Dr. Jennifer Ashton opens up about what it’s like to live with anxiety
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Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News' Chief Medical Correspondent, talks to TJ Holmes on about anxiety

Dr. Jennifer Ashton’s anxiety attacks started to happen after she had a severe allergic reaction to a food. “I had a couple of episodes where I thought mistakenly that I had eaten that same food that I was allergic to,” said Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OBGYN. “And even though I was not having any true physical symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, once my mind went there, it was almost like a marble rolling off the edge of a table.”

“I started to feel dizzy. I started to feel chest tightness. My heart was racing. I was short of breath, but objectively, I was not having an allergic reaction,” she said. “And even though I recognized that I was having an anxiety attack, I was unable to stop it.”

Ashton spoke out about her own experience with anxiety during Mental Health Awareness Month to put a spotlight on a condition that is common but not always easily understood.

Anxiety is the feeling evoked when someone experiences fear of something bad happening, and it can lead to avoidance, attacks, excessive worrying or other symptoms. Everyone has anxiety sometimes, but when anxiety becomes overwhelming to the point it consistently interferes with daily life, or in the case of Ashton, prompts anxiety attacks that interfere with daily life, it can be an anxiety disorder, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health (OWH).

“Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime”

Anxiety disorders are so common they affect about 40 million American adults every year, according to OWH.

And women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, a discrepancy not yet completely understood from a medical perspective. Some experts say it may be due, in part, to women’s changing hormones and different responses to stress, and women may report symptoms of anxiety more frequently than men.

The prevalence of anxiety underscores that it is a serious mental health concern and not something to be dismissed by doctors or patients, according to Ashton.

“What I learned from my own experience with anxiety attacks is that I think a stigma occurs in a lot of society with people thinking that it’s not real, or it’s not serious or it’s insignificant because we all know that there’s no actual situation occurring,” she said. “But none of that matters. The physical manifestations, the symptoms that I felt when I experienced these anxiety attacks, were absolutely real.”

Ashton noted the coronavirus pandemic, an anxiety-inducing global event that has now lasted more than one year, should have highlighted for people the importance of taking anxiety seriously and treating it just as one would any other medical condition.

“There was not a week that went by that I didn’t hear from patients that they were experiencing anxiety,” she said. “I think what needs to happen is a very objective assessment, not only of ourselves as individuals, but collectively, and what’s going on in the world, so then you can say, ‘This is not surprising, really … it’s common. It’s understandable.'”

Click here to read the full article on ABC News.

Naomi Campbell Announces a ‘Beautiful Little Blessing’ as the Supermodel Starts Her Journey Into Motherhood
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Naomi Campbell smiling at the camera in front of a black background

By Maiysha Kai, The Root

Naomi Campbell’s career has spanned over three decades and brought the supermodel, activist and philanthropist worldwide acclaim, starring on countless magazine covers and counting world leaders like Mandela among her personal mentors. But just days before her 51st birthday on May 22, Campbell announced what is undoubtedly her greatest achievement yet, posting on Tuesday morning that she is now also a mother.

“A beautiful little blessing has chosen me to be her mother,” Campbell captioned a post on Instagram, accompanied by a picture of her manicured hand cradling two tiny feet peeking out from a sundress. “So [honored] to have this gentle soul in my life there are no words to describe the lifelong bond that I now share with you my angel. There is no greater love,” she added.

Campbell has made no secret of her desire to be a parent, telling ES Magazine in 2016 that she had considered both adoption and having her own biological child.

“I think about having children all the time,” she told the outlet (h/t the Mirror). “But now with the way science is I think I can do it when I want.”

“Asked if she would have the child herself rather than adopt, she replied: ‘Maybe. Maybe… Maybe,’” the Mirror reported.

Campbell has not disclosed the circumstances surrounding her new addition, or her new daughter’s name. Neither mattered to Campbell’s over-10 million followers and many celebrity friends; congratulations continue to pour in as thousands send their well wishes to the new mom.

Click here to read the full article on The Root.

Football Fitness improves balance, muscle strength and bone density in women treated for breast cancer
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Football sitting in the middle of a grass field with an unfocused city skyline behind it

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc, News- Medical/Life Sciences

The University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Rigshospitalet, and the University of Copenhagen have come together to study the effects of Football Fitness on various health parameters and self-rated health following treatment for breast cancer.

The results of the project, called Football Fitness After Breast Cancer (ABC), have now been published in three scientific articles published in international sports medicine, cardiology, and oncology journals.

