When it comes to helping others, Hollywood stars and Grammy award-winners are often at an advantage. Many musicians use their fame to give back via charity benefit concerts. However, American rapper Pitbull is using a more hands-on approach, helping Puerto Rican cancer sufferers get chemo by flying them to the U.S.
The singer, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, was thanked by Puerto Rico congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez on Twitter.
“Thank you @pitbull for lending your private plane to move cancer patients from PR to USA so that they can get chemo,” she wrote.
The island was recently devastated by Hurricane Maria, leaving many without basic necessities. A number of ill and injured remain stranded. Pitbull’s occasional collaborator Jennifer Lopez has since donated $1 million to aid hurricane victims.
“Thank God we’re blessed to help. Just doing my part,” [said Pitbull.]
We may like to think so, but stars aren’t all about glamor. Often, we forget they’re human too.
For lack of a better label, exclusive villages aren’t what they seem. In fact, one in the Netherlands exists primarily for transients. Even better — it runs on solar power! As the trend gains traction, Canada has slithered its way into the updraft, inaugurating its first “dementia community.”
“We’ve really designed and tried to build communities where people could be independent and live their own life their way,” [project leader Elroy] Jespersen said… “We thought we should add another piece to that to allow them to stay within, if you will, our ‘family’ of communities.”
The single-story, cottage-style homes will act as humble abodes to 78 residents. If there is one thing The Village isn’t, it’s a nursing home. Inhabitants will be able to shop, grab an Americano, and avail of regular services. Nonetheless, living costs remain a pressing issue.
“People will say that’s a lot of money, and it absolutely is a lot of money,” he said. “It’s about the same amount of money we would get from the government if the government funded us to provide care. That’s what it costs to do what we’re doing.”
Where money gets in the way, hopefully others vie for change.
Moderna’s personalized cancer vaccine may be a leap towards a cure, but the wait is long from over. Until then, a select few have been making life more comfortable for cancer sufferers. Zach Bolster, a former hedge fund vice president, is the founder of ChemoCars — a ride service for chemo patients.
“My family was shocked by how many cancer patients had difficulty getting to their chemotherapy treatments. We soon realized what a huge financial and family burden transportation during cancer treatments can be. Some patients resorted to riding the bus, others, unfortunately, missed their treatment altogether.”
Inspired by his late mother, a victim of pancreatic cancer, Bolster and his wife Patricia have offered over 2,000 free rides. Many users have become regulars, avoiding the hassle of buses and transportation expenses.
“ChemoCars gives patients a chance to do something for themselves. They rely so much on family that this means they can use family or friends for other things and – not for the daily chore of getting treatment,” [nurse Pam Gwaltney says.]
Though business-minded, Bolster doesn’t see dollar signs on the horizon. ChemoCars has become a tribute to his mother and a symbol of hope for many.
Gene editing in healthcare isn’t a novel procedure, but has been seeing fairly recent breakthroughs. The technique has brought us closer to curing paralysis and “butterfly” disease. But in an ambitious first, scientists at Benioff Children’s Hospital have attempted to rewrite DNA in a live patient to cure a rare genetic disorder.
“This is opening up a whole new field of medicine,” said Sandy Macrae, president of Sangamo Therapeutics, which funded the trial. “You can imagine all the diseases that now become possible to treat when you can put in a new copy of the gene, or turn it up or turn it down.”
The experimental patient suffered from Hunter syndrome, which damages organs due to lack of a particular enzyme. Researchers have yet to report on the new method’s success. With only some 12 gene editing trials in progress, the study has a lot to prove but, on the whole, seems promising.
Eric Topol, a geneticist and cardiologist at the Scripps Translational Science Institute, called the new trial “a very important milestone.”
“I’ve been following medicine over 30 years. I’ve never seen anything move at this velocity,”
Thanks to an abundance of brand new technology, gene therapy is getting the boost it deserves. Hopefully it’ll see its patients through to a happy ending.