Saturday January 18, 2020

The Survivors Of Breast Cancer And Their Beauty

When fighting breast cancer, Listman said, it's helpful to feel beautiful.

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Breast Cancer
Maggie Kudirka, the "Bald Ballerina," who travels the country educating young dancers and adults about metastatic breast cancer, inspired Linda McCarthy's Survivors photography project. VOA

When thinking about people with cancer, the images that first come to mind are usually dark, sad and depressing. But that’s not what photographer Linda McCarthy sees. With her “Survivors” project, her goal was to put a face on breast cancer, photographing women who survived or are being treated for the disease.

“I wanted to photograph them as whole women not the parts that they see of themselves,” she explained. “So, I didn’t want scars, I didn’t want anything like that. I wanted them to see how beautiful they are. They are survivors, they change their outlook on life and say, ‘Yes, this is me, and I’m a survivor.’ So, you see the transformation going on while I photograph them.”

One of the survivors is Cheryl Listman. The single mother was diagnosed with stage 2-B breast cancer in 2013, and told she had a 40 percent chance of survival. Thinking about her two kids made her determined to not give up and to keep fighting the disease.

The Survivors photography project fit nicely with her attitude.

“I work with women, I help educate women who are going through the journey and just help them navigate through the medical side of it,” Listman said. “When she (Linda McCarthy) asked me, I thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s just another impact that I could have on women.’ And then also I would be able to look back and see how far I came.”

Focusing on the whole woman

The idea of featuring breast cancer survivors came to McCarthy when she was searching for a ballerina to photograph for her portfolio.

“I was introduced to Maggie, who is known as the Bald Ballerina,” she recalled. “She was diagnosed at the age of 23 with stage-4 metastatic breast cancer. So, I met her and asked if I could photograph her, not as a ballerina, but as a beautiful girl who happens to have breast cancer.”

Breast Cancer
Linda McCarthy’s photo of Cheryl Listman, like the other photographs in the Survivors project, includes a life-affirming phrase. VOA

Through the lens of her camera, McCarthy says she has always sought to capture the spirit and essence of her subjects.

To do that, McCarthy offered each of the participants a consultation session. During that time, they opened up and talked about themselves, giving her a chance to get to know them.

The women were also given a makeover. By the end of the session with makeup artist Victoria Ronan, many were surprised — and delighted.

“In some cases, it’s been a very long time since they had makeup on, it’s been a very long time since they had done something for themselves,” Ronan said. “I had a lot of women look in the mirror and just start tearing up. They couldn’t believe how beautiful I’ve made them look.”

Also Read: Wireless Device to Detect Heart Dysfunction in Cancer Survivors

When fighting breast cancer, Listman said, it’s helpful to feel beautiful.

“It’s very important because when you go through a horrific journey and treatment, you don’t feel beautiful,” Listman explained. “There is a lot of things done to your body physically, there is a lot of things done to you emotionally, mentally, things that you will never forget that are not pretty. So, when you get to that point in your journey, you feel like a woman again, you feel beautiful, you feel like you’ve accomplished the mission.” (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s How Fitbit Smartwatch May Help You Predict Flu in Real-Time

The authors identify several limitations in their study

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Fitbit
Resting heart rate tends to spike during infectious episodes and this is captured by wearable devices such as Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers that track heart rate. Pixabay

In a first-ever study on wearable devices to improve surveillance of infectious disease, researchers in the US have achieved real-time flu prediction in five states, using resting heart rate and sleep tracking data from Fitbit users.

Resting heart rate tends to spike during infectious episodes and this is captured by wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers that track heart rate.

Influenza results in 650,000 deaths worldwide annually. And approximately 7 per cent of working adults and 20 per cent of children aged under five years get flu each year.

“Responding more quickly to influenza outbreaks can prevent further spread and infection, and we were curious to see if sensor data could improve real-time surveillance at the state level,” said study author Dr Jennifer Radin from Scripps Research Translational Institute.

The researchers reviewed de-identified data from 200,000 users who wore a Fitbit wearable device that tracks users’ activity, heart rate and sleep for at least 60 days during the study time.

fitbit
In a first-ever study on wearable devices to improve surveillance of infectious disease, researchers in the US have achieved real-time flu prediction in five states, using resting heart rate and sleep tracking data from Fitbit users. Pixabay

From the 200,000, 47,248 users from California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania wore a Fitbit device consistently during the study period, resulting in a total of 13,342,651 daily measurements evaluated.

The average user was 43 years old and 60 per cent were female.

De-identified data from the users retrospectively identified weeks with elevated resting heart rate and changes to routine sleep, said the research published in The Lancet Digital Health journal.

“In the future as these devices improve, and with access to 24/7 real-time data, it may be possible to identify rates of influenza on a daily instead of weekly basis,” said Radin.

This data was compared to weekly estimates for influenza-like illness rates reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

This is the first time heart rate trackers and sleep data have been used to predict flu, or any infectious disease, in real-time.

With greater volumes of data it may be possible to apply the method to more geographically refined areas, such as county or city-level.

The authors identify several limitations in their study.

Weekly resting heart rate averages may include days when an individual is both sick and not sick, and this may result in underestimation of illness by lowering the weekly averages.

Fitbit
This is the first time heart rate trackers and sleep data have been used to predict flu, or any infectious disease, in real-time. Pixabay

Other factors may also increase resting heart rate, including stress or other infections.

ALSO READ: Most Advanced Radiation Therapy For Cancer Patients Arrives in India

Lastly, the authors noted that previous studies of sleep measuring devices have been found to have low accuracy, though they said that accuracy will continue to improve as technology evolves. (IANS)