How 5 parents and teachers are talking about Trump with children this week.

Late on Election Day, as victory slipped further and further out of Hillary Clinton's reach, CNN commentator Van Jones had some powerful words.

"It's hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us," he began. "You tell your kids don't be a bully. You tell your kids don't be a bigot. You tell your kids do your homework and be prepared. And then you have this outcome."

"You have people putting children to bed tonight, and they're afraid of breakfast," he said. "They're afraid of, 'How do I explain this to my children?'"


Clinton supporters were devastated by the loss. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Truthfully, this is hard to explain. In many cases, you might feel like you can't explain Trump's election to your kids. But as any parent or teacher knows, you also can't crawl into a hole and hide away during dark times. Our kids need us to be brave, to explain things to them that may not make sense, and to give them some sense of hope.

So I talked to five people who are helping our kids this week. I asked them how they're handling those difficult conversations. This is what they said.

1. Meet Leyna Odell and her 6-year-old daughter, Piper.

"I talked to my daughter about it and said I was sad my side lost but that now we have to try more than ever to be kind and helpful to people," Leyna wrote.

She told her daughter that she needs to be a friend to everyone and help people who might be scared of hurting. Then she encouraged Piper to draw out her feelings.

Photos by Leyna Odell, used with permission.

Leyna explained, "It's 'the week we don't like,' showing Clinton supporters in the rain, her voting for Clinton, and then a picture of an angry guy saying he doesn't like anyone with her asking, 'Can I help?'

2. Meet Lindsay Reno, a sixth-grade teacher outside of Boston.

Lindsay said most of her students are immigrants or children of immigrants, from places like the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Haiti. About 80% of them speak a language other than English at home.

"What made today really difficult is, as a teacher, you have the obligation to be a calming force among your students," she said. "But it was hard not to show our feelings on our faces as we talked to our kids (on Wednesday)."

"There were some kids crying really hard because they were worried about their parents being deported."

Lindsay said she did not tell her students that Donald Trump should not be president. That, she said, would be crossing a moral line. Instead, she wanted them to understand how the electoral college works, what the Constitution says, and how the system can improve.

But after she explained that, it was pretty obvious that the conversation would need to go further. "There were some kids crying really hard because they were worried about their parents being deported," she said.

So she and her fellow teachers did the best they could to be there for the students, listen to them, answer their questions, and above all, show them that they are loved.

"We didn't really know what we were doing," she said. "It wasn't perfect."

But it was a start.

3. Meet Genevieve Fitzgerald Davis and her 4-year-old son, Jonah.

Photo by Genevieve Fitzgerald, used with permission.

Jonah is too young to follow the election closely, but even he could see Trump's unique brand of hatred and bigotry.

"At one point he was with my mom, and they were watching the news, and Jonah said, 'Oh, that's Donald Trump, he doesn't like me.'" Genevieve said. "He made the connection himself; he said, 'He doesn't like me because I'm brown, and Donald Trump doesn't like brown people.'"

The day after Trump became president-elect, Genevieve said she and Jonah only briefly touched on the results. "I didn't want to ruin his whole day," she said.

But she did tell him two things. First, when Jonah was confused because "Donald Trump is not nice," she told him that it didn't matter because they were always going to be nice to people. And second, she wanted him to know that just because the result wasn't what they wanted, it didn't mean they weren't going to fight for something better.

"The more I can help out with my local government or donations or volunteering, I want him to see me as an example," she said. "I want him to be proud of me."

4. Meet Patrick Wilson, a high school teacher.

Photo via Patrick Wilson, used with permission.

"Kids are definitely more informed than they used to be," Patrick said of his ninth-, 10th- and 12th-grade social studies students.

So he didn't hold back on diving into the nitty gritty with them. As each period entered his room, they were met by the full electoral college map on the front board. Patrick led discussions on how Trump won key battleground states and how his election might affect the Supreme Court and the actions of Congress.

But the nuts and bolts of the election wasn't the only thing on the kids' minds.

"The hardest question I got today, one that took me back, a kid said, 'I don't understand how the country elected a racist.'" Another girl was worried about Mike Pence and his harsh views on abortion rights.

Patrick didn't know how to answer. He just tried to be a comforting presence as much as he could.

"I said, 'He's going to be President Trump, not King Trump,' He's not going to be able to do whatever he wants."

5. Meet Emily Ellsworth and her 6-year-old daughter, Abigail.

Photo by Emily Ellsworth, used with permission.

Emily has spent the majority of this election cycle actively campaigning for Hillary Clinton. So her 6-year-old daughter, Abigail, quickly became enamored with the idea of our country's first female president.

It gave her hope that she, too, might one day run the country. "She told me several times that she thought she'd be next," Emily said. But it was not to be, at least not this election cycle.

"(Wednesday) morning she woke up and ran into my room and asked me who won, and I had to tell her," Emily said, holding back tears of her own. "She didn't believe me. She was in shock. And she cried."

Emily says she had planned on talking to her daughter about the importance of hard work, preparation, and kindness. About how people came together to vote for what was right. Instead, she's giving her a lesson on how to deal with crushing disappointment. But Emily is determined to find a positive lesson in all of this.

"We're going to have some hard conversations about protecting and being there for her friends who are scared," she said. "Children, and adults, who are scared of what a Trump presidency represents for them."

The one common thread I found is that we can't hide from this.

But that doesn't mean we have to accept it. We can fight back by being kind to one another, by maintaining hope, and by continuing to work toward a better world.

Whatever we choose to do, America's children will be watching.

via Kat Stickler / TikTok

Kat Stickler has created a hilarious series of videos about her husband that a lot of women say they can relate to because theirs behave the exact same way.

Stickler is a mother who shares funny videos about her domestic life on TikTok where she's earned over six million followers.

In the videos, she transforms into her husband Mike by throwing on a backward baseball cap and adopting a deeper voice. From the videos, it's pretty clear that Mike always wants some sort of praise for doing the things he's supposed to do.

The interesting thing about the couple is that they went from dating to parents pretty much overnight. Three months after their first date, Kat was pregnant and they were married.

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via Kat Stickler / TikTok

Kat Stickler has created a hilarious series of videos about her husband that a lot of women say they can relate to because theirs behave the exact same way.

Stickler is a mother who shares funny videos about her domestic life on TikTok where she's earned over six million followers.

In the videos, she transforms into her husband Mike by throwing on a backward baseball cap and adopting a deeper voice. From the videos, it's pretty clear that Mike always wants some sort of praise for doing the things he's supposed to do.

The interesting thing about the couple is that they went from dating to parents pretty much overnight. Three months after their first date, Kat was pregnant and they were married.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer β€” 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 β€” and for longer β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” 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."