“The main conclusion is that Football Fitness is an intense and good form of training for women treated for breast cancer, with beneficial effects on balance, muscle strength and bone density,” says Professor Peter Krustrup, Head of Research at SDU’s Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, who has been studying the health effects of football and other sports for more than 15 years.

Twice weekly training sessions for a year
The researchers from SDU and the University Hospitals Centre for Health Research at Rigshospitalet joined with doctors and nurses from the Department of Oncology at Rigshospitalet and researchers at the University of Copenhagen to investigate whether Football Fitness offered twice weekly for 12 months can boost various health parameters in women treated for breast cancer.

The study involved 68 women aged 23 to 74, with an average age of 48, who were randomized 2:1 to a training group (46 participants) and a control group (22 participants). The trial ran for 12 months, during which the training group was offered Football Fitness training sessions twice a week comprising a warm-up, fitness and football drills, and small-sided games of 5v5 and 7v7 using two goals.

At the start of the study and after 6 and 12 months, respectively, health parameters such as fitness, bone and muscle strength, balance, body fat percentage, blood pressure, and cholesterol were measured and the participants completed questionnaires to rate their quality of life and energy in everyday activities.

It was also investigated whether participation in Football Fitness increased the risk of the participants developing chronic swelling (lymphoedema) on the side where they had been treated for breast cancer.

Football Fitness improves balance, strengthens muscle, and counteracts bone weakening
In an article just published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, the researchers show that 12 months of football training, performed on average 0.8 x 1 hour per week, gave the women better balance and greater muscle strength in the legs, while at the same time increasing bone density in the lumbar spine.

The participants who took part in at least one weekly session also achieved an improvement in bone strength in the femur.

“It’s encouraging that even a modest amount of training can produce these improvements because we know that treatment for breast cancer can accelerate the natural age-related loss of bone mass and thereby increase the risk of osteoporosis,” says Jacob Uth, assistant professor, and Ph.D. at University College Copenhagen, who has been the project leader in the study.

“The fact that balance and muscle strength are improved at the same time is a big plus because in the longer term this can reduce the risk of falls and broken bones,” he says.

Everyday activities become easier – but improving fitness requires more training
In another recently published article in the US journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, the researchers show that the intensity is high, corresponding to a heart rate of more than 80% of maximum heart rate for 70% of the time the participants are playing with two goals. But this did not improve the participants’ fitness compared with the participants in the control group over the 12 months of the intervention.

On the other hand, the study showed that, after 6 months of Football Fitness training, the participants reported that health-related problems were less of a barrier to participating in and accomplishing everyday activities.

Click here to read the full article on News- Medical/Life Sciences.

Chrissy Teigen on her ‘gut-wrenching’ year and the stigma surrounding infertility
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Crissy Teigan standing in front of an all blue back drop posting for the camera with her hands in her blue jean pockets

By Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY

While lying in a hospital bed last year, Chrissy Teigen shared near-constant updates to her Instagram account. She showed her 34 million followers the ingredients of her favorite sandwich and described the amount of blood she was losing. Eventually, she shared heartbreaking photos of the moment the couple said goodbye to the child they lost.

Teigen’s fans have come to know what to expect to from her. She opened up to them about undergoing IVF and celebrated with them when she welcomed her children with husband John Legend.

Now, she wants others to join her in speaking more openly about infertility and the toll it takes.

“I feel like the more we’re open about talking about something, the more normalized it becomes,” she tells USA TODAY.

“I’m happy to be the one to be able to yell loudly from the rooftops and talk about my uterus and talk about my everything. If that’s going to make other women feel that they can do it too, then I will be that person and I’m happy to do it.”

Teigen says women often suffer in silence when they are dealing with infertility issues, which prompted her to be frank about her own experiences.

“I didn’t realize what an un-talked about thing it was… The outpouring of love that we got when we shared those photos – honestly, since even Luna and Miles,” she says. “Everybody’s seen every high – and the highs are Luna and Miles – and then every low, and everyone’s been there for us.”

Despite the pain of last year, Teigen says she’s “doing great.”

“I’ve had to let go of so many things, so many really difficult times. Of course, things have been hard for everybody, but for our family especially, you know. We’ve been through the excitement of getting pregnant naturally, and then losing a baby and it’s just been gut-wrenching and crazy,” she says. “But I can honestly say at this time in my life now and after so much healing and therapy and such a community that has rallied around us, I feel really truly good and feeling very at peace.”

She says it was important to her to keep the conversation going.

“I didn’t want to just have my babies after having fertility struggles and then stop talking about it,” she says. “Hearing from other women made me know it was something that needed to be talked about more.”

