Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teal Take Over: I'm Taking the Teal Challenge

During the month of September, The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance makes a big fundraising effort in honor of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. They encourage people to sign up and take the Teal Challenge. This year I am participating. 

I have set my goal relatively low at $100. Every dollar raised will help to fight this horrible disease and to eventually find a cure. I am asking you to help. Any amount that you can give would be appreciated. 

One way that I am raising money is by donating all of the profits that I make from selling ads on My Ramblings to my Teal Challenge fund. Click on the Sponsor page for more information about the ads that I am offering. There are plenty of spaces left. This way, you will get exposure for your blog or shop, as well as help out a great cause. 

If you would like to donate, all you have to do is click on the image above that says "I'm taking the Teal Challenge." There is also a fundraising widget in my sidebar. Please help if you can. 

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Survivor Spotlight Sunday: Meet Kim Snyder

Each Sunday in the month of September, I will spotlight ovarian cancer Survivors. If you or someone you know would like to be spotlighted, please contact me for more information. 

Today, I would like to introduce you to Kim Snyder. Kim is the President of Ovacome (an organization which will be featured later this week) and an ovarian cancer Survivor. She lives in Clearwater, Florida and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 41 years old. Kim has shared her story with me, and would like to share it with you. You can tell that she is passionate about spreading awareness. I encourage you to read the whole thing. Parts in bold are ones that stood out to me. 

My story...
There is so much I can tell you and I am so passionate about the advocacy, I can wonder off in many directions, so I would like to write my story about being aware of your own body, awareness. … If you feel that there may be something more that your body is telling you, please don’t be afraid to go for a second opinion. In my case, I went to three doctors before I finally went to the emergency room. (One fertility doctor, one walk-in clinic, and one primary care doctor.)

Around the middle of January 2008, I started to feel really lethargic and had no energy. On Friday February 1st, I went to a walk in clinic. I was very tired, had a small cough and some abdominal pain. The Dr. tested me for the flu, it came back negative and then she said it could be a cold or allergies. She gave me a prescription for antibiotics, something for the cough and told me to take Mucenix to break up the cough. Well, by Monday the 4th, I still didn't feel well so I went to a new Primary care doctor since my old doctor had just retired. He took me off the medicine the walk in clinic prescribed and said that I just had a virus and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He gave me a prescription for the IBS. He also did some blood work and took a urine sample, which showed that I did not have a bladder infection. Later on that Monday, February 4th, the Dr. office called and said that my white blood count was off and they were going to call in an antibiotic. I called in sick for 6 days.

I had no energy and when I stood up, I had heavy breathing. I did not feel that the breathing issue was in the heart, but that it was coming from my abdomen and my stomach felt heavy. By Sunday the 10th, I just wanted to know what was wrong with me and I also did not want to call in sick another day without knowing what was wrong. My mom and sister suggested the emergency room because they would do tests and really find out what was wrong. So on Sunday morning, my husband and I went to the emergency room. And because I was breathing heavy they put me on an EKG right away. I had a rapid heart rate and they moved me to an emergency room and they started some blood work.

I told them that I felt like I had appendicitis but it was tender in the middle, not on the right side. They started feeling around my abdomen and they felt a mass in my abdomen right away. They did some more blood work and sent me for a CAT scan of my heart to make sure that I didn't have blood clots. That CAT scan went well and I didn't have issues with my heart. Then I had to drink this nasty stuff called barium with crystal light lemonade. YUCK. Once I drank that in a very specific time frame…. Off for a CAT scan of my abdomen. The CAT scan showed the mass the size of 9 cm, (3 inches) in my pelvic area. Once that was done, they admitted me to the hospital.

This was the first time I have been in the hospital and I was there for 9 days. Once in my room, they sent me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound didn't see what the CAT scan showed in the pelvic area, but it showed the mass higher up in my abdomen. This told me that I either had multiple tumors or one large tumor. It ended up being one, self contained larger mass (15.3 x 9.4 x 17.1 cm or 6 x 3.7 x 6.7 inches). I guess because the ultrasound was showing something different than the CAT scan, the ultrasound tech said “this is an interesting case, I love interesting cases”. Not something a patient wants to hear. Now the doctor had to figure out where the life of this thing was coming from…my left ovary, the uterus, or my abdomen. So they did a biopsy on my endometrial lining (inside the uterus) and that came back normal, which was good news, but this confused them since they could see the tumor in my uterus. I equate that biopsy to a very very intense pap smear test. Then there was a blood test. The CA125, but it is not very trusting and there are many false positives. Many doctors and insurance companies do not even like to give the test. A normal CA125 is 0-35. My CA125 was 256. They also did an MRI, but that didn’t really show them either where the life of this thing was coming from. It really only showed that it covered my left ovary, uterus, and abdomen. So they scheduled surgery for Friday, 2/15/08.

