Gabrielle Emanuel

The roots of the National Cancer Act can be traced back to a small home in Watertown, Wisconsin, in the early 1900s.

A little girl named Mary tagged along when her mother went to that home, to visit their laundress, Mrs. Belter.

In Lowell, Massachusetts, a long line of cars snakes around the local middle school. The reward at the front of the line: free rapid tests. Carol Mehigan and her niece, Chantelle, skipped the line and showed up on foot. Mehigan was beaming.

"Oh my god, this is fantastic," she said to the volunteer who handed her the tests.

This year, Hillary Creech – the parent of a 10th grader and wife to a teacher – had an unusual back-to-school shopping list.

She ordered a box fan, some high-quality air filters, and a lot of duct tape. Why? To make a homemade air purifier for the local high school where her husband teaches.

When COVID-19 first arrived in the U.S., Jodee Pineau-Chaisson was working as the director of social services for a nursing home in western Massachusetts. By the middle of April, residents at the Center for Extended Care in Amherst were getting sick.

Growing up in Russia, Elena Muraveva was taught the importance of self-reliance.

"I really don't like to complain," she said.

But her days are now defined by debilitating pain and frequent migraines. It's the result of a years-long battle with breast cancer that has also left Muraveva, 52, unable to work.

So she was relieved last year to learn she might qualify for disability benefits. She was given a piece of paper with the address of her local Social Security Administration field office in Philadelphia.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In Massachusetts, many young, healthy medical researchers are rolling up their sleeves to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, at-risk elderly are waiting on the sidelines. According to the state's phased vaccine rollout, seniors are not yet eligible for the shots but everyone employed by a hospital, including those working remotely, can get it.

This situation has infuriated many elderly adults. Carol Halberstadt, 82, is one of them.

Carlos Reyes wears a mask at home and eats alone in his bedroom. During the night, he has nightmares of accidently infecting his family with COVID-19. During the day, he works as a certified nursing assistant at nursing homes in central Massachusetts, often caring for COVID-19 patients.

Reyes assumed that as a front-line health care worker, he would be among the first to receive the vaccine. But when he asked his nursing homes about getting a shot, the answer was "no."

Copyright 2021 WGBH. To see more, visit WGBH.

Health care workers across the country have started receiving COVID-19 vaccines, but doctors and nurses at some of the nation's top hospitals are raising the alarm, charging that vaccine distribution has been unfair and a chaotic "free-for-all."

At hospitals in Massachusetts, New York, Arizona, California and elsewhere, medical professionals say that those with the most exposure to COVID-19 patients are not always the first to get vaccinated. And others who have little or no contact with COVID-19 patients have received vaccinations.

Copyright 2020 WGBH. To see more, visit WGBH.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Shanna LaFountain has been a nursing assistant in New England for 20 years. About two months ago, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, she stopped working.

"It was an extremely hard decision," she said.

LaFountain has three children and made the decision once their schools closed and their learning went online.

"My son was not answering teachers, not doing assignments," she said. "I had to be home with my children."

After three days on a Greyhound bus, Lela Mae Williams was just an hour from her destination—Hyannis, Mass.—when she asked the bus driver to pull over. She needed to change into her finest clothes. She had been promised the Kennedy family would be waiting for her.

It was late on a Wednesday afternoon, nearly 60 years ago, when that Greyhound bus from Little Rock, Ark., pulled into Hyannis. It slowed to a stop near the summer home of President John F. Kennedy and his family. When the doors opened, Lela Mae and her nine youngest children stepped onto the pavement.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

Sentencing is scheduled to begin on Monday in the criminal trial of top executives at Insys Therapeutics. This landmark case was the first successful prosecution of high-ranking pharmaceutical executives linked to the opioid crisis, including onetime billionaire John Kapoor.

Copyright 2020 WGBH. To see more, visit WGBH.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Insys Therapeutics, an opioid manufacturer, has agreed to pay $225 million to settle the federal government's criminal and civil investigations into the company's marketing practices. As part of the settlement, Insys Therapeutics admitted to bribing doctors to prescribe its opioid painkiller.

Last month, a federal jury in Boston found five top Insys Therapeutics executives guilty of racketeering conspiracy for these same practices. Now, the federal government is holding the company accountable.

