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It was a cold, dreary day during my freshman year of college when the doctor said life-changing words:

“You have PCOS," she said unemotionally as she scribbled words on her notepad.

It wasn’t exactly a surprise. My older sister was diagnosed a few years before too, and we’d both experienced the same symptoms leading up to the diagnosis. Still, it wasn't a thrilling thing to be told.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal endocrine disorder that affects between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 women of childbearing age. As many as 5 million women in the United States could be affected, and many cases are undiagnosed. PCOS can cause irregular periods, infertility issues, and drastic changes in appearance, including acne, facial hair, and weight gain.

Being a teenager was already frustrating, but then my health decided to throw that curve ball.

So what did I do? I started running — a lot. Running eventually became my physical and mental refuge. It was a way to release my anger at what I thought was an attack on my womanhood and a way to tone up the parts of my body I had control over.

I completed the San Francisco Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in April 2015. Image from the author, used with permission.

I also changed the way I ate, and I started trying to find a therapist who wouldn't break my bank account.

But the most decisive and important things I've learned, and am still learning, aren't the things my doctor told me during that first appointment. Instead, this illness has taught me about the nitty-gritty of struggling with chronic illness, the gross and empowering things that medical textbooks won't teach you.

Here are some of those lessons that I — and many who have struggled with chronic illnesses — have learned during the journey.

1. My weight doesn’t define me.

Weight dominates women’s magazines. And every day, we’re given information about weighing too much or too little and which bodies are real and which aren’t.

You know what body is real? Yours.

When I found out I had PCOS, I trained for a half marathon, started doing yoga, and changed my diet, thinking that I could slim down to the dream image of my body I had in my head.

Ultimately, I lost a total of five pounds in one year. It was underwhelming, but I felt better than I’d felt during most of my young adult life during that year. My body, while large, gets me to work every day, runs half marathons in different cities, and does some pretty cool things in between. I’ve learned to be grateful for it, at all of its various shapes and sizes.

2. Just because it makes others uncomfortable, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t discuss it.

A lot of people don’t know about PCOS, and most of them don’t want to know more.

PCOS looks pretty different for everyone, but some commonly involved are weight gain, depression, body hair, and infertility. And those aren’t exactly pleasant. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of science out there on how to properly address PCOS just yet, leading to it being commonly misdiagnosed.

When I tried talking about my disease publicly, people were disgusted by it, and I also felt like they didn’t understand how a syndrome like mine could change my life so much. But here’s the thing:

When I talked about PCOS with friends who I trusted, I was more relieved and encouraged. Allowing the people I loved to help me through my health issues made a huge difference, and I’m better for it.

3. I don't need to be a doormat for terrible dates.

I grew up being told that I was intelligent and beautiful (because encouraging parents rock), but PCOS took a bit of a toll on my confidence when it came to dating. And sometimes, when I was getting used to my syndrome, I let society’s standards of worth dictate how I responded to romantic partners.

If someone indicated they were attracted to me, I felt like I had to be grateful for their interest. In turn, I became a doormat for terrible dates, and I accepted the love I thought I deserved because I thought I should be happy with what I got.

I learned quickly, though, that this couldn’t be further from the truth. But it took some heartache, self-reflection, and real talk from friends and family to get there.

4. Infertility is a big issue, but there are options.

I know, I know. Infertility probably isn't something a normal 18-year-old thinks about. But I've always known that I wanted a family of my own one day.

The great thing is there are plenty of resources, scientific breakthroughs, and support systems for people who struggle with infertility. Over the years, I have slowly found other women with PCOS who want to have kids. They are finding their own ways forward, whether that's through medicine, adoption, or in vitro fertilization.

There are options. There are almost always options. You just have to look.

5. Depression does not own me.

Depression is a common symptom of PCOS, and there are days when it's incredibly hard for me to get out of bed.

There are times, all too often, when my life seems amazing on the surface, but I’m crumbling inside. But here’s the thing I've learned: I have power.

I have the power to do things I know will improve my mood, like running, spending time with friends, and going to therapy. I've slowly learned (and am still learning!) the importance of self-care and the reality that self-care looks different for everyone.

Having power doesn’t mean there won’t be difficult days, but it does mean that eventually, I can get through my issues.

6. I enjoy food, and I should keep on enjoying it.

I’m a southern-raised American. I love good food. Like shrimp and grits, and spaghetti, and gelato! I still enjoy all those things and more. Unfortunately, PCOS isn’t exactly a fan of those foods or of carbs or sugar in general.

So while I indulge every now and then, I also focus on balance, and on keeping things in moderation. It keeps my hormones — and my taste buds — pretty happy.

7. I am not PCOS.

I have a syndrome. A frustrating syndrome. A highly under-researched syndrome. I have trouble losing weight, I have facial hair, and I struggle with depression daily.

But I am still not that syndrome.

I’m a writer, a reader, a runner, a traveler, and a Harry Potter fanatic. I am a multilayered person who laughs and drinks and has fun. I sometimes talk too much, put my foot in my mouth, and make really goofy mistakes.

I do all those things because I'm Kayla, not PCOS. And that is the most valuable lesson of all.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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