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Diversity in Disability

Jul/08/2023 / by Team Seema

 A creative hashtag empowers South Asians with intersecting identities

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July is Disability Pride Month, but for South Asians with disabilities, it can be challenging to navigate the intersection of two identities, and the increased discrimination that can result. That’s why Sukhjeen Kaur, founder of non-profit Chronically Brown, created the hashtag #desiabled to provide new visibility to a community often overlooked or stigmatized.   

“We try our hardest to be heard in the disabled movement by removing our culture, ethnicity, and religion. And we try our hardest to be heard in South Asian communities that refuse to acknowledge disability,” wrote Kaur in a blog post about the hashtag. “Ultimately, we are fighting for a place in both communities. We are a minority, within a minority.”

The hashtag began in 2021 across Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter, and has thousands of posts across platforms. The organization is also working on translating resources for a number of chronic health conditions in languages including Bengali. Punjabi, Urdu and more. For more information, check out chronicallybrown.com.

Aarushi

PQ: “I was born with a congenital anomaly called spina bifida, along with hydrocephalus. My disability has made me a wheelchair user since birth. At the time of my birth, my parents were told that I won’t live long and even if I did, I would live like a vegetable. Fast forward to this day, 20 years later I’m alive and thriving.” —Aarushi 

Sandeep

“I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, and I would also later get diagnosed with PCOS and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I dropped out of law school and focused fully on my health. It was a hard decision to make to leave law school, as I felt a lot of family pressure to stay in law school. Because I wasn’t visibly altered and no one could SEE my conditions, it was hard for my extended family to actually believe there was something wrong with me.” —Sandeep 

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Loving Every Body 

3 influencers bringing new perspectives on self-image 

Social media increasingly shapes self-esteem, especially on Instagram which has been shown to have damaging effects in study after study. Recent research by the National Institutes of Health found that the more time was spent on Instagram, the more likely the user suffered from poorer body image satisfaction and self-esteem as a result of comparing physical appearance to others. 

But one way to change this is to fill our feeds with more body positive role models. Here are a few of our favorite must-follows in the body positivity space: 

Sakshi Sindwani

@StyleMeUpWithSakshi [instagram.com/stylemeupwithsakshi]

567K followers

A crowd favorite for her fashion recommendations for curvy girls (both on Insta and her YouTube channel, Sakshi also now collaborates with major brands during fashion week events. 

Dolly Singh

@dollysingh [instagram.com/dollysingh]

Everyday, Dolly gets cruel messages online telling her to “get her teeth fixed.” And while she was once self-conscious, she’s not only proud of her beautiful smile, but is also now a Colgate spokesperson, and works to tell young girls to be their authentic selves. 

1.6M followers 

Harnaam Kaur

@harnaamkaur [instagram.com/harnaamkaur]

162K followers 

Diagnosed at age 12 with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Harnaam started growing facial hair — but rather than shave it or otherwise get rid of it, she embraces it as part of her authentic beauty, while also advocating for more awareness of the disease and for body acceptance. “I will always root for people who are different,” she says.

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The Rare Cancer Worth Researching

July is Sarcoma and Bone Cancer Awareness Month. Here’s what you need to know about this infrequent but serious type of cancer.

Though a rare type of cancer, sarcomas can seriously impact health, and more research is needed to understand, treat, and cure them when they occur. That’s why July has been named sarcoma and bone cancer awareness month to help bring awareness to and study the more than 70 types of sarcoma. 

What is soft tissue sarcoma?

Soft tissue sarcoma is a type of cancer that starts in the muscle, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, or other supporting tissue of the body. These tumors most commonly appear in the arms and legs, but can occur in any part of the body including the chest, abdomen, head and neck area, and internal organs. There are more than 50 different types of soft tissue sarcomas.

How common is soft tissue sarcoma?

Soft tissue sarcoma is rare, representing 1% of all cancers in adults. In 2023, the American Cancer Society estimates that 13,400 new soft tissue sarcomas will be diagnosed—7,400 in males and 6,000 in females. ​​The five-year survival rate for soft tissue sarcomas is 65.8 percent.

What are the symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma?

Symptoms of soft tissue sarcoma are rare in early stages. Most times, the initial symptom is a lump that’s grown over time. This lump may or may not be painful. Symptoms can vary depending on where in the body the sarcoma starts. Other symptoms may include abdominal pain that’s getting, shortness of breath, blood in your stool or vomit, and black, tarry stool. It’s important to see your doctor right away if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

What are the risk factors for soft tissue sarcoma?

●      Past treatment with radiation therapy for other cancers

●      Certain inherited disorders including Gardner syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, retinoblastoma, tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis, Werner syndrome, and nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome

●      Exposure to certain chemicals, such as thorium dioxide, vinyl chloride, or arsenic

●  Long-term lymphedema in the arms or legs

●  Being infected with HIV and human herpesvirus 8

Some soft tissue sarcomas can be prevented by avoiding exposure to risk factors. However, most sarcomas develop in those with no known risk factors, meaning there is no known way to prevent this cancer. Early detection is essential for successful treatment.