My surgery was going to start out as exploratory since they wanted to know where this thing was and what it was. They needed to rule out lymphoma and felt that it was mainly my left ovary. Surgery went well and when I woke up, I found out from my husband that the mass did have malignancy and that they took everything out. So at this point, my husband and I were spooked. Cancer. My Dr. stopped by to give me some good news. He went to pathology himself and although we still needed to wait for the pathology report, he felt confident that it was stage 1, early stage malignancy. He did an appendectomy, total hysterectomy, omenectomy, and removed some lymph nodes for testing. He felt that the mass, the cancer was gone and because the mass was self contained my dr. felt that I was cured. A colonoscopy confirmed that it had not spread as well. I did not need to have chemo treatments. 
At my one week post op, the dr. had my final pathology report and it confirmed what he had already told me, that he felt confident that I was cured. I asked him how it spread from my ovary to uterus to my abdomen…as seen in the ultrasound. He said actually, it was lying right on top. It took him 5 minutes to lift it out of me and a 1 ½ hour for the pathologist to figure out what it was. It was the size of volleyball and it weighed a little over 3 lbs and …my cough was gone, since this thing was not pressing on my diaphragm anymore. Looking back, I had many symptoms, frequent urination, and change in bowels, feeling of fullness, menstrual issues, back pain, abdominal pain, bloating, indigestion and fatigue.

NOW, since I had a full hysterectomy, it threw me into menopause. It is called surgical menopause. I do have hot flashes. In the beginning, they were funny. Now, they are just a pain.

Giving credit to my husband, he has been my Angel!! He is always supportive and did everything during my recovery. He truly is amazing.

This was a very surreal and humbling experience. I want everyone to be aware of the symptoms for ovarian cancer.
What can we learn from Kim's story? Be persistent with your doctors. If you feel like something is wrong, keep pushing until they rule out everything. Knowing the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and keeping track of those if you have them, will help detect this disease in the early stages. Kim's ovarian cancer was caught early enough that surgery was the only thing required to treat it. Again, know your body, know the symptoms and don't be afraid to go to every doctor in town until they find out what's going on.

Please come back on Wednesday to learn more about Ovacome, the organization of which Kim is President.

The purpose of Survivor Spotlight Sunday is to help tell the stories of ovarian cancer Survivors and to celebrate them and their triumph over cancer. Please leave an encouraging or supportive comment for today's Survivor. 
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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Teal Take Over: Teal Style Showcase: #WearTeal

Everyday in September, I've worn something teal. However, I am a horrible blogger and have not taken pictures. I need to be better about that this week. I did take a picture of my outfit yesterday since it was Wear Teal Day.

Dress from Cato, Cardigan I've had forever, Scarf from Ooh Baby Designs, Bag from Walmart (Similar), Flower hair clip by Goody from Walmart. 

I also got my nails done yesterday... and I love how they turned out. I didn't want the whole nail to be teal, but I wanted teal accents. 
A small teal ribbon on each ring finger.  Color is "Fly" by OPI

Did you participate in Wear Teal Day? I'd love to see what you wore! 

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Raw Edges: An Interview with Sandra D. Bricker

I have been so fortunate to get to know Sandra Bricker over the last few months. Not only does she write great stories, but she interacts with her readers in a way that I've not seen many authors do. I'm so honored to be a part of the Launch Team for her newest release Raw Edges. If you haven't yet, check out my review of the book, and then go participate in the Link Along that I, along with other "Launchies" as we are affectionately called, participated in earlier this week.

I introduced you to Sandie on Sunday in her Survivor Spotlight. Her story is inspiring. Not many women who have battled ovarian cancer are able to say that they have been cancer free for 8 years!

I was so excited when Sandie agreed to "sit down" (via email) with me to answer some questions about her new book. I love being able to get the author's insight. I told Sandie that this interview would be a great way to end "Sandie Week" on my blog. She replied "Sandie Week... is that like Shark Week?"... to which I answered, "only better!"

I hope you will enjoy this brief interview with her about Raw Edges. 