She adds, “I always thought it was really important to share all of our challenges, and you know all of the good things, but most importantly all of the bad things,” she said. “Because in a year where we are really all in our own minds and bubbles, it can be really hard to understand or see things from an outside perspective.”

Click here to read the full article on USA Today.

Dolly Parton has received her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine
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Dolly Parton getting the moderna covid-19 vaccine from physician.

By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN

Dolly Parton is showing everyone how it’s done by receiving her first Covid-19 vaccination shot.

The country music star got the shot at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville and recorded the whole thing in a video posted to her Twitter account on Tuesday.

The four-minute clip shows Parton sitting in a chair at the facility. She begins by sharing updated lyrics to her hit song “Jolene” to match the occasion.

“Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine,” she sings in the famous tune. “I’m begging of you please don’t hesitate.”

Parton said she wants everyone to get their shot, even if they are afraid.
“I just wanted to encourage everybody because the sooner we get to feeling better the sooner we get back to normal,” Parton said.

The doctor is then called over and they go through the whole process of the vaccination.
“It didn’t take this long to film ‘9 to 5’,” she joked. “I’ve been waiting since December; I’ve been in line.”

Last year, Parton gave a $1 million donation to Covid-19 research, which was partly used to fund Moderna’s then-promising vaccine.

“I did it! I did it!” she squealed when the process was complete.

Read the full article at CNN.

A software developer built a simpler vaccine sign-up website in her state while on maternity leave
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woman sitting at dining table sewing on a sewing machine wearing a mask

Originally posted on CNN

After her mother-in-law had difficulty signing up for a Covid-19 vaccine, a Massachusetts woman created a website to make it easier for her — and she made it easier for everyone.

Olivia Adams built a website that pulls in vaccination appointments from across the state, including government sites as well as ones operated by private businesses. She called it macovidvaccines.com.

Photo Credit: CNN

The 28-year-old software developer from Arlington, Massachusetts, says she spent three weeks and about 40 hours building the website — and she did it while on maternity leave caring for her 2-month-old son, she told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Monday.

“I thought I’d take a look and I was surprised at how decentralized everything was and how there are a thousand different websites to go to,” Adams said. “I thought, ‘How can I put my software skills to use to make this better in my free time?'”

Free time usually happened when her newborn is sleeping, Adams said. She said her 2-year-old son is at day care, so she’s lucky not to be caring for both during the day.

The inspiration came after listening to her mother-in-law, who had a tough time signing up for an appointment. Her mother-in-law is a dental hygienist who qualified for the first phase of vaccinations, she said.

“She had a little trouble figuring out where to go and how to get signed up,” Adams said. “She was able to do it, but it took a little while and then she had the same problem when she was able to sign her father up when he became eligible at the beginning of our phase two.”

Her family isn’t alone in their vaccine sign-up struggles. People across the country, from senior citizens to others in the early vaccine phases, have faced with hours waiting on the phone and logging online to see no spots available.

Adams examined Massachusetts’ online vaccine portal and realized she could make it better for everyone.

She said she is used to making complicated software related to health care needs in her job as a lead member of the technical staff at Athenahealth, a health care technology company.

But, she’s never created a website quite like this.

“This was my first time making a complicated website myself,” she said. “The hardest part about it is that every website that has availability information I have to kind of tell my computer how to read that website like a human. That’s where all the man hours went in.”

The vaccine appointments are available at a number of sites, from those run by the state to those administered at grocery stores and pharmacies. Parsing all that information for each provider is where it got a bit time consuming, she said.

Adams has a script that runs every five minutes across about 20 different vaccine sites, she wrote in an email.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was asked about Adams’ vaccine website at a press conference on Friday. “Send us her name, we’ll talk to her,” Baker said Friday.

Read the complete article here.

COVID-19 Economic Benefits how-to Guide
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woman sitting at table filling out a medical form

As more Americans with and without disabilities are caught up in the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are wondering where to find answers to life-or-death questions.

What do I do if I’m a person with a disability and lost my job because of COVID-19?

You are not alone. A monthly report published by the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (UNH-IOD), shows that nearly one million working-age people with disabilities lost their jobs. That represents a 20 percent reduction of the number of workers with disabilities in our nation’s economy. There is a significant question whether those jobs will ever come back.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) website has a comprehensive run-down on what you as an individual with or without disabilities needs to know about accessing unemployment benefits if you are an eligible worker.

Unemployment insurance (UI) is a joint state-federal program that specifically helps workers who have lost their jobs. With more than 22 million workers now out of their jobs, UI is more important than ever before.

How do I know if I am eligible?

Each state has its own guideline around who does or does not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. Generally speaking, if:

  • You lost your job through no fault of your own or you were separated due to a lack of available work.
  • You also meet specific work and wage requirements.

