To fight the stigma of mental illness during and after pregnancy, these 7 women got very real.

1 in 7 moms deals with postpartum depression or another perinatal mood disorder.

That's a lot of women who are facing a serious situation, many of them in silence and without help, because there's a stigma attached to this type of illness.

Now, these women want to show us the faces of everyday moms with the condition.

Seven real women, all of whom survived or are currently being treated for PPD or other perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, opened up about their experiences in a video so that we can keep talking about the fairly common condition. (You can scroll to the end to watch it — it's worth your two minutes.)


Photo collage created from video by Jill Williams Krause of Baby Rabies.

Here are some of the very real and honest feelings they shared:

"Just the sounds of crying, it really started to get to me."

"And my stomach always felt like when you miss a step when you're going down the stairs and your stomach jumps. That's how I felt all the time."

"I really wanted to act out this anger on inanimate objects around my husband. And it was such a weird feeling."

"I found myself just getting fixated on certain things, extreme worry about his health."

"I felt like I could finally ... I would be able to rest if I would die."







What is postpartum depression, anyway?

Some women experience "baby blues" after giving birth. Those last for a few days or a few weeks tops and pass. According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms include the following: mood swings, sadness, anxiety, crying, irritability, trouble sleeping, and decreased concentration.

Postpartum depression is something else. It is one of the most common perinatal mood disorders, which can occur during or up to one year after pregnancy.


Photo by Thinkstock.

Mayo Clinic notes that "postpartum depression may appear to be the baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms of PPD are more intense and longer lasting, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks." They list the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Lack of joy in life
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy
  • Severe mood swings
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

(For a list and explanations in "plain mama English," you can visit Postpartum Progress.)

Without treatment, PPD can last months — or longer — and interfere with your ability to bond with your baby (which can cause problems for your child later in life) and even turn into a chronic depressive disorder that extends well beyond your postpartum months.

I spoke to Jill Williams Krause of Baby Rabies, the woman behind this video, to learn more about barriers to seeking help.

"I experienced postpartum anxiety and OCD, which are two diagnoses I didn't even know existed until I read about them on Postpartum Progress," she shared. "I read it when my second was about 8 months old and, for the very first time, realized that I wasn't a 'bad' mom. I was sick."


Photo courtesy of Jill Williams Krause of Baby Rabies.

Why aren't more moms getting help? Well, for one, some "simply don't understand that it's not just feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts," Jill said. "They breeze through the six-week checkup not realizing that the obsessions, the visions, the panic are all things that they can get help for. Also, many moms are told they will get better with time."

Additionally, Jill says some moms "worry if they express that it's anything worse than a lack of sleep, they will lose their children."

Another barrier to reaching out for help is the way we've been presented with extreme stories of PPD in the media. "In many cases, their only exposure to a mom who has dealt with this is via a horrific news story. They don't want to be associated with that," Jill explained. Think: Cases where women tried to kill their babies (or actually succeeded).

But those cases are few and far between. We really need to focus on all the moms who are fighting this alone and silently — who can get better with help.

Because getting help matters so much.

Photo by Jill Williams Krause of Baby Rabies.

Here's what the women had to say about their lives after treatment.

"I started feeling like myself again, and I could tell that for six months, I had felt like a completely different person."

"I mean, it was really a moment where I felt like I'm kind of me again."

"I was doing things with the kids more. I wasn't over-analyzing every bad thing that could happen. And I wasn't crying as much."

"You will get better. You will feel better. You feel right now like you're going to feel like this for the rest of your life, but it does get better."





Watch these women talk about their experiences.

"The seven women in this video are each in various stages of recovery from various perinatal mood and anxiety disorders," Jill explained.

"We want women who are struggling to see this and hopefully see themselves, their struggle in another mom who is healing or who has come through the other side. We want them to see the photos of loving moms with happy babies and know that 'good' moms deal with this stuff. That they are good moms, too."

via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart made Stephen Colbert and his audience uncomfortable on the "Late Show" Monday night when he went on a rant about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stewart believes the virus probably came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, instead of the once near universally accepted belief that it emerged from wet markets in the area.

"Science has, in many ways, helped ease the suffering of this pandemic … which was more than likely caused by science," he said to nervous laughter.

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via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart made Stephen Colbert and his audience uncomfortable on the "Late Show" Monday night when he went on a rant about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stewart believes the virus probably came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, instead of the once near universally accepted belief that it emerged from wet markets in the area.

"Science has, in many ways, helped ease the suffering of this pandemic … which was more than likely caused by science," he said to nervous laughter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."