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You probably wouldn't guess this college freshman has sickle cell disease.

She went through a lot as a kid, but now she's finally coming out strong.

You probably wouldn't guess this college freshman has sickle cell disease.
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Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Taylor Delk just started college in Atlanta, and she can't wait to get into dating for the first time.

However, she has one major concern: when and how should she tell the boys she likes that she has a serious disease?

All photos via Taylor Delk.


Taylor has sickle cell disease — a genetic disorder that affects the health of red blood cells and can cause extreme pain, tissue damage, impaired fertility, strokes, and even early death. She has type SS, which occurs when you inherit copies of the hemoglobin S gene from both parents. It's the most common form of the disease and also the hardest on the body. It means she can experience the worst symptoms like regular fatigue, joint pain, anemia and infections at a higher rate.  

But perhaps the hardest aspect of her disease is that you can't tell she has it just by looking at her.

"It’s always hard to open up to people [about the disease] at first," Taylor says. "Sometimes I would feel embarrassed, because it’s not normal, really."  

While she's always had sickle cell disease, that doesn't make talking about it any easier.

As a young kid, she got very sick all the time, which often required regular trips to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. A couple of times she even had acute chest syndrome, which is a severe side effect of sickle cell disease that causes intense chest pain and can be life-threatening.

Needless to say, she missed a lot of school.

She was usually open with her close friends about her condition, but other kids at school would occasionally question her about her illness because they couldn't see any evidence of it.

Taylor (second from the left) with her fellow varsity cheerleaders.

"I remember when I was younger, my peers would be like, 'Well you don’t look sick,'" Taylor recalls.

She'd find herself having to say things like, "I’m not sick right now, but, you know, I am. My body is not the same as yours."

For example, she can experience pain spikes that start at a 4 on the pain scale and suddenly jump to a 9, but they don't always show on her face.

The disease ramped up during her adolescence, likely because her body was growing and changing rapidly. However, once she reached her senior year, her symptoms began to mellow out. But that doesn't mean she can't still have a pain crisis anytime anywhere.

She's learned to cope with the effects because of her amazing support system, starring her mom.

Taylor at prom.

"My mom never leaves the hospital," Taylor says. "She never leaves me by myself." Her extended family also checks in with her on the regular and even stays to help out for days at a time during Taylor's more severe episodes.

Her mom also constantly encourages her to talk candidly about her disease, which should help her as she makes her way through college.

"My mom made me tell people," Taylor recalls. "I think she wanted me to be comfortable with myself."

The encouragement seems to have helped. Taylor now finds it much easier to be open about it, even with people she doesn't know as well. She realizes people need to know in case she finds herself in a crisis without her family nearby.

They also need to know so that future generations of people with sickle cell disease don't feel like they have to hide it.

Even though her symptoms have settled, Taylor's still talking about sickle cell disease, not just for herself, but for everyone.

Taylor at the airport with her friend Alexis.

Especially her little sister, who also has sickle cell disease.

Taylor's sister Trinity is 11 years old and has the same type of sickle cell disease Taylor has, but so far, her case seems to be less severe. However, that hasn't stopped Taylor from being a good big sister — aka pestering Trinity to take care of herself.

She constantly tells Trinity to drink water and gives her tips for coping with pain crises, like take a walk, use heat pads, listen to music, and talk to someone to distract yourself.  

And most importantly, she encourages Trinity to be open about her disease so she grows up without any shame.

Now that Taylor's on the precipice of a new adventure, she plans to live life to the fullest, sickle cell disease be damned.

Taylor at high school graduation.

Yes, that means making new friends and meeting boys, but it also means starting out on a path towards an exciting career. She's taking pre-law classes and plans to become a lawyer, which is not a stress-free field. And even though stress has been known to exacerbate symptoms, Taylor's not shying away from her dream.  

She's also trying not to shy away from talking about her disease with new people. She knows the more who understand it, the less alone people who have it will feel. Caregivers at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center know that too, which is why they offer counseling and support groups for children living with sickle cell disease as well as their parents.

And who knows, that candidness could lead to an amazing new relationship.

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

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande duked it out on Jimmy Fallon's 'The Tonight Show.'

There are pop stars, and then there are singers. While recording studio technology can make people sound like amazing singers, the proof is in their live performances.

Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande took it a whole step further on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," delivering not only a jaw-dropping live performance but doing so in the form of revolving pop diva hits in an "impossible karaoke" showdown. In less than five minutes, they showed off their combined ability to nail pretty much anything, from imitating iconic singers' styles to belting out well-known songs with their own vocal stylings.

Watch this and try not to be impressed:

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via © Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021 and © Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Two of the winners of the Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

A few weeks ago, Upworthy shared the hilarious winners of the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards and the winner was a well-timed shot of a monkey who appears to have hurt the family jewels on a suspension wire. (Don't worry folks, no monkeys were harmed for the awards.)

The awards were created six years ago by Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks to promote positive awareness of animal welfare issues. The competition has been so successful, the duo decided to branch out and create the Comedy Pet Photo Awards, where photographers can submit pictures of their furry friends for a £2,000 ($2650) prize.

Donations generated by the competition go to Animal Support Angels, an animal welfare charity in the UK.

This year's winner is Zoe Ross for "Whizz Pop," a photo of her labrador puppy Pepper who appears to be tooting bubbles.

“We never ever thought that we would win but entered the competition because we loved the idea of helping a charity just by sending in a funny photo of Pepper," Ross said in a statement. "She is such a little monkey, and very proud of herself, bringing in items from the garden and parading past you until you notice her. She is the happiest puppy we’ve ever known and completely loved to pieces.”