Then you should qualify for unemployment benefits. However, beyond those basic guidelines, each state has different rules in terms of wages earned and time worked. To find out what your state requirements and guidelines are, visit careeronestop.org.

FYI: It generally takes two to three weeks after you file your claim to receive your first benefit check.

What about COVID-19 specific unemployment resources?

In response to the pandemic, DOL issued new guidance to address COVID-19 in the workplace and different scenarios involving workers at risk of losing their jobs because of the virus. You can read that guidance online at dol.gov.

Who can I talk to for more details?

The DOL’s toll-free call center can assist workers and employers with questions about job loss, layoffs, business closures, unemployment benefits and job training: 1-877-US-2JOBS (TTY: 1-877-889-5627).

What other resources does DOL offer?

DOL maintains a dedicated page for job seekers and unemployed workers looking to access the workforce system. That page includes specific information about finding new job training opportunities as well as disability-specific resources.

What if I’m on SSI or SSDI, but I lost my part-time job? Can I claim unemployment?

The answer really depends on whether you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

For people receiving SSDI, unemployment income is counted as unearned income and DOES NOT count towards the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit. This means that people who receive SSDI, but had been working part-time, can claim unemployment without worrying about the usual income limit.

SSI is different from SSDI, but unemployment income also counts as unearned income for SSI. However, SSI benefits may be offset by the amount of unemployment received. SSI has a strict $2,000 asset limit. If SSI recipients receive benefits that would push them over the asset limits, they should consider spending those funds right away to purchase needed supplies.

If a person with a disability had been working but lost their job because of COVID-19, they will need to apply for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

The Arc has a great website with lots of details on navigating unemployment as a person with a disability at thearc.org.

What about accessing food benefits?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal nutrition assistance program. SNAP provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families via an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. This card can be used like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) runs the SNAP program and maintains a great website about SNAP eligibility at fns.usda.gov.

While SNAP is a federal program, like most benefits, it is run by state agencies. To find out about your home state’s rules on SNAP benefits, visit fns.usda.gov/snap/.

Before the pandemic, 11 million people with disabilities depended on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) nutrition benefits to put food on the table. That number has increased significantly as people with and without disabilities have lost their jobs and hungry children have lost food access with school closures. In response, more states are seeking a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow SNAP recipients to use their benefits for online grocery deliveries. Learn more at RespectAbility.org.

What about food benefits for women and children?

The USDA also runs the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to help low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five at fns.usda.gov/wic.

Like most benefit programs, WIC has strict eligibility requirements that specifically limit the pool of people who can make use of these resources. To determine your eligibility for WIC, visit: fns.usda.gov/wic/wic-eligibility.

How do I order food online for delivery?

To limit their risk of exposure to the virus, many people with and without disabilities have opted to switch entirely to online grocery deliveries. Unfortunately for many people with disabilities, this is an inaccessible or unavailable option.

Popular options for online grocery deliveries include Instacart, Amazon and Walmart. In 35 states, people with disabilities now can or will soon be able use their SNAP benefits for online grocery deliveries. However, there are still states that have taken no action to help millions of people with disabilities put food on the table. RespectAbility and other disability organizations such as the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) are actively working to solve this and other critical, COVID related economic challenges.

What about delivery fees?

Unfortunately, even if you are in a state that has joined the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, you will need to cover the cost of delivery fees.

What federal agencies or programs are providing information to help people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has been leading disability related efforts to respond to COVID-19. They have a great website that has information for aging and disability programs, as well as videos in American Sign Language (ASL) and Spanish language materials.

ACL has distributed information to its grantees in every state about preventing exposure to the virus, tips for dealing with social isolation, technology resources, as well as guidance for programs that are directly helping people with disabilities deal with COVID-19.

Visit their extensive website with resources and information at acl.gov/COVID-19.

What about Veterans with Disabilities?

Like ACL and DOL, the Department of Veterans affairs has created an extensive website to cover VA specific issues in the COVID-19 pandemic. You can use the website to read the latest about COVID-19, make appointments or access other benefits/services: va.gov/coronavirus-veteran-frequently-asked-questions.

If you are not yet connected to a Veterans Service Organization (VSO), why not connect with one now via the internet? For example, you could connect with Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) pva.org/find-support, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) dav.org or Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) iava.org.

What do I do if I am at-risk of COVID-19 and have roommates or live in a group home and people are not practicing social distancing or taking precautions?

This is a serious matter and your safety needs to come first. Consider preparing a script of what you want to say before saying it. Remember to be respectful of everyone’s emotional needs but firm about your own health and safety.