Me: Raw Edges is a lot different than the other books that you have written before. How was the thought process behind writing this book different?
SB: Well, it was rough getting back into the cancer mindset. I didn't really want to go there again, you know? And yet I knew if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to tell Annabelle and Gray's stories in a way that really reached my readers. It was a couple of months of struggling with this book, in a way that I hadn't struggled with any of my other books. But now that it's behind me, I'm so proud of what came out of it. I attribute it to the grace of God sort of carrying me through it and making something beautiful out of what was the worst period of my life.
Me: You do such a great job with writing characters! Which character was your favorite to write?
SB: In Raw Edges, Jenna was my favorite. Because she wasn't physically PRESENT in the main story, I had to figure out a way to make her spirit shine through. In getting that close to her heart, I really fell in love with her.
Me: Because I have done it several times, I have to ask… When you were writing Sadie’s name, did you find yourself writing “Sandie” sometimes?
SB: All the time!!! I had to do a find-and-replace at the end of the book to fix them all!
Me: I have read in other interviews that you are not a quilter, but the descriptions that you gave about the quilting process and the quilting fever were spot on. What kind of research did you have to do for that aspect of the book?
SB: I met with a couple of people, emailed with a few more, and then spent HOURS of time looking at quilts on the internet and reading about the various processes. What I found was that, even with the most inexperienced, something happened and they were hooked. That's where I got the idea of "The Fever." You are so right! Something about quilting just sucks you in... 'The Fever' is definitely a real thing! 
Me: As an ovarian cancer Survivor, I am sure that Raw Edges was very personal to you. What was the hardest part about writing a book with such a personal subject matter?

SB: I've often struggled with the randomness of the disease, asking myself why I was the one left standing when so many women I've come to love haven't been so blessed. I think the hardest part of writing the book was coming to terms with that and realizing -- through Annabelle -- that there is a plan within the chaos of life. God always has a plan, and He's not required to explain it to us. :-)
Me: You’re known for your laugh out loud humor, and while cancer isn't really a funny subject, you managed to interject some funny moments into the book. Was it difficult to find a balance between seriousness and humor? 

SB: You know, I'm a truly inappropriate person. There. I said it. I laugh at almost everything, to the chagrin of many of the people who love me. I've come to realize that that scripture about a merry heart being medicine is a sort of life verse to me. If I can't find something -- anything! -- to laugh about in a bad situation, I can go to a very dark place. Laughter keeps me sane. And it turns out there are a lot of readers out there who are cut from that same cloth.
Me: Ovacome is a real organization that helps real women who are battling or who have battled ovarian cancer. Did you use real people from the organization to write those characters? 

SB: Yes, I did! When I had my own treatment at St. Joseph's, I didn't even know they existed. It wasn't until some of the women from Ovacome saw a newspaper article about my cancer experience and showed up at my book signing that I even learned about them. I could have SO used that kind of support, and I'm really driven to make sure no other woman walks that road alone like I did when there's someone out there who can help them along. So I saw this book as a vehicle to help that happen. Kim Snyder (Ovacome's president) and a couple of key volunteers named Carole and Dee and Kris ... These real-life warriors gave their permission for me to use them as characters in my story.
Me: What do you want readers of Raw Edges to take away from the book? 

SB: Hope! The assurance that God has a plan, even when we don't understand it. And like He promises in Jeremiah 29:11, He knows the plans He has for us ... plans for a future and a hope. I clung to that verse through my own treatment, and He made good on the promise.
A BIG Thank You to Sandra Bricker for being willing to answer these questions! Her new book, Raw Edges is set to be released on September 17, 2013. You can pre-order your copy today at Amazon or other major book retailers.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Teal Take Over: Blog Link Up

The whole purpose of my Teal Take Over initiative is to help spread awareness of ovarian cancer. I have seen the bloggers come together so many times in support of various causes, and I am hoping that a lot of you will help me 'take over' the blogosphere with a whole host of posts that are spreading ovarian cancer awareness.  Today, I am hosting this Teal Take Over Blog Link up. I'm going to post here some information... facts and figures, symptoms, etc.  and hope that other bloggers will join in and do a post of their own.  In the blogging world, we all reach different audiences, therefore, we all have people that we can impact with this information.  

Please help me by making your own blog post... if you have your own story about how Ovarian Cancer has affected you, please share it.  If you only post the facts and figures, we're still spreading awareness.  By joining this link party, you are helping Teal Take Over... and you are spreading Ovarian Cancer awareness, one blog post at a time.  At the bottom of this post, I have included the information that you need to do your own post, and to link back to this one.  I have the link party open until September 30, so any time during this month, you can link up. 

Why I spread awareness...
When I was 6 years old, my Grandma Ruth passed away after her battle with Ovarian Cancer. I've spent the majority of my life without my Grandma.  During the short time that we had together, she was a very important person in my life.  It is in her memory that I work to spread awareness of this horrible disease.  This is a disease that is silent... the symptoms are common with other diseases and disorders, so less than 20% of women are diagnosed in the early stages.  Early detection is key. 

