe sometimes you have to fight fire with fire?"
"He isn't being starved, he's 14, he can feed himself,” bahahahahahhhaha wrote in a post that received over 2,300 upvotes. “He isn't being kept home from school, he's 14, he can take the bus. [You would be wrong] if you kept this going for weeks, but doing it for a couple of days to help him realize all the things you do for him and appreciate them better is actually a really good life lesson—and its natural consequences. He doesn't want a mom? You are letting him have his wish."
A few commenters thought the mother should have taken the high road.
"I know it's hard, but you can't take that stuff personally and then retaliate like a teenager," Turbulent_Cow2355 wrote. "You have to model the behavior that you want to see in your kids, and that means taking the higher road, even when don't want to. You are being petty. Don't teach your child that pettiness is a good idea for conflict resolution."
The good news is that the mother and son were able to patch things up, and the teen’s realization helped him avoid further trouble.
“My son had a half day, so I texted him asking if he would like me to pick him up or the bus,” the mom wrote in a story update. “He texted back, saying he wanted me to get him. So I did. In the car, he immediately apologized for what he said, and he said that his friends were acting out, so he wanted to fit in. His friends got suspended today for something they did, and they wanted my son to join. My son did not, and he said he was sorry for how he was acting. I also apologized for my actions.”