Have a conversation with your roommate about documenting when and if people are coming. That way you can tell public health authorities if either of you comes down sick.

This great article from TODAY has more ideas on how to handle this delicate issue: https://www.today.com/health/social-distancing-how-talk-those-who-aren-t-doing-it.

For more resources and updates from RespectAbility about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the one-in-five people who live with a disability, please visit: RespectAbility.org/covid-19.

Selma Blair: A Beacon of Bravery
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Honoree Selma Blair speaks onstage during the 26th annual Race to Erase MS in Beverly Hills

By Jaeson “Doc” Parsons & Samar Khoury

It began in 2011. Selma Blair didn’t know where it all came from—the overwhelming fatigue, anxiety, depression, neck pain, and severe vertigo.

She didn’t understand why that after she’d drop her son, Arthur, off at school, she was so exhausted that she had to get back into bed. She was puzzled by the sudden loss of feeling in her leg.

Selma would go to doctors seeking answers, but they dismissed her symptoms, believing her exhaustion and fatigue were the result of her becoming a new mother. As the constant pain continued, Selma began to self-medicate to dull the pain.

“When I first suspected that something wasn’t right with my health, with my brain, was when I was pregnant with Arthur,” Selma shared with DIVERSEability Magazine. “I really knew something was wrong when I ran into a UPS truck…literally. I mean, I just skimmed it, but I realized my perception was really off. That’s when I went to the eye doctor thinking it was just my eyes, but it was a perception coordination thing. I’d felt exhausted for years, but it really reached a point that I couldn’t deny it when I was first pregnant with Arthur, and certainly right after his birth.”

It wasn’t until 2018, when she was filming the movie After, that Selma finally got answers.

“When I was in Atlanta the first time shooting the beginning of the film, I had extreme vertigo on steps; I was walking with Josephine Langford down some steps, and I was like, ‘whoa, something’s really happening.’ I couldn’t feel my left leg or my right side and was having difficulty writing and texting, so I sent my manager a video telling him that something very strange is going on.”

Selma heeded the advice from a new doctor who urged her to get an MRI, during which she was in tears, frightened of what was happening to her body.

The results were undeniable: 20 lesions on her brain—it was multiple sclerosis.

Selma Blair looking stylish in long flowy formal gowm with one arm extended and the other balancing a cane
Selma Blair attends the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California. PHOTO BY EMMA MCINTYRE /VF19/WIREIMAGE

“I cried. I had tears. They weren’t tears of panic—they were tears of knowing I now had to give in to a body that had loss of control,” she said in an interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. “There was some relief in that, ’cause ever since my son was born, I was in an M.S. flare-up and didn’t know. I was giving it everything to seem normal.”

The Journey with M.S.

Multiple sclerosis, or M.S., is a potentially disabling disease. It impacts the brain and central nervous system. It gradually affects the entire body. It causes the immune system to eat away at the protective covering of the nerves.

Having M.S. is an emotional, painful, and unpredictable ride, sometimes leaving people who suffer from the disease wanting to give up.

But, for Selma, that is not the case. “There’s no tragedy for me,” she told Vanity Fair. “I’m happy, and if I can help anyone be more comfortable in their skin, it’s more than I’ve ever done before.”

The 48-year-old actress is resilient, using M.S. as a way to fight, giving hope to others suffering from the disease, and being an advocate for people with disabilities.

Through her journey with M.S., Selma decided that she would open about her disease and not hold anything back from the press or social media. “This is my journey…and all are welcome here,” she writes on her Instagram page.

“It just made sense to be candid. At the time, I was in a long flare and was very symptomatic. It was all new to me, and I just didn’t want to bother playing any type of game of peekaboo,” she said.

This candidness is evidenced through her interviews, such as her appearance on Good Morning America, in which she appeared with a cane and her statement of wanting to make canes chic, which touched many viewers who witnessed the interview, many of whom have their own canes.

Selma poses backstage in hot pink pantsuit and heels, balncing with a cane and smiling
Selma poses backstage during the TIME 100 Health Summit at Pier 17 in New York City. PHOTO BY CRAIG BARRITT/GETTY IMAGES FOR TIME 100 HEALTH SUMMIT

Selma rocks her cane, viewing it as a great fashion accessory. When she first stepped out with a cane at the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, Selma turned heads, and prompted others to show the same courage. Twitter feeds were filled with praise for the star:

“The real winner of Oscar night is Selma Blair.”

“#SelmaBlair in tears as she attends the @VanityFair #Oscars party made me cry. I’ve often been walking on aid and exhaustion can just hit and you think, how am I going to do this? But you keep going. She is amazing.”

