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Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

At first blush, LaTia Bell is just like any other high school senior.

She likes school, especially science, and keeps her grades up with college applications just around the corner. She just started playing tennis, and in her free time, she likes to read books and learn about sharks — her favorite animal. Like most other students in the U.S., the pressure is on to keep up, stand out, and excel as competition to gain college admission continues to grow more fierce.

What you can't see is that LaTia, despite all of her work ethic and enthusiasm, is chronically fatigued all the time.


When it's cold — and even sometimes when it's not — her entire body is wracked with pain. She misses weeks of school at a time in the hospital. Even though she strives to be like any other girl, LaTia's sickle cell disease prevents that from being possible.

All photos courtesy of LaTia Bell, used with permission.

Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that can, to put it bluntly, make life hellish.

“It seems I always get sick around the most important dates,” LaTia says, talking about her sickle cell disease like it’s a mischievous imp rather than a painful and difficult disease. “Usually when I’m sick, I miss at least three days of school. So it is really hard.”

Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that prevents a person’s red blood cells from becoming flexible, round, and healthy. Instead, they become rigid and crescent-shaped, unable to carry the amount of oxygen the body needs and dying off much faster than healthy blood cells do.

The result is that chronic fatigue LaTia is constantly faced with, along with other symptoms like intense, frequent pain resulting from a lack of oxygen being delivered to key body parts, causing muscles to seize up. People young and old living with sickle cell disease are also susceptible to strokes and infections and have to take medications that can take even more of a toll on the body.

The symptoms of sickle cell disease make even mundane tasks feel like impossible feats. Last year, LaTia missed weeks of school and more than a few tennis competitions because of her sickle cell crises.

But as a patient at the Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where many young people are taught to manage their sickle cell disease, LaTia has been taught to manage her symptoms. It also helps that she has a lot of optimism and drive to do what she loves.

"I don’t really let it hold me back from my dreams and what I love to do," says LaTia.

In spite of the challenges her disease causes, she has her heart set on studying biochemistry in college — knowing full well that stress is one of the primary factors that can trigger her disease and send her to the hospital.

Regardless, she's choosing to aim high. “I want to be a hematologist and a marine biologist,” she says. "I expect it to be very stressful, but I’m just ready to take it on."

LaTia also hopes that she can use her passion for learning and knowledge to someday help other people like her.

There's no cure for sickle cell disease — only developments in pain treatment that can make the disease easier to manage. But she wants to help find a cure.

"Sickle cell doesn't only affect the patients. It affects the families too," she says. "No one in the family likes to see a child suffering from such a terrible disease."

"I'm doing it for the patients and for the families."

Though her disease is beyond her control, so far, LaTia has been able to do everything she wants — it's just more of a challenge.

Supported by the Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Center, with compassionate care and patient education and counseling, she has been able to chase her dreams with confidence.

Heading into her future, she's confident in her ability to keep on accomplishing. "I feel invincible," she says.

Ultimately, she hopes that finding a cure is within her reach. "I do a lot of spreading awareness through social media and things," she says. "I want people to be aware of sickle cell and maybe help make a change."

One thing she's certain of is that she'll be one of the people helping make that change, regardless of the obstacles in her way. "Sickle cell has made me feel down a lot, but you can overcome anything," she says. "That's what I've learned — that anything can be overcome."

To learn more about sickle cell disease or the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, visit choa.org/fightsicklecell.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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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.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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