Fifteen years ago Friday, Hillary and Julie Goodridge married amid great fanfare and great protests.

In pastel suits, with broad smiles and colorful streamers, they exchanged vows and rings just hours after Massachusetts became the first state in America to allow same-sex marriage.

The Goodridges were the face of the movement. The lawsuit that made gay and lesbian marriages a reality bears their name: Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. Historians often divide the equal-marriage movement into "before Goodridge" and "after Goodridge."

Copyright 2019 WGBH Radio. To see more, visit WGBH Radio.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

A jury in Boston has found onetime billionaire and drug company executive John Kapoor and his four co-defendants guilty of a racketeering conspiracy. The verdict came Wednesday after 15 days of deliberation.

Two months ago, Paul Lara saw a letter from his doctor to his insurance company. He recalls looking at the bottom of the page, next to the doctor's signature, "It says: Does this patient have cancer? He marked yes."

Only one problem: Paul Lara has never had cancer.

After decades as a commercial fisherman in Texas, Lara was badly injured on the job. In 2013, his doctor prescribed a high dose of an opioid called Subsys for Lara's back and neck pain. The fentanyl-based spray can be up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Growing up, Kelly Jenkins spent his spare time playing sports. He was an all-star player on the baseball team at his school in the mountains of east Tennessee. And sometimes, he wore lipstick to practice.

As he grew up, Jenkins felt like he wanted to become a teacher.

"Everybody told me it was a horrible idea," Jenkins remembers. "They said, 'Nobody will ever hire you as a transgender woman.' "

In the hills of southern New Hampshire, there's a stately old bell atop the Academy Building at Phillips Exeter.

With each toll, it signals passing periods between classes. The sound of the bell — much like the rest of the sprawling prep school's campus — evokes centuries of tradition. But next year, the school is trying something new.

It's all happening in an inconspicuous wood-framed building: Kirtland House. Right now, Kirtland House is a girls' dorm, but a sign on the first-floor bathroom hints at the future. It reads: "gender-inclusive restroom."

As the Trump administration cracks down on undocumented immigration, religious communities across the country are responding by preparing to shelter people at risk of deportation.

In Denver, a congregation is already hosting an undocumented person avoiding immigration enforcement. And the Episcopal church in Los Angeles has declared itself a sanctuary diocese.

I was standing by the airport exit, debating whether to get a snack, when a young man with a round face approached me.

I focused hard to decipher his words. In a thick accent, he asked me to help him find his suitcase.

As we walked to baggage claim, I learned his name: Edward Murinzi. This was his very first plane trip. A refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he'd just arrived to begin his American life.

Part 4 of our series, "Unlocking Dyslexia."

Megan Lordos, a middle school teacher, says she was not allowed to use the word "dyslexia."

She's not alone. Parents and teachers across the country have raised concerns about some schools hesitating, or completely refusing, to say the word.

As the most common learning disability in the U.S., dyslexia affects somewhere between 5 and 17 percent of the population. That means millions of school children around the country struggle with it.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

We're reporting this week on the most common reading disability. Ask just about anyone what dyslexia is, you'll almost certainly hear something like this.

Part 1 of our series "Unlocking Dyslexia."

"It's frustrating that you can't read the simplest word in the world."

Thomas Lester grabs a book and opens to a random page. He points to a word: galloping.

"Goll—. G—. Gaa—. Gaa—. G—. " He keeps trying. It is as if the rest ­­of the word is in him somewhere, but he can't sound it out.

"I don't ... I quit." He tosses the book and it skids along the table.

When it comes to sentence structure, Rocky, a sea lion, was a stickler.

"It really mattered to her, what's going to be the direct and indirect object," says Kathy Streeter, an animal trainer.

For Sierra, it isn't the grammar that interests her. It's the vocalizations. This California sea lion loves experimenting with her vocal range, and she hates being interrupted.

Part of our NPR Ed series on mental health in schools.

Every Monday morning at Harvie Elementary School, in Henrico County, Va., Brett Welch stands outside her office door as kids file in.

"The first thing I'm looking for are the faces," says Welch, a school counselor. She's searching for hints of fear, pain or anger.

"Maybe there was a domestic incident at the house that weekend," says Welch. "That's reality for a lot of our kids."

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