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Joy

7 powerful photographs of terminally ill patients living out their final wishes

Few gifts are greater than having your final wish granted.

All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

She wanted to see "my favorite painting one last time."


Before 54-year-old Mario passed away, he had one special goodbye he needed to say ... to his favorite giraffe.

Mario had worked as a maintenance man at the Rotterdam zoo in the Netherlands for over 25 years. After his shifts, he loved to visit and help care for the animals, including the giraffes.



As Mario's fight against terminal brain cancer came to an end, all he wanted to do was visit the zoo one last time. He wanted to say goodbye to his colleagues — and maybe share a final moment with some of his furry friends.

Thanks to one incredible organization, Mario got his wish.

humanity, culture, inspirational

Kissed by a giraffe.

All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

"To say goodbye to the animals."

The Ambulance Wish Foundation, a Dutch nonprofit, helps people like Mario experience one final request.

It's a lot like Make-A-Wish, only it's not just for kids.

In 2006, Kees Veldboer, who was an ambulance driver at the time, was moving a patient from one hospital to another. The patient was a terminally ill man who had spent three straight months confined to a hospital bed. During the trip from one hospital to the other, the patient told Veldboer that he wanted to see the Vlaardingen canal one last time. He wanted to sit in the sun and wind and smell the water again before going back inside.

Netherlands, mental health, charity

Taking in the sunset.

All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

"To see the ocean again."

Veldboer made the patient's last wish happen, and as tears of joy streamed down the man's face, Veldboer knew he had tapped into a powerful way to bring peace to people in their final days.

Soon after, the Ambulance Wish Foundation was born.

Based in the Netherlands, Veldboer's organization scoffs at the logistical hurdles of transporting terminally ill patients who need high levels of care and, often, lots of medical equipment. The Ambulance Wish Foundation employs a fleet of custom-built ambulances and always has highly trained medical staff on hand for emergencies.

wellbeing, friendship, love and grief, memories

Saying goodbye.

All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

"To visit my best friend's grave."

Their message? Positive end-of-life experiences are far too important to pass up.

Today, the AWF has over 230 volunteers and has fulfilled nearly 7,000 wishes.

Even more beautiful than the work this organization does, though, are the things its patients are asking for.

illness, life-threatening illness, living, adventure

Some tasty treats.

All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

"To enjoy a delicious ice cream cone."

The Make-A-Wish Foundation specializes in granting wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses, many of whom have barely begun to live. The children's wishes run the gamut, from starring in a music video to a day as a hero soldier in the Army.

But what does Veldboer do for older folks who have already experienced so much? What do their wishes look like?

Mostly, it's the little things they cherish, like seeing their home one last time or spending a few hours just looking at something beautiful.

Veldboer, in an interview with the BBC, describes one woman who had not been home for six months. When they brought her into her living room on a stretcher, she hoisted herself up and stayed there for hours, doing nothing but looking around — likely replaying an entire lifetime worth of memories — before quietly asking them to take her away.

Another patient simply wanted to see her favorite Rembrandt painting again.

museum, art, history, community

Taking in some amazing art.

All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

"To see my favorite painting one last time."

And another just wanted to spend an afternoon watching dolphins play.

dolphins, beach, ocean, nature, connection

Hello to the dolphins.

All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

"To watch the dolphins play."

On and on the wishes go — about four of them fulfilled every day. People who just want to see their grandchild for the first time, or stand on the beach again before they can't anymore.

Turns out that life's simplest pleasures just might be its most meaningful.

Sometimes it feels like there's never enough time. Not in a day. Not in a year. Not in a life.

weddings, photography, family, Europe

Getting to be at the wedding.

All photos by the Ambulance Wish Foundation, used with permission.

"To attend my granddaughter's wedding."

But maybe it's better to cherish what we have rather than spend so much time thinking about all the things we haven't done yet.

Maybe the things we remember at the end aren't the time we went skydiving or the time we hiked across Europe. When our time is up, maybe what we'll remember most is more mundane — the tacky wallpaper in the house we grew up in, a sunny day spent on the water, or those little everyday moments spent with the people we love the most.

Whatever it is, it's comforting to know there are people out there who want our last memories of this place to be good ones.

I can't think of a more wonderful job.


This article originally appeared on 09.30.15

An English doctor named Edward Jenner took incredible risks to try to rid his world of smallpox. Because of his efforts and the efforts of scientists like him, the only thing between deadly diseases like the ones below and extinction are people who refuse to vaccinate their kids. Don't be that parent.

Unfortunately, because of the misinformation from the anti-vaccination movement, some of these diseases have trended up in a really bad way over the past several years.



Wellness involves a lot of personal choices and the tradeoff between personal liberty and shared public good.

Measles is the starkest example. There were about 61 cases of measles in all of 2012, but in just the first seven months of 2014, there have been nearly 600.

As this chart shows, vaccinations are not like taxes rates or even freedom of speech. The impact of one's personal health choices can have a significant impact on the population around them, in their communities and even on a national level. It makes that trade-off all the more complicated and one not easily distilled into one convenient political or religious ideology.

Obviously, the topic of vaccinations has become immensely more complicated since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020. But history teaches us valuable lessons and information is power. No matter how you feel about vaccines today, this chart is a reminder that medical science can be used for incredible good. Without breakthrough vaccinations in the past, many of us would likely not be here to have the debate about our personal choices now and into the future.


This article originally appeared on 11.21.14 and this infographic is based on data from 2012.

All images by Rebecca Cohen, used with permission.

Here’s a thought.

Self proclaimed feminist killjoy Rebecca Cohen is a cartoonist based in Berkeley, California.

Here’s what she has to say about her role as an artist taken from her Patreon page.


She says:

"In these trying times, the world needs a hero to resist the forces of tyranny.

That hero is definitely not me.


I just draw funny pictures and like to share my opinions. I'm Rebecca, also known as @gynostar."

Enjoy one of her comics below.

friends, discrimination, hurtful words

An all to common exchange.

All images by Rebecca Cohen, used with permission.

comics, jokes Rebecca Cohen

It’s only words.

All images by Rebecca Cohen, used with permission.

power of words, conversation, hostile environments

Simple jokes contain implicit ideas.

All images by Rebecca Cohen, used with permission.

equality, community, inclusive

Discussing the impact of words.

All images by Rebecca Cohen, used with permission.

This article originally appeared on 10.19.16



Photo from YouTube video.

Photo of Skylar.

Even though he was born "Katherine Elizabeth," Skylar lived like a regular little boy for most of his childhood.

He was happy.


This is Skylar.

A photo collection of a young Skylar.

Photo from YouTube video.

Little Skylar.

Photo from YouTube video.

But when puberty hit, he started feeling intense pressure to be "normal" and fit in. So he tried to present as more traditionally "feminine."

Puberty happens.

Photo from YouTube video.

But he couldn't shake the feeling that he was denying a huge part of himself. Late in high school, he started taking testosterone.

Eating and feeling more comfortable.

Photo from YouTube video.

Skylar started feeling more comfortable immediately. And before he knew it, he was at his "dream school," having the time of his life. And taking lots and lots of pictures of himself.

A person and their dog.

Photo from YouTube video.

Access to medical care played a big part in Skylar becoming the person he is today, but that wasn't all.

Check out his story and walk five years in his shoes. It's definitely a perspective we don't see often enough:

This article originally appeared on 08.30.14