By the Numbers...
  • 5th leading cause of cancer deaths in American Women
  • Over 22,000 American Women will be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in this year. 
  • Over 15,500 Women in American will die from Ovarian Cancer in this year. 
  • A woman's lifetime risk of developing invasive Ovarian Cancer is 1 in 71.
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area (the area below your stomach and in between your hip bones).
  • Back pain.
  • Being tired all the time.
  • Bloating, which is when the area below your stomach swells or feels full.
  • A change in your bathroom habits, such as having to pass urine very badly or very often.
  • An upset stomach or heartburn.
  • Discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
  • Pain with intercourse. 
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual Irregularities. 
  • About 10 to 15 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a hereditary tendency to develop the disease.
Increased Risk
  • Older women (Middle Age or older)
  • Personal or Family history of Ovarian, Breast or Colorectal Cancer
  • Having never been pregnant or given birth
  • Eastern European Jewish background
  • Have endometriosis
Other Points of Interest...
  • Early detection is key. 
  • Women need to learn their own bodies, to know if the symptoms are abnormal. 
  • There is no test for early detection. Pap tests do not detect Ovarian Cancer
  • The symptoms are often misdiagnosed. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms and ask for a transvaginal ultrasound or a CA-125 blood test, especially if you are at an increased risk.
Organizations that Support Awareness and Ovarian Cancer Patients

PLEASE pass this information along to all of the women that you love! 

Grab this button to use in your own blog post. 

My Ramblings Teal Take Over
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Review: Raw Edges by Sandra D. Bricker

I kind of talked about this book a little bit yesterday when I participated in the Blog Link Along, but I wanted to do a full review on the book as well. If you haven't checked out the link along, please do. You will learn a lot about the book and you can even enter the giveaway at the end. Sandie said that it is kind of like a progressive dinner, but for blogs... I loved that analogy!

Now onto the review:

Raw Edges by Sandra D. Bricker
Abingdon Press - Quilts of Love Series, Book #10

Book description: Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection. When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?

It is rare that a book makes me cry in the prologue. I can only think of one other book that has captivated me almost instantaneously. From that moment, I knew that I was going to love this book. Besides my love for quilting, and my personal connection to ovarian cancer, I am a fan of Sandra Bricker's writing. I read all of the Emma Rae Collection, and If the Shoe Fits. Sandra has a way of painting characters that makes you picture them in your head and feel as if you are literally watching their story unfold, as opposed to reading it. In the prologue, we are introduced to Grayson, Jenna and Sadie McDonough. It is their story that enthralled me, and kept me turning the pages.

As I continued to read, more characters were brought onto the canvas, and more personalities were introduced, and I fell in love with all of them. Raw Edges tells the story of the making of a memory quilt that will be honor ovarian cancer Survivors and memorialize the brave people who have battled the disease but ultimately lost the fight. The quilt was to be auctioned off to help support the Ovacome organization that supports ovarian cancer patients and Survivors.

But the story was so much more than just the story of making a quilt... It was a story of love, a story of a family's grief, a story of a young widower faced with a decision to move on shortly after his wife's death, a story of hope and faith, a story of blending families, a story of preserving memories, a story of honor, a story of awareness, a story of God's timing and a story of healing. I've often said that the best books will take the reader through a whole gamut of emotions. The book definitely does that. It was heartwarming and inspirational.

Throughout the book, Gray and Annabelle have internal conflicts that they must deal with and act on. I really enjoyed the way that Bricker wrote Annabelle's thoughts. I felt as if I was inside of her head with her private thoughts and feelings.

If you are familiar with Bricker's writing, this book is so different than the others that she has written. She is known for writing 'laugh out loud' humor. This book definitely has a much more serious tone, however, Bricker is still able to interject lighthearted aspects into the book. There are plenty of one-liners that had me chuckling through my tears. One of my favorite lines from the book is "“Jesus, cheeseburgers, and quilting,” Dora exclaimed. “I can’t think of a finer way to spend a day.”" - I so agree!

The book is peppered with facts about ovarian cancer and quilting, so I connected to it on those levels. However, if neither of those things interest you, this is still a great book to read. I can't recommend this book enough. If you love a good story, or you need a good cry, this book will not disappoint. Order your copy today from major book retailers.

As a member of the Launch Team for Raw Edges, I was provided with a free electronic copy of the book to read for the sole purpose of review. I was not compensated in any other way. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Sandra Bricker and Abingdon Press for providing me with this opportunity. 