Here are the rest of the winners of the 2021 Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

Overall Winner: Zoe Ross "Whizz Pop," Penkridge, UK

© Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Did this puppy swallow a bubble?

Best Dog Category: Carmen Cromer "Jurassic Bark," Pittsboro, North Carolina

© Carmen Cromer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"My golden retriever, Clementine, loves to stick her face in front of the hose while I water the plants. Her expression in this photo made me think of a tyrannosaurus rex, hence the title, "Jurassic Bark." Duh nuh nuuuh nuhnuh, duh nuh nuuuh nuh nuh, dun duh duuuh nuh nuh nuh nUUUUUUhhhh," Carmen Cromer.

Best Cat Category: Kathrynn Trott "Photobomb," Ystradgynlais, UK

© Kathrynn Trott/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Jeff stealing the limelight from his brother Jaffa.

Best Horse Category: Mary Ellis, "I said 'Good Morning," Platte River State Park, Nebraska

© Mary Ellis/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I like to visit the stable horses before I begin my hike at the State Park. This is the reply I received when I said 'Good morning,'" Mary Ellis.

All Other Creatures Category: Sophie Bonnefoi, "The Eureka Moment," Oxford, UK

© Sophie Bonnefoi/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Cutie and Speedy are two chicks hatched from eggs placed in an incubator at home in August 2020. They spent their first few weeks indoors. In the photo, they are just over two weeks old. They were curious about everything. This is the day they discovered their own shadow. It was hilarious to see them wondering and exploring that 'dark thing' that was moving with them!" Sophie Bonnefoi.

Junior Category: Suzi Lonergan, "Sit!" Pacific Palisades, California

© Suzi Lonergan/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Our granddaughter gave the command to sit. Beau is very obedient," Suzi Lonergan.

Pets Who Look Like Their Owners Category: Jakub Gojda, "That Was a Good One!" Czech Republic

© Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This photo was taken by accident during the photography of my ex-girlfriend with her beloved mare. For this cheerful moment, I thank the fly that sat on the horse's nose and he instinctively shook his head," Jakub Gojda.

Highly Commended: Chloe Beck, "Hugo the Photobomber," Walsall, UK

© Chloe Beck/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is my best friend Faith, her husband Alex, and their cheeky Sproodle, Hugo. Faith wanted a photograph to mark a special occasion—her first outing after shielding at home for 14 months. Hugo jumped into the frame at just the right moment!" Chloe Beck.

Highly Commended: Luke O'Brien, "Mumford and Chum," Coventry, UK

© Luke O'Brien/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"Losing the opportunity to play with my human bandmates during lockdown, Flint, my rescue dog, soon taught me that we didn't just have sharp bones in common, but musical ones, too. He soon became the perfect substitute for a collaborative stomp up at home, so much so that we felt we deserved our own band name (Muttford and Chum). With my camera set up remotely during this shoot, I think it's fair to say that the image is proof that his conviction as a performer matches my own," Luke O'Brien.

Highly Commended: Kathryn Clark, "Wine Time," Clichester, UK

© Kathryn Clark/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"It's that time of day again! Little Blue enjoys it almost as much as me," Kathryn Clark.

Highly Commended: Diana Jill Mehner, "Crazy in Love with Fall," Paderborn, Germany

© Diana Jill Mehner/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

This is Leia. As you can see, she definitely loves playing with all the leaves in autumn. It was really tricky to take this picture because you never know what the dog is going to do next," Diana Jill Mehner.

Highly Commended: Christine Johnson, "Boing," Crosby Beach, UK

© Christine Johnson/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I was busy playing with my dog on the beach and this dog came to play. I liked the shapes he was making in the air," Christine Johnson

Highly Commended: Manel Subirats Ferrer, "Ostrich Style," Platja del Prat de Llobregat, Spain

© Manel Subirats Ferrer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Nuka playing hide and seek at the beach.

Highly Commended: Colin Doyle, "Nosey Nieghbor," Bromsgrove, UK

© Colin Doyle/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"According to Ozzy, we need a new fence panel ASAP. He is fed up with Chester our nosy next door neighbor spying on him every time he has a meal," Colin Doyle.

Highly Commended: Corey Seeman, "A Warm Spot on a Cold Day," Michigan

© Corey Seeman/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Two of the morning regulars at the dog park are Gary (hound mix with the jacket) and Kona, one of the most chill dogs ever," Corey Seeman.

Highly Commended: Lucy Slater, "So What?" San Diego, California

© Lucy Slater/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is how I like to sit!" Vincent the cat.

Highly Commended: Mollie Cheary, "Photobomb," Poole, UK

© Mollie Cheary/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Bailey was so excited to see her friends, she couldn't sit still for a photo!" Mollie Cheary.

via PixaBay and PixaBay

A cat sitting funny and a happy pug.

When my old dog Murray really wanted to tell me something and his barking or pawing didn’t get the job done, he would start making sounds that I swear mimicked human speech. Now, I’m not entirely sure that he was attempting to get through to me as a member of my own species would, but I don’t know how else to explain this quirky behavior.

It’s pretty amazing when we see our pets cross the imaginary line that separates the species by exhibiting human-like behaviors. But if you were to try to explain them to someone who’s never had a dog or cat (or parrot you will soon see) most of them would probably just shrug it off.

So, I never really talked to anyone about my dog’s strange but funny human impersonation.

Reddit user DMLorance created a safe space for pet owners to share their stories that no one believes on the AskReddit subforum.

“Pet owners of Reddit. What quirk does your pet (past or present) do that nobody believes when you tell them?”

Here are 16 of the best responses.


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