Watch Zendaya’s powerful Teen Choice speech in the wake of Charlottesville.

About 2,500 miles stood between the bright lights of Hollywood and the flickering candles at vigils in Charlottesville, Virginia, when Zendaya took the stage at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The horrors of the weekend still wore heavy on the hearts of many in attendance, and Zendaya, who has never shied away from speaking her mind, didn't let her moment go to waste.


Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

The 20-year-old star won "Choice Summer Movie Actress" for her role in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and used her acceptance speech to encourage young people to stand up for what's right.

“'Spider-Man' is about a young person," Zendaya began. "And so right now I want to talk to all the young people in the audience."

She continued (emphasis added):

"With all the injustice and the hatred and everything that is happening — not only in the world, but in our country — right now I need for you young people, I need you guys to be educated, I need you to listen, I need you to pay attention, and I need you to go ahead and understand that you have a voice and it is OK to use it when you see something bad happening."

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Zendaya wasn't alone in her call to action. While no one specifically mentioned Charlottesville, a number of Teen Choice attendees alluded to the atrocities that happened there over the weekend and promoted hopeful messages of unity, including "Black-ish's" Yara Shahidi and Fifth-Harmony's Lauren Jauregui.

Their messages were ones Americans needed to hear.

The Teen Choice Awards aired as the country was still reeling from unconscionable acts of bigotry and violence.  

On Aug. 11, horrifying images of hundreds of white nationalists marching on the University of Virginia, burning torches in hand, went viral across Facebook and Twitter.

The following day, a "Unite the Right" conference in Charlottesville turned deadly, as alleged white supremacist James Fields ran over a crowd of protesters in his vehicle, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

President Trump's initial response to the violence and Heyer's death was ... not reassuring.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides," the president said on Aug. 12, doubling down on the idea that "many sides" are to blame. "It's been going on for a long time in our country. ... This has been going on for a long, long time."

Notably, there was no mention of white supremacy or racism in the president's initial remarks, which seemed to equivocate the hatred on display by literal Nazis with the actions of those protesting the alt-right conference.

A slew of leaders on both sides of the aisle were quick to criticize Trump, noting the president didn't go far enough in condemning the overt acts of bigotry, including Senator Marco Rubio, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer.

On Monday morning, Aug. 14, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier quit the president's manufacturing council, siting Trump's weak response to the incidents in Charlottesville. (In true form, Trump quickly bashed Frazier on Twitter.)

Trump followed up with an additional statement hours after Frazier's decision, condemning white supremacy using more forceful language. But in a certain sense, the damage had already been done.

The president's reaction to the horrors in Virginia raises another question: Why not call Heyer's death an act of terrorism?

Several other leaders acknowledged that the murder certainly meets the definition of domestic terrorism; even Trump's own attorney general, Jeff Sessions — who carries his own appalling history of racist views — considers it such.

Why can't the president — who's always been quick to call out terrorism when it comes at the hands of Islamists (read: when it's more politically convenient) — call a spade a spade when it comes to Charlottesville?

Zendaya would really like to know.

The actor and singer ended her speech on Sunday reminding young people that they'll soon have the power to make an even bigger difference in our world.

"You’re the future leaders of the world; we are the future leaders of the world," Zendaya said. "You’re the future presidents, the future senators. And you guys are the ones who are going to make this world better. So I’m just letting you know right now that you are the future, OK? So take that very, very seriously, all right?”

Watch Zendaya's speech at the Teen Choice Awards below:

This article originally appeared on August 27, 2015

Oh, society! We have such a complicated relationship with relationships.

It starts early, with the movies we are plopped in front of as toddlers.

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This article originally appeared on August 27, 2015

Oh, society! We have such a complicated relationship with relationships.

It starts early, with the movies we are plopped in front of as toddlers.

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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."