When Les Milne was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease aged just 45, his wife Joy was, understandably, devastated. But her sadness wasn’t just down to the fact her husband was in the grip of such a terrible illness but that, when she’d noticed a change in his smell 12 years earlier, she hadn’t realised the two things might be connected. Upon first noticing a “sort of woody, musky odour” Joy “started suggesting tactfully to him that he wasn’t showering enough or cleaning his teeth,” she recalls. “He clearly didn’t smell it and was quite adamant that he was washing properly.” It wasn’t until Joy attended a Parkinson’s UK awareness lecture in 2012, 17 years after her husband’s diagnosis, that the notion of the disease having a particular scent cropped back up. During the session by Dr Tilo Kunath, the charity’s Senior Research Fellow, Joy asked why people with Parkinson’s smell different. “Parkinson’s sufferers often lose their sense of smell so I thought that’s what she was referencing initially,” he remembers. “She clarified that she was asking about a unique body odour, which took me by complete surprise.” It was only months later when Dr Kunath mentioned Joy’s observation to a colleague that he realised a question so specific may belie a unique gift. “I tracked her down and we did a test where she smelled 12 T-shirts – six having been worn by Parkinson’s sufferers and six without,” he explains. “She identified seven of the T-shirts as being from Parkinson’s sufferers and we thought ‘11 right out of 12 – not bad.’” Eight months later the seventh person, who had been a ‘healthy’ control subject at the time, came to Dr Kunath’s team saying they had been diagnosed with the condition. Joy has now been working with scientists to create a groundbreaking early-detection test. If we’ve ever seen a superhero in the real word it, could well be Joy.
Despite the numerous odds stacked against her, Ruba Al-Riyahi was determined to look for a job after graduation. And indeed, she did; however, not many news agencies were keen on hiring a blind person. After two years of searching, Al-Riyahi shared her story on a radio show, and fortunately, the editor-in-chief of the Jordanian paper Al-Ghad was listening; and in no time, she had a job. For seven consecutive years, she has been writing for the lifestyle section of the magazine. “People with disabilities are always considered to be in need of help. “So many find it strange when we are successful or achieve anything,” Al-Riyahi told Now This. “I felt a responsibility to reflect a bright image of myself and of others, to show that we can achieve anything we want.” Through her daily writings, she urged the special needs community to have confidence in their own abilities and to rise above the challenges; for, after all, she had rightly believed that we all are humans and that those with disabilities can have the same impact as those who do not. In March, Ruba Al-Riyahi was inducted into Jordanian Press Association. She is the first blind journalist to ever join. The long-established union offers members a number of privileges including housing opportunities, as well as educational scholarships to their family members.
(Dr. John R. Watret // Twitter)
As Chancellor of the Embry-Riddle Worldwide Campus, Dr. John R. Watret knows the power of women in aviation. On a flight to Atlanta, Watret overheard a woman boarding the aircraft asked a flight attendant if her two children could visit the flight deck. “The flight attendant said they could – and that they would be surprised,” Watret said. When the mother and her kids returned from their visit with the pilots, Watret overheard them talking about the “mother and daughter” flying the plane. “I asked if I could visit them, too.” That’s when he snapped the photo for his tweet of Capt. Wendy and First Officer Kelly Rexon, the mother-daughter dream team. Watret’s shout-out to the Rexons came on the heels of the recently completed 30th annual International Women in Aviation Conference. Women in Aviation International, founded by a member of the Embry-Riddle faculty, celebrates female pioneers in the field as it looks ahead toward building a future that’s bright with opportunities for women to succeed. Held in conjunction with the conference, Embry-Riddle also hosted a STEM event during Girls in Aviation Day, which introduced some 300 young women ages 7 to 17 to aviation careers. For Watret, the mother and daughter pilot team brought home – literally – the point. “The first officer had a great role model for becoming a pilot – her mother,” Watret said. “It’s good for aviation and inspiring for all of us.” Kelly Rexon’s sister is also a pilot, a family of high-flying women!
Have a positive week,
Love Neon Moon x
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