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Cigna 2017

When Eve Walker was 12, she lost her sister Louise to a devastating tragedy.

Eve looked up to 16-year-old Louise. “She was so beautiful and so popular. But we fought like cats and dogs," Eve laughs. One night, Louise left the house to go to a party. Next thing Eve remembers, her parents were screaming.

“They rushed out the door,” she says. “When my parents came back, they told us that my sister had died.” Devastated, the Walkers grieved silently — never explaining to Eve what, exactly, had happened to Louise.


Flash-forward nearly 16 years to when Eve started having odd, unexplainable symptoms — tiredness, tingling — that left her feeling unsettled. Because her parents had never explained the cause of Louise's death, it didn't occur to Eve that her symptoms might be related.

All photos courtesy of Eve Walker.

As her symptoms continued to increase, Eve thought them odd but not enough to be concerned. She ignored them — until she couldn't.

It started with having a hard time climbing stairs and inclines. Her breath became labored even though she was perfectly fit. She felt strange and fatigued.

One day, her legs seemed to stop working. “I could barely pick them up. They felt like steel,” she says.

Her symptoms persisted, and Eve persisted in ignoring them.

Then one night it all came together. “I felt like something bit me on my leg,” she says. “It was a pain that shot up my leg and my arm and I remember feeling it in my face and my jaw.” That’s when all of her symptoms — the shortness of breath, the heaviness in her limbs, the tingling pain in her body — suddenly clicked.

She called a neighbor and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

Luckily, Eve made it to the hospital in time to get help — and to learn what had been causing her strange symptoms for so long.

“They told me I’d had a heart attack, and they told me I had heart disease,” Eve says. She learned that she had been living with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes the heart muscle abnormally thick and makes it difficult for the body to pump blood.

She started on medication, became more careful with her diet, avoided placing a strain on her body with rigorous exercise, and committed to keeping the doctor’s appointments necessary to making sure she wasn’t in danger of a cardiac event. Ultimately, she had a defibrillator put in that would restart her heart automatically should anything happen.

It was around that time that a doctor also had her finally look into her family history.

“It wasn’t until I was 40 years old that I learned my sister died of heart disease,” Eve says.

Had she known all along what had happened to Louise, Eve might have been able to get checked for her own symptoms earlier and avoided the narrow miss of her heart attack entirely. As it stands, she’s lucky to be here today.

Though she wishes she’d known about her family’s secret, Eve understands why her parents didn’t share it. “I didn’t blame them,” she says. “I mean, they lost a child. Maybe it was just too painful to talk about. Maybe they didn’t have the right words.”

Now, Eve dedicates her time to making sure others know the dangers of not looking into your family’s past.

She’s a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association's “Go Red for Women” initiative, which is working to help end heart disease and strokes among women. And she’s already seen her work pay off firsthand.

“One of the women was with us as an advocate because her mother died of a heart attack,” Eve says. One evening, when the group found out that the woman herself had not been checked for her own heart health, Eve urged her to do so. “Sure enough, she had some sort of heart disease and needed to get on medication immediately.”

For many families and individuals, looking into potentially dangerous health history can be scary, so it's avoided. But Eve says it's better to just bite the bullet. Know your four health numbers — your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and Body Mass Index (BMI) — and get regular check-ups, especially if you're feeling strange. Don't put off seeing a doctor.

"You've got to face it to fix it," Eve says. "That's the bottom line!"

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

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

People share experiences with intrusive thoughts.

When I was younger I used to think I was dying or that I would get kidnapped by a random stranger, but I kept it to myself because I thought something was wrong with me. I thought that telling people would confirm this fear, so I kept it inside my entire life until I was an adult and learned it was part of ADHD and other disorders, such as OCD and PTSD. But it doesn't have to be part of a disorder at all—a vast amount of people just have intrusive thoughts, and a Twitter user, Laura Gastón, is trying to normalize them for others.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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