Selma was—an is—an icon.

Advocating and Raising Awareness

Selma aims to bear all and to help raise awareness for those suffering from this little understood disease and those who, like Selma years ago, have no idea they have M.S.

Selma shared her insights into the struggles that impact her not just as a woman but also as a single mother.

“One of the bigger things is honestly the fatigue. As a mom or anyone trying to do something primarily by themselves with a little tiny person witnessing everything you’re doing, it can feel unsustainable. Figuring out intricacies of neurological disorders is a constant reckoning of how to do better, when to sleep, what you can do, what is very emotionally triggering, you know. There are many layers of it that I now see, people with the disabilities are so busy in our minds.”

Through the sharing of her journey, Selma makes it her mission to help those struggling with M.S. and other disabilities. She credits others who have taken this path of openness and advocacy, such as Michael J. Fox, with inspiring her to do the same.

“I remember when I was younger and Michael J. Fox came out. I was

Selma in a sidewise angle smiling hoding on to her young son in a suit smiling
Selma and Arthur attend the 26th Annual Race to Erase MS Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. PHOTO BY AXELLE/BAUER-GRIFFIN/FILMMAGIC

such a humongous fan of his, and seeing him be so candid about something that seemed so far away from me at the time. I’ve kind of held his example, and I’ve learned that there is an intrinsic value in opening up some of your experiences to people, because the conditions we deal with are often very isolating and when there’s someone that’s out there that could possibly really shed a light on it and bring more attention.”

Her grace and humility as well as her willingness to be a light shining into the unknown darkness for people with disabilities is heroic, though she shrugs off such a label.

“I’m not a hero. I make no bones about that in my life. But I am very honored if my experience, my mess ups and my triumphs help other people,” she said.

For those who are struggling with the disease or for those who have recently been diagnosed, Selma offers some insight and advice:

“Some people said you’ll be better right away. Some said no, healing is not linear. It can take two years. I kind of have fallen in between all that, and I think I would tell someone, ‘Your whole mind can change. Try not to be afraid. I’ve learned so many things, and I pray that you continue to search for what can make you happy and calm. But it takes time. I’m just starting to feel like I’m learning now.’”

“Mommy’s Brave”

To 9-year-old Arthur, his mom is a hero, and he does not view her experiences negatively. “He says, ‘Mommy’s not sick. Mommy’s brave,’” Selma shared with People.

Selma’s commitment to Arthur has remained steadfast and honest. He has seen her face these challenges but remains extremely proud of his resilient mother.

Selma with cast of Cruel Intention onstage in a group photo
Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Molly McCook, Emma Hunton and Katie Stevens attend “The Unauthorized Musical Parody Of Cruel Intentions” at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images)

She stated, “He said, ‘I love when you come to school because you make the kids laugh and you answer all their questions.” She remains completely open about her struggles, even with Arthur’s classmates, explaining to them why she may walk differently.

“I explain what’s happening and that my voice doesn’t hurt, and we have really decent exchanges. I had no idea Arthur was proud of that. I thought ‘I’m probably an embarrassment,’ but to know I’m not was one of my proudest moments.”

Always Resilient

Selma’s resilience started at a young age. She was born outside of Detroit, Michigan, in the suburb of Southfield. Her interest in acting took hold at an early age, and she credits a high school English teacher, Mr. Toner, with pushing her forward, telling her never to give up, which would serve her well in years to come.

Moving to New York, she was torn between acting and photography.

“When I went to New York, the purpose was a toss-up,” Selma stated. “I didn’t know if I could be a photographer or an actress, but with acting, you can at least go to a class and do workshops, but it was hard to just be an assistant for someone without a lot of experience as a photographer and break-in, so they were both passions.”

Over the years, Selma has played many roles with more than four dozen short and feature films. Her most favorite role was her first major picture, the 1999 film Cruel Intentions with Selma starring opposite actors Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Reese Witherspoon.

“It was kind of the dream come true first job. After studying in New York, I went to LA, and my first major part was in a real studio film. And while I had done a few small roles before that, that was really my first substantial role with stars that I had loved and they were basically my contemporaries, but, of course, they are already established actors. I laughed and laughed and laughed, and that’s when I kind of realized I really loved what comedy could be and how it could feel.”

Shining Light, Bringing Hope

Selma’s journey is one of inclusion, a journey that many have been on and, sadly, many more are just beginning. Through her candidness, she is willing to share her triumphs and defeats with the world to help others learn, to be a pathfinder for those suffering from the debilitating symptoms of multiple sclerosis. She is a hero of advocacy.

