There are some things life doesn't prepare you for.

Like sitting your 9- and 10-year-old kids down on the living room couch to tell them that your cancer came back.

Christi Nelson had already been through the wringer— chemo, hospitalization, a mastectomy — when her oncologist delivered the news. Less than six months after being declared breast-cancer-free, the cancer was back. A second round of chemo was the only shot for the 42-year-old.


So Christi and her husband, Mike, called a family meeting with their sons, Eddie and Archer, to break the bad news. That's when Archer decided he had something to say about the situation.

Eddie, Christi, Mike, and Archer on Mother's Day 2014, just after mastectomy surgery. Photo by Christi Nelson. Courtesy of the family.

"I remember Archer got real quiet," Mike said in a phone interview.

"Then he goes, 'I think cancer is stupid. You know why? Because Mom kicked its butt once, and it came back to get beat up again.'"

Mike says his son's positive attitude helped keep him from getting too dark. "You don't want to see that look of worry in your kid's eye. No kid should have to worry about things like that," he says.

Archer and Eddie. Photo courtesy of the family.

Archer wasn't done surprising his parents:

At the time, Mike, a longtime radio DJ in the Bay Area, had been teaching Archer how to burn CDs— "because every cool kid needs to learn '90s technology," he says jokingly. But when he walked into his son's room one day, Archer suddenly turned bashful.

"I think the CD player's broken," he said.

Mike looked inside and pulled out a piece of crumpled-up paper, cut into the shape of a CD. Scrawled on the paper in little-boy handwriting were the words "Boob Spelled Backwards Is Boob."

Archer with his dad. Photo courtesy of the family.

"I made up a song for Mom," Archer said, explaining that he couldn't figure out how to get the song out of his imagination and into the world. So he put his paper "CD" in the stereo, hoping it would play the music he had in his head.

Archer's song combined some surprisingly poetic imagery with nuggets of kid wisdom like, "Never forget the good things in life / Like candy, life, eating, having fun."

Mike was touched. He told the story to some colleagues at KFOG, the San Francisco radio station where he works. That's when his producer recruited the band Spearhead's Michael Franti to set Archer's lyrics to music. Then, they started asking every musician that came through the KFOG studios to contribute something to the song.

"The Grateful Dead heard about it and said, 'We want to be a part of it.' ... They could be doing a million things with their time, and they took the time to do this. I was speechless."

"The idea was to make it like a 'We Are the World' for breast cancer," Mike says.

The couple was stunned by the response from artists.

Christi Nelson just before having her chemotherapy port installed on Oct. 11, 2013. Photo by Kimberly Medina. Courtesy of the family.

"Vance Joy was on tour with Taylor Swift and came to the station and spent an hour working on the song," says Mike. "The Grateful Dead heard about it and said, 'We want to be a part of it.' This was right before they did their 50th anniversary tours; they could be doing a million things with their time, and they took the time to do this. I was speechless."

Within eight months, they had close to a hundred bits of audio and video of dozens of artists performing parts of Archer's song — everyone from Hozier and Noel Gallagher to Steve Earle and Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.

Milky Chance even sang a few lines into an iPhone backstage at a concert, and Imagine Dragons and Sarah Silverman posed for photos holding a sign with the campaign's hashtag, #BoobProject:

@imaginedragons support the #boobproject! Do you? Pls watch video in bio and SHARE with friends #breastcancerawareness @bcrfcure
A photo posted by KFOG (@kfogradio) on



The great @sarahkatesilverman supports the #BoobProject, do you?
A photo posted by KFOG (@kfogradio) on

They edited together the footage, creating a star-studdedmusic video and single, and the proceeds benefit breast cancer research.

"It's so exciting to see it grow from innocent, tender beginnings," Mike says of the song."It's just a kid trying to make sense of something that even most adults find pretty hard to comprehend," he adds.

"Why is this disease affecting so many women? Why is this shattering so many lives?"

Through sales of the song and donations collected through BoobProject.Org, Mike and Christi hope to raise $100,000 or more for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Since the song came to life, Christi says she's seen a change in her son.Archer wasn't always the most outwardly expressive kid. "His compassion has grown," she says. "He's heeding his emotional side and he's learning that it's OK to do that."


The fam. Courtesy of the fam.

Both parents say they cry every time they hear the song. "It's made me hyper-aware of the relationship I have with my kid, and that I don't want to let him go," Christi says. "There are feelings of mortality, like I have to cherish this moment. I just love him so much."

Fortunately for the Nelsons, the second round of chemo treatment appears, so far, to have worked.

At Christi's recent three-month scan, no tumors were detected.

"I remember when she called me, I was grocery shopping," says Mike. "I walked around Safeway crying, pushing a shopping cart full of vegetables. I felt so happy."

Mike and Christi on a couple's getaway to the San Mateo Coast after Christi was first declared cancer-free, July 20, 2014. Photo by Mike Nelson. Courtesy of the family.

Mike is quick to note that for every story like Christi's, there are thousands of others with unhappy endings — a fact he hopes will change with continued research on the disease.

"When Christi turned 40, she went in for her first mammogram, but if she had put that off for a year or two, she wouldn't be here right now," he says, adding that he hopes the song will inspire people to put their health first. "Feel your boobs, have a doctor check it out, make sure you're OK."

Watch the "Boob Spelled Backwards Is Boob" video here:

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

What you look like in a selfie camera isn't really what you look like in real life.

We've all done it: You snap a selfie, look at it, say, "OMG is my nose swollen?" then try again from a different angle. "Wait, now my forehead looks weird. And what's up with my chin?" You keep trying various angles and distances, trying to get a picture that looks like how you remember yourself looking. Whether you finally land on one or not, you walk away from the experience wondering which photo actually looks like the "real" you.

I do this, even as a 40-something-year-old who is quite comfortable with the face I see in the mirror. So, it makes me cringe imagining a tween or teen, who likely take a lot more selfies than I do, questioning their facial features based on those snapshots. When I'm wondering why my facial features look weird in selfies it's because I know my face well enough to know that's not what it looks like. However, when a young person whose face is changing rapidly sees their facial features distorted in a photo, they may come to all kinds of wrong conclusions about what they actually look like.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel.

A stranger knocked on the door of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday morning shortly before Shabbat service. It was 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, so Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, 46, made him a cup of tea. The rabbi and Malik Faisal Akram, 44, a British national, spoke for a few moments and then the rabbi went on to perform his regular 10 a.m. Shabbat prayers for his congregation.

When the rabbi turned his back to face Jerusalem, he heard a click come from the stranger. "And it turned out, that it was his gun," Cytron-Walker told CBS News.

Akram began screaming and a congregant, Jeffrey Cohen, the vice president of the synagogue's board of trustees, quickly pulled out his phone and dialed 911. A livestream broadcasting the prayer ceremony to congregants participating from home caught some of what Akram was shouting. "I'm gunned up. I'm ammo-ed up," he told someone he called nephew. "Guess what, I will die."

The FBI got word of the 911 call and quickly set up a perimeter around the synagogue. Akram took four people hostage, including the rabbi.

Keep Reading Show less
More

The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

Keep Reading Show less