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People in her neighborhood know Pat as the woman who always has a flower in her hair and a warm smile on her face.

More often than not, you can find her walking around her local building complex for low-income seniors in Washington, D.C. laden with supplies for them.

"She’s had a huge impact on the seniors in her community," says the manager of the complex. "She just wants to help people."


But Pat isn't the only one offering her services to low-income seniors. She's part of a nonprofit called Sarah's Circle, which assists low-income senior women (as well as homeless women and those seeking refuge) who might be having a hard time making ends meet.

Pat and Ms Gamble, one of the seniors she helps out. All photos via Upworthy.

"I try to help as many seniors as I can because I know it’s very necessary," explains Pat. "It’s very difficult when your income is very low, and you have to stretch it for food, medicines, and transportation."

So she has a daily routine of going around to seniors in her community and asking if she can any run errands for them. Just by doing that, she's developed special relationships with many.

"For the last five or six years or so, she’s been bringing me books from the library, and we’ve had a strong bond ever since then," says Ms. Gamble, one of the seniors Pat helps.

She's so much more than just a nice woman who runs errands — to some, she's become as important as family.

"Without her, I don’t know what I'd do," says Martha. "She’s just like a daughter to me. She’ll do anything for anybody. If you’re down, she’ll perk you up."

Martha (left) and Pat (right).

The unfortunate reality is elderly people often continue to deteriorate over time, mentally and physically. And if they're living on a scant budget, it can become harder and harder to afford necessities, like medications and healthy food. They may also need assistance just to get simple, daily chores done, and if they're not quite ready for an aide, or at least not a full-time one, it can leave them at a major disadvantage when they're on their own.

Pat and other volunteers like her at Sarah's Circle do what they can to help fill in the gaps, and advocate for seniors when they can't.

“We need people speaking out for seniors who are only trying to live just like everyone else," says Pat.

But it's less about a greater agenda for Pat — she mostly just wants to brighten peoples' days, and help them keep moving forward. That's what being kind means to her — giving a bit of yourself to others to make their lives a bit better.

It's really the best advice anyone could offer.

"Try to put a smile on someone’s face everyday."

Learn more about Pat and Sarah's Circle in the video below:

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.

Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash

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