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Through a historic storm and a global pandemic, this nurse embraces the true meaning of “Iowa nice”
Courtesy of CeraVe
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From the time she was a little girl, Abby Recker loved helping people. Her parents kept her stocked up with first-aid supplies so she could spend hours playing with her dolls, making up stories of ballet injuries and carefully wrapping “broken” arms and legs.

Recker fondly describes her hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as a simple place where people are kind to one another. There’s even a term for it—“Iowa nice”—describing an overall sense of agreeableness and emotional trust shown by people who are otherwise strangers.

Abby | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVewww.youtube.com

Driven by passion and the encouragement of her parents, Recker attended nursing school, graduating just one year before the unthinkable happened: a global pandemic. One year into her career as an emergency and labor and delivery nurse, everything she thought she knew about the medical field got turned upside down. That period of time was tough on everyone, and Nurse Recker was no exception.


“You had patients that were here one minute and gone the next and the emotional impact took a toll, but we stuck together,” said Nurse Recker. She and her unit eventually found their footing and learned how to work as a team to adapt to the overwhelming influx of COVID-19 patients. Right as they got into a groove, on August 10, 2020, with nearly no time to prepare, a historic “derecho” storm hit the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Courtesy of CeraVe

A derecho packs fast-moving gusts, but instead of spiraling like a tornado or hurricane, the winds of a derecho move in straight lines. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the storm caused $7.5 billion in damage across South Dakota and Ohio, ranking it as the costliest thunderstorm in U.S. history. Every single Cedar Rapids resident was impacted.

“During the spring we tend to have lots of storms, so we’re used to tornados and other types of bad weather, but nothing like a derecho. I don’t think anyone in Iowa had even heard of a derecho until that August day,” said Nurse Recker. “After the storm hit, we were all trying to figure out what had happened; we didn’t even know there was a name for a storm like that!”

Suddenly, the hospital was filled with people experiencing storm-related injuries. The emergency room was packed, as people who depend on electricity to run their oxygen tanks or dialysis machines were pouring in with nowhere else to go. Just as they had done when the pandemic hit several months before, Nurse Recker and her team pulled together, working back-to-back 12-hour shifts and running on adrenaline.

It occurred to Nurse Recker in the middle of this chaos that she might not have a home to go back to. Instead of panicking, she focused on the people in front of her, putting their immediate needs above her own. It wasn’t until she got into her car to leave the hospital that she took the time to absorb the devastation. A tree had fallen, narrowly missing her car, and was wedged under her front bumper. To this day, she still doesn’t understand how her vehicle wasn’t completely crushed.

This ability to persevere under extreme pressure is what makes nurses so amazing at what they do. CeraVe’s ongoing commitment to the nursing community seeks to recognize inspiring healthcare workers such as Nurse Recker through Heroes Behind the Masks Chapter 2: A Walk In Our Shoes, a campaign featuring inspiring nurses from across the nation.

“Nurses share in some of the most joyful moments of a patient’s life but are also witness to some of the toughest moments, which can be a taxing part of their jobs that often goes unrecognized,” said Jaclyn Marrone, vice president of marketing for CeraVe. “To express our sincerest gratitude, we’re honored—to provide a platform for these incredible stories to be told, inspiring both the nursing community and beyond.”

Nurse Recker says that while sometimes there are situations where there isn’t a good solution and there’s no way to predict the future, she feels good knowing that there are people who have her back.

“I am fortunate enough to work at a job I love and am passionate about. When you love what you do and get to see the positive impact you have on people, it’s hard to be negative. Looking at what I get to do for people each and every day and how I get to impact their lives in a positive way makes it all worth it,” said Nurse Recker. “We know when people are coming to the hospital they are not at their best but the most important thing we can do is just be kind. A smile and thank you go a long way.”

Follow along in the coming days for more uplifting stories brought to you by CeraVe.

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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