And through it all—her slurred speech, aches and pains, exhaustion, and much more—Selma handles it all with a smile, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “…Take this opportunity to be the best you can be, to help your days along,” she said.

For Selma, there is no tragedy—only positivity. “I don’t know if I believed in myself or had the ambition before my diagnosis,” she said to Vanity Fair. “And oddly now I do, and I don’t know if it’s too late.”

This is her journey and all are welcome.

How Cooks Are Helping to End World Hunger
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woman wearing a blue apron that says Cooks Who Feed

Everyone has food waste, even if we try to be mindful about our purchases and how much we are preparing. While we may all account for a little here and there, it adds up to a lot of wasted food.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it’s estimated that 30-40 percent of our nation’s food supply is wasted. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization estimates that over 800 million people per year around the world do not have enough to eat. One organization, Cooks Who Feed, is taking on the mission of helping to feed the people who need it most.

“When I realized the facts surrounding food waste and world hunger, I felt I had to do something about it,” explains Seema Sanghavi, founder of the organization Cooks Who Feed. “We help make it easier to get involved in helping to end world hunger. One of our aprons will top the list of many gift buyers this season.”

The Cooks Who Feed organization has teamed up with well-known chefs to create a line of aprons that people can purchase. Every apron purchased provides 100 meals to those in need. The organization has addressed numerous areas of concern by working with charitable organizations around the globe that collect surplus food to provide immediate hunger relief.

The mission is helping to end world hunger, but the company is also addressing the environmental impact of food waste. The organization works with three charities that obtain food surplus and provide it to those in need. The charities they work with are Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Second Harvest, and Zomato Feeding India. Over a third of Cooks Who Feed profits go to supporting their charity partners.

Beyond the food benefits that the apron sales provide, they also help to support underprivileged women in India. The aprons are all made in a fair-trade facility, giving the women a way to earn a living and rise above poverty so they can feed their families and help others. All of the aprons are environmentally friendly, handcrafted with natural and recycled fabrics. A lot of details have gone into each apron creating a stylish, functional and eco-friendly product that brings sustainable fashion to the kitchen.

Each of the organization’s celebrity chef ambassadors have created their own apron so their fans can purchase an apron designed by the chef. People can choose the one that suits them or the person they are gifting it to. Some of the celebrity chefs that have teamed up with Cooks Who Feed include:

  • Art Smith – Chef Art is an award-winning chef and co-owner of several restaurants, including Blue Door Kitchen & Garden, Art and Soul, and Southern Art and Bourbon Bar. He also spent 10 years being the personal chef of Oprah Winfrey. He’s known for his Southern fried chicken. Every purchase of his specially designed apron also supports Common Threads, which provides disadvantaged children free cooking and nutrition lessons.
  • Christine Cushing – An award-winning chef, Chef Christine is a judge on the hit Food Network program called Wall of Chefs, and won the 2020 Taste Award for “Best Chef” in a TV series for her food, travel documentary series called “Confucius Was a Foodie.” She also has an artisan line of tomato sauces.
  • Romain Avril – Best known for his appearance as a judge on Top Chef Canada All-Stars, Chef Romain has worked at a one and two Michelin star restaurant. He’s a star chef at such restaurants as Colborne Lane, Origin North Bar, and La Société Bistro.
  • Devan Rajkumar – After several years of high-end catering with the Food Dudes, Chef Romain moved into an executive chef role at Luxe Appliance Studio.
  • Gaggan Anand – Known for his progressive Indian cuisine, Chef Gaggan has repeatedly placed on the Restaurants of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. He earned two Michelin stars in the first edition of the Thailand Michelin guide in 2018. He opened the restaurant Gaggan Anand in Bangkok in 2019, and has been profiled in Netflix’s Chef’s Table.

“The greatest lesson in life is taught by our family, simply share our food,” added Chef Art Smith. “By being a part of this great program I’m living that lesson, because every apron purchase shares food with the world. It’s a great feeling to be a part of doing that.”

Cooks Who Feed was founded by Seema Sanghavi. She loves cooking and got the idea for the organization after visiting a nongovernmental organization in India, where women were earning a living by performing safe work. Two years later, she came across information about the food waste problem, and an idea was formed. The mission of the organization is to create a movement, providing 1 million meals per year, which would be made possible by 10,000 apron sales annually.

The Cooks Who Feed aprons come in a variety of colors and styles and start at $55, with free shipping within the U.S. In addition to the celebrity chef aprons, there are others to choose from. The aprons make great gifts for those who enjoy cooking. To get more information about the program or see the selection of aprons, visit the site: https://cookswhofeed.com/.