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Raw Edges" by Sandra D. Bricker Link Along: Post 1

Today, I am excited to bring you something a little different. This is not a blog link up, per se, but it is a "Link Along." All of the ladies participating in this link along are part of a Launch Team for the book "Raw Edges" by Sandra D. Bricker, which will be released by Abingdon Press later this month.  The book is the 10th book in the Quilts of Love series

As you go to each of the 7 blogs in the link along, you will discover more information about the book, its characters and the author, Sandra. When you reach the final blog, you will have the chance to enter a giveaway for a signed copy of the book! Each blog will feature a quote from the book, and also information about ovarian cancer to help spread awareness. 

Now, if you've been reading my blog for any period of time, you know that quilting, reading and ovarian cancer awareness are three things that I am passionate about. So when Sandra told us about her new book, a book that would encompass all three of those things, I was ecstatic. I will doing a full review of the book later this week, but for now here is some basic information. 

Book Description: Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection. When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?

Expected Release Date: September 17, 2013

Pre-Order Your Copy: AmazonB&NCBD

Love this quote... The "fever" is a real thing! 

Click the Arrow to go to the Next Blog in the Link Along

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Monday, September 2, 2013

5 for Five

Today, I'm linking up with Jenn at Party of One for 5 for Five. 5 goals for one week.

Let's recap last week:
  1. Go to the Post Office - Check! I even posted a photo on Instagram for proof! 
  2. Do a load of laundry every day - Big Fail.
  3. List some items on our local Facebook Yard Sale group - Another Fail. 
  4. Schedule at least 5 blog posts  - I got 3 posts scheduled, but I did sit down and map out my entire month of September for blogging... so I know what I'm going to post everyday. As I mentioned, there will probably be some days where I blog more than once per day (like today), but I have at least 1 post on the calendar for every single day in September. I'm calling this a Check!
  5. Organize my 'Mobile Office' for Tupperware - Done! 
So, that's 3 out of 5 for the first week of doing this... not too bad. Here are my goals for this week: 
  1. Email this lady
  2. Do a load of laundry every day. (yes, again)
  3. List items on our local Facebook Yard Sale group. (another carry over)
  4. Clean out my car. - Tupperware is taking it over! 
  5. Tweet more. - at least 5 tweets per day. I'm falling off of my social media, and I need to pick it back up. Going days and days without posting isn't something that I'm used to, but it seems to be my pattern lately. 
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Teal Take Over: #WearTeal Day

Teal Take Over is a series of posts throughout the month of September that are meant to raise ovarian cancer awareness.  

Each year, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance designates the first Friday of September as Wear Teal Day. Teal is the color of ovarian cancer awareness. This is such an easy way for anyone to get involved with raising ovarian cancer awareness. You simply pledge to wear teal for one day. RSVP to the Facebook event, and then on Friday, September 6, wear teal to show your support for women who have been affected by ovarian cancer.

Take a picture and upload to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc and use the hashtag #WearTeal. OCNA will share the best photos throughout the month. I really hope that all of you will get involved. Share the event with your Facebook friends and encourage them to participate.

Personally, I am wearing as much teal as I can throughout the month. Last year, I got a lot of likes and comments about my outfit. It makes spreading awareness almost effortless. If you would like to participate, but don't own anything teal, it is really easy to find things in stores right now that are teal. It is a very popular color in fashion right now.

Will you be wearing teal this Friday?

Credit - Day 6
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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Survivor Spotlight Sunday: Meet Sandie Bricker

Each Sunday in the month of September, I will spotlight ovarian cancer Survivors. If you or someone you know would like to be spotlighted, please contact me for more information. 

Today, I would like to introduce you to my friend, amazing author and ovarian cancer Survivor, Sandie Bricker. Sandie lives in Florida and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 46. Here is Sandie's story: 

I had just begun researching various types of cancer for a book I was working on when I came across a list of symptoms of ovarian cancer...and realized I had every symptom on the list. I called my doctor and, less than a month later, I was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. HOWEVER, against all of the initial odds, I've now been cancer free for 8 years!

What can we learn from Sandie's story? As women, we have to be aware of the symptoms of this disease. Sandie was diagnosed at stage three... cancer is generally diagnosed in four stages, with stage four being the most progressed. Thankfully, Sandie listened to her symptoms and contacted her doctor. Know the symptoms, and know your body.

Want to connect with Sandie online?
Follow her on Twitter.
Like her Facebook Page
Visit her Website

You will be hearing a lot more about Sandie this week!

The purpose of Survivor Spotlight Sunday is to help tell the stories of ovarian cancer Survivors and to celebrate them and their triumph over cancer. Please leave an encouraging or supportive comment for today's Survivor. 
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