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Read one woman's heartfelt letter to her father, an addict, on Father's Day.

I never thought I’d get a wedding dance with my alcoholic father. But after more than 20 years, I’m letting myself dream.

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Fathers Everywhere

Dear Dad,

Lately, I’ve felt like Katherine Heigl in "27 Dresses" — closets overflowing with bridesmaids dresses, and weddings every month.

But as I stand next to my best friends at their weddings, I’m rarely watching the bride. Instead, I love to watch the father of the bride walk his little girl down the aisle to give her away.


Honestly, Dad, for so many years I wasn’t sure we would ever have that moment together.

Growing up as the daughter of an addict, I felt too afraid to invite you to big events because I thought you’d show up three sheets to the wind and forget the alphabet.

Me and my dad. All photos here from me, used with permission.

In that moment when everyone stands on their tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the bride and her father, I used to hold my breath and sometimes turn away.

Like turning my head when a nurse draws blood, I couldn’t stomach watching their pure joy. I guess it’s pretty textbook “Alcoholic Father,” but I pictured you divorced and passed out on a couch in some crappy apartment with an address I would refuse to write on an invitation. In my imagination, I would resort to walking myself down the aisle. Alone.

Now that you’re sober, I like to watch those dads walk their daughters down the aisle because I know we will have our moment.

I know you’ll be there. I cry when I watch my friends dance with their “Daddy” in the father-daughter dance, but mostly I smile with the excited kind of butterflies. I can’t wait for our dance.

For so long, I never let myself dream of you sober on my wedding day, but now I can give myself permission.

You’ll hold me close and whisper something in my ear like, “You’ll always be my little girl” before we swallow those lumps and embrace the ugly cry.

You’ll lift my lacy white veil from my face and kiss me goodbye. We will dance to our song, "Butterfly Kisses," and I’ll get to remind you of how proud I am — how proud I am that all of you will be there to give me away on my big day.

I know it’s usually the father saying to his daughter, “I’m so proud of who you’ve become.”

But, on Father’s Day this year, and at my wedding someday, I’ll say it to you: Dad, I’m so proud of the man you’ve become. You’ve devoted your entire life to recovery. You fought to keep your family. You showed us the strength and determination we knew you had buried inside of you.

Please forgive me for taking a while to learn how to trust you again.

I’ve never known this kind of love that drives out fear. For a lot of years, I couldn’t come to you for advice or help, and it might take some time to accept this joy that steals my heart away.

Every night, I pray that your sobriety will stick around. I know it’s an ongoing journey that we’ll both keep stumbling down. There are a lot of people out there who are going through the same struggle.

Let’s show the people still stuck in the darkest pits of addiction that there’s actually hope for a beautiful future. We know it isn’t easy, but it’s possible.

There’s something else I want to say, before the day is done: I’m sorry, Dad.

I’m sorry for all the years that I wished Mom would just sign those divorce papers. I even wrote a book called “Closing the Door.” But I just didn’t see any way out.

It felt like life played some kind of sick "Groundhog Day" joke where we kept waking up to the same dark day over and over again. I forgot how to breathe.

Somehow, we all stuck together as a family and learned, eventually, how to set a dinner table for four.

So when the time comes for you to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day, I’m thankful you’ll get to sit with Mom in the front row.

You’ve taught me what true love looks like, fighting through all the fumbling and touchdown moments of marriage.

You’ve shown me exactly what it means to uphold your wedding vows: “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

I vow to keep learning to love you through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful moments of being your daughter. And I can’t wait for that DJ to announce: “Please turn your attention to the center of the dance floor. The bride and her father will now have their special dance.”

Love always,

Ashley

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.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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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.

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