About Cooks Who Feed

Cooks Who Feed sells a line of fashionable aprons that have been sustainably made and help to feed the world. Working with charities that obtain surplus food, and providing it to the people who need it, the company helps people and the planet. The aprons are handcrafted, eco-friendly, and available online, for retail and for wholesale. To get more information, visit the site: https://cookswhofeed.com/.

Sources:

US Department of Agriculture. Food Waste FAQhttps://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs

World Health Organization. World hunger is still not going down after three years and obesity is still growing.https://www.who.int/news/item/15-07-2019-world-hunger-is-still-not-going-down-after-three-years-and-obesity-is-still-growing-un-report.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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pink ribbon on a pink background with the text October is Breast cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer awareness month or National Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins on Thursday, October 1 and ends on Saturday, October 31 2020.

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, with an average lifetime risk of developing breast cancer at 12 percent. There are about 300,000 cases diagnosed each year, with about 15 percent of those (40,000 people) dying from the disease each year.

A clearer way of looking at it and why it’s so serious is that 1 in 8 women will have breast cancer, and 1 woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes. Additionally, and contrary to what most people believe, breast cancer doesn’t just end with the female folks, men can develop breast cancer as well (although its rare).

Always keep in mind that screening for breast cancer begins at 40 years old (for average risk women) with annual mammograms, and that catching breast cancer early can save your life.

Why Go Pink for October?
Every October, the color pink shows up in full force. From lapel pins to NFL uniforms, people integrate pink into their wardrobes to support breast cancer awareness month. As an awareness campaign, it’s incredibly successful. But awareness is just the first step. From awareness, public health education and advances in research are possible.

Lydia Komarnicky, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and a member of the board of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, says wearing pink “reminds people of the importance of the month of October and to get a mammogram if you have forgotten. More importantly, I think the pink shirt, ribbon, hat, or merchandise of your choice honors those who have successfully beaten the disease, those who are currently battling the disease, and also reminds us of those that have succumbed to the disease.”

History Behind the Pink Ribbon or Breast Cancer Awareness
Charlotte Hayey, who had battled breast cancer, introduced the concept of a peach-colored breast cancer awareness ribbon. In the early 1990s, 68-year-old Haley began making peach ribbons by hand in her home. Her daughter, sister and grandmother had breast cancer. She distributed thousands of ribbons at supermarkets with cards that read: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”

Statistics You Should Know
• About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

• In 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US, along with 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

• About 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2020. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.

• About 42,170 women in the US are expected to die in 2020 from breast cancer. Death rates have been steady in women under 50 since 2007 but have continued to drop in women over 50. The overall death rate from breast cancer decreased by 1.3 percent per year from 2013 to 2017. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances and earlier detection through screening.

• For women in the US, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

• As of January 2020, there are more than 3.5 million women with a history of breast cancer in the US. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.

• Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2020, it’s estimated that about 30 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.

• In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in Black women than white women. Overall, Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower. Ashkenazi Jewish women have a higher risk of breast cancer because of a higher rate of BRCA mutations.

• Breast cancer incidence rates in the US began decreasing in the year 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. They dropped by 7 percent from 2002 to 2003 alone. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk. In recent years, incidence rates have increased slightly by 0.3 percent per year.

• A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than 15 percent of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.

• About 5–10 percent of breast cancers can be linked to known gene mutations inherited from one’s mother or father. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common. On average, women with a BRCA1 mutation have up to a 72 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. For women with a BRCA2 mutation, the risk is 69 percent. Breast cancer that is positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations tends to develop more often in younger women. An increased ovarian cancer risk is also associated with these genetic mutations. In men, BRCA2 mutations are associated with a lifetime breast cancer risk of about 6.8 percent; BRCA1 mutations are a less frequent cause of breast cancer in men.

• About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

• The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are sex (being a woman) and age (growing older).

Source: breastcancer.org & smarthomeradar.com

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Upcoming Events

  1. Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE)
    August 16, 2021 - August 19, 2021
  2. WIFLE Annual Leadership Training
    August 16, 2021 - August 19, 2021
  3. WiCyS 2021 Conference
    September 8, 2021 - September 10, 2021
  4. 2021 ERG & Council Conference
    September 15, 2021 - September 17, 2021
  5. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021

Upcoming Events

  1. Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE)
    August 16, 2021 - August 19, 2021
  2. WIFLE Annual Leadership Training
    August 16, 2021 - August 19, 2021
  3. WiCyS 2021 Conference
    September 8, 2021 - September 10, 2021
  4. 2021 ERG & Council Conference
    September 15, 2021 - September 17, 2021
  5. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021