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."

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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