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How your phone's camera could help detect a rare cancer in kids.

What wasn't available for his son may now save other kids.

How your phone's camera could help detect a rare cancer in kids.
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In 2008, 1-year-old Noah Shaw was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer called retinoblastoma.

By the time he received the diagnosis, the cancer had progressed and the treatment plan was extremely intense.

Months of chemo and radiation followed, and Noah had to undergo surgery to remove his right eye to keep the cancer from spreading to his brain.


All images from Bryan Shaw, used with permission.

That's a lot to go through in your first year of life.

As worried parents often do, Bryan and Elizabeth Shaw wondered if there were any missing warning signs that would have helped get Noah's diagnosis sooner.

They remembered the photographs that first raised concerns. Instead of the usual red dot of a pupil, they had noticed one of Noah's eyes appeared different from the other.

Being a scientist himself, Bryan wanted to see if he could track down when that difference first appeared. Bryan and Elizabeth turned to Noah's baby pictures to see how early this symptom showed up in photos before he was diagnosed.

Lo and behold, a clear warning sign is exactly what they found.

It's all about a white reflection that appears in the eye in photos with a camera flash.

Blood vessels in the back of the eye will normally reflect red, but if there is a tumor or other issue present, the eye may appear differently.

For Noah, that white glow first began appearing in photos when he was just 12 days old.

The presence of a white glow in a child's eye can help determine whether a baby has leukocoria, an early indicator of an eye problem ranging from a refractive error, where a baby needs glasses, to a rare form of cancer, like in Noah's case.

Noah, now a lively 7-year-old, is doing great. But Bryan never stopped thinking about how he could help other kids detect their eye problems earlier on.

"If I would have had some software in it telling me, 'Hey, go get this checked out,' that would have sped up my son's diagnosis and the tumors would have been just a little bit smaller when we got to them. There might have been fewer," Bryan told NPR.

A chemist at the University of Baylor, Bryan decided to shake up his career path by exploring life as a software designer too.

Bryan launched a free app called CRADLE that screens kids for leukocoria through their photos.

Created with the help of Baylor colleagues and graduate students, the app is available on both iPhone and Android for free under the name CRADLE, which stands for ComputeR Assisted Detector of LEukocoria. Clever.

The app can search your device for all photos that might contain white eye, given that leukocoria can show up inconsistently. It can also be used in real-time, snapping a photo through the app itself.

Even better? The app is working.

If the app finds a photo that could be a leukocoria, it recommends a visit straight to the pediatrician.

"Multiple families have used it to catch cancer in their children at such early stages — way before doctors — that the children received only laser treatment, no chemo, no radiation, no eye removal," Bryan said in an email to Welcometoterranova.

And while retinoblastoma itself is very rare — fewer than 12 out of 1 million children aged 0-4 will develop it — the app goes beyond to help with other eye problems.

Shaw says "white eye" in kids is a symptom of a lot more than cancer. The app has caught Coats' disease, myelinated retinal nerve fiber layer, and a bunch of refractive errors (i.e., kids needing glasses).

Posting and sharing photos is more than just a great way to connect and document life: It can now share valuable information about the health of a child's eyes.

Bryan knows early diagnosis is key and parents see their kids a lot more than doctors do. While it's no substitute for being seen by an actual doctor, there is no question that this app can make a difference.

"From here, the software is going to get better," he told People. "It's going to get more accurate as we collect more and more pictures to train it and make it smarter."

Keep the pictures comin'.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Welcometoterranova article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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via Twins Trust / Twitter

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Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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