These twins share almost everything — except a common gene mutation.
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Cigna 2017

The first thing you notice when you see twin sisters Carrie and Erica together are their smiles.

They’re big and welcoming, crinkling the corners of their eyes in exactly the same way.

Yet there's one big difference between Carrie and Erica. Carrie has the BRCA gene mutation. Erica doesn’t.


If you don’t know — don't feel bad because lots of people don't — a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene is one of the most common indicators that a person will get breast or ovarian cancer in their lifetime.

Watch Carrie and Erica's inspiring story below:

Her twin sister wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the preventive steps she took.

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, June 29, 2017

"We have had a substantial family history of breast and ovarian cancers," Carrie says.  And when the sisters found out that their mom had the BRCA gene, they both decided to get tested for it too.

"I was positive and she was negative," says Carrie.

For Erica, relief at her diagnosis was short-lived. "I was also sad and nervous and upset that the two women closest to me, my mom and my sister, both had it."

Rather than worry, Carrie immediately went to work.

Together with her care providers, she arranged for mammograms and MRIs to test for breast cancer every six months, along with blood tests for ovarian cancer.

For a while, all the tests came back fine. Then, one routine MRI revealed some abnormal cells. Carrie had a biopsy to be sure, but the results were conclusive: cancer cells.

Like hundreds of thousands of other women, Carrie began cancer treatment — and she did it with her sister at her side.

"I started chemotherapy," she says. "Lost my hair, lost my appetite, lost a good sense of myself. But, you can come out the other side."

Erica and Carrie. Image via Cigna.

"Without preventive care, I probably would not be here today," she says, her voice breaking. "That's the truth."

Along with knowing her genetics, early detection helped save Carrie’s life. Now she’s not taking anything for granted.

"This could happen to anybody, no matter what age you are," she says. "I would highly suggest people go in to have regular doctor visits and to know your numbers so that you can take control of your health and your life."

Keeping an eye on your health numbers — blood pressure, blood sugar, BMI and cholesterol — can help you spot potential health problems early.

Erica agrees. "Going to the doctor is not the most comfortable thing and mammograms are not that comfortable, but I think Carrie has shown people what’s good about going to the doctor and finding out early."

As Carrie thinks about her future, she’s excited about what it holds. "I'm looking forward to having a family one day, traveling the world, and being more of a participant in this crazy, awesome life."

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

CNN reporter Anna Stewart getting goosed by a turkey.

When your job has you standing in the middle of a huddled-up flock of hundreds of turkeys, you already know to expect the unexpected. But for CNN's Anna Stewart, the unexpected also turned out to be hilarious—in more ways than one.

As she was reporting from the KellyBronze turkey farm in Essex, England, Stewart found herself the literal butt of a turkey joke, and goodness did they find it funny. Stewart shared an outtake scene from a CNN segment on U.K. worker shortages and supply chain issues on Twitter, with the comment "Turns out what turkeys REALLY like is a good laugh, at my expense."

Seriously, you'll want the sound up for this:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."