Cancer pink ribbon
Mind Your Body,  Mind Your Thoughts

Cancer and the Power of Positive Thinking Part 2

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“Now I am quietly waiting for 

the catastrophe of my personality 

to seem beautiful again…”-Frank O’Hara

Patience is NOT one of my virtues and because of that, sometimes “ugly” emotions such as anger, worry, and anxiousness obstruct my usually beautiful personality. 

Once again, I repeat, I am a work in progress.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.” Matthew 6:27

The answer is NO. Worrying will Not change the outcome. In certain situations, what will be, will be.

As I waited for my results, I focused on staying positive.

The Power of Positivity

Positive Vibes

According to Dr. Noulas, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health in New York City, “Positive thinking is all about having an open, optimistic viewpoint. It’s the idea of seeing the silver lining on a bad day.”

In every difficult situation an optimist will look for the good. When something goes wrong, they determine what lesson or knowledge can be drawn from the situation. 

Furthermore, optimists don’t get easily upset, nor do they look at where they can lay blame. They control their emotions and look at things logically. 

 If you change your way of thinking and align it with optimists, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel happier. 

While it’s easy to think of optimistic people as unrealistic and fake, shifting your mindset can lead to real health benefits and boost your overall well-being.

People who are positive have been found to be better at problem-solving, dealing with setbacks, and more resilient (Jen Doll, “The Power of Positivity,”  Health.com).

Here are other ways positive thinking can improve our life:

Enhances Motivation: Willpower and motivation come from a strong mind. Negative thoughts lead to negative actions. When you replace pessimism with optimism, you reshape your outlook. 

Builds Strong Relationships: Happiness attracts happiness, thus happy people attract people who are happy. If you surround yourself with negativity, you will usually attract negativity.  Moreover, positivity breeds trust, which builds strong relationships. Without trust, relationships cannot survive. 

Improves Confidence: Negativity spreads and can impact other attributes, such as self-esteem and confidence. The key to leading a happy life is loving yourself. Optimists laugh louder, love harder, and walk taller. They glow. 

Creates Strong Mind & Body: Negative thoughts are draining and can have a severe impact on your mental health. They can leave you struggling to get up in the morning and inhibit your ability to sleep. Fatigue leads to weakness, sadness, and a lack of motivation. Therefore, negativity takes a toll on your whole body.

Eases Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety: Anybody suffering from symptoms of depression and anxiety will know just how difficult it can make your life. Any relief that you can get from the symptoms that come with depression and anxiety are always very much appreciated, and positive thinking can help you with this. While it is difficult to imagine how you can think positive while you are suffering from symptoms of depression and anxiety, working with your doctor, therapist and being kind to yourself can all help to improve your life and think more positively.

Increases Your Chances in the Workplace:  It is becoming increasingly more obvious that positive people do better in the workplace. They often get promotions faster, are offered more opportunities, and build great relationships that last both in the office and long afterwards. Not only does a positive attitude put you at the top of the list when you go for job interviews, but you are also more likely to succeed and last within a company if you are positive.

Helps You to Help Others: Being able to help others brings with it an incredible sense of self-worth and value, which adds to our feelings of positivity and hopefulness. When you help other people, either by asking them feel happier or by showing them how they can practice positive thoughts, you’ll creating a win-win situation that will enrich the lives of both you and them.

As you can see, positive thinking can help us in a variety of ways, from our own personal development, to our health and even the health and well-being of those around us.

Anyone can infuse positivity into their lives. The power of positive thinking may seem a bit cliché, but it really does wonders for your self-esteem, overall mood, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.

When Dr. Richard J. Davidson, the director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison “did MRI scans of the brains of people who’d been practicing compassion meditation for two weeks for just 30 minutes a day, they notice stronger connections in a key brain circuit that regulates positive emotion.” 

However, Jen Doll declares that “you can’t just wake up and decide you’re going to be positive. You need to practice summoning those feelings” (Health, March 2019).

Meditation and Positive Thinking

Here are 12 ways that can help you approach life with a more positive viewpoint.

1. Turn failures into lessons

Acknowledging that no one is perfect puts things into perspective. You’re going to make mistakes. But instead of focusing on your failure, break down what went wrong so you can learn from it. So you can use it to your advantage.

An article by author Paul Sloane published by Lifehack.org recommends looking at potential challenges or setbacks as opportunities to go in another direction.

We tend to look at where we are as the culmination of a lot of hard work, and so when things don’t go our way, we feel like that work was for nothing.

In many cases, however, our achievements can be the result of hard work without being the culmination of hard work, and what we thought was our best, can really be a stepping stone to what lies ahead.

2. Find positive friends

Surrounding yourself with people who are grounded and upbeat helps you maintain a positive outlook. 

Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Gregory Jantz wrote that it is difficult for us to be positive when we are surrounded by negative people. That includes people who practice negativity as well as people who somehow bring out the negativity in us.

Dr. Jantz doesn’t necessarily say that we need to remove these people from our lives forever, just while we’re first learning to become more positive. Kind of like how people who are quitting smoking find it hard to be around smokers for the first few weeks, but later they’re eventually become okay around other smokers again.

Positivity, as is negativity, is contagious. So, choose your friends wisely.

3. Be thankful/grateful

Each night before going to bed, write down 3 things you’re grateful for. It may be as small as a great cup of coffee or something bigger as getting your work done on time. Make it a habit and you’ll soon realize it’s become part of your daily routine.

 Similarly, whether you’re religious or not, acknowledging the things that you are grateful for every day can help to hardwire your brain to notice the positive things more quickly.

4. Assess what you’d like to change

This could be hard to do at first and may require several attempts, but it gets results and you’ll feel empowered. Maybe your job is ill-fitting and fills your life with negativity. You may want to do something else, but fear is holding you back. Maybe it’s your car, your apartment, the color of your walls – many things can be affecting the level of negativity in your life and once you put your finger on it, you can consciously change it for the better. (Here is a link to a self-assessment.)

5. Start your day with positive affirmations

Begin your day on a high note by recognizing the good things that can happen throughout your day. Pessimists tend to start their day worrying and thinking about all that can go wrong. This makes you see everything in a negative light and causes a series of unfortunate events like a domino effect.

6. Be Aware of and Stop the flow of negative thoughts

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention, usually to your breath or your thoughts. Mindful breathing is often used to control stress, but mindful thinking can lead to a more positive life. We tend to take our thoughts for granted and allow them to run on autopilot, not realizing they can still make a difference in our disposition.

Speaking to The Huffington Post, Dr. Joffrey Suprina  explained that when we pay more attention to what thoughts we’re actually having throughout the day, it can be easier to shake off the negative thoughts and focus on the positive. 

Conversely, the staff at The Mayo Clinic points out that just like our thoughts can upset us when we don’t notice them, we also purposely introduce thoughts that make ourselves feel better. Trying to replace negative thoughts from our subconscious with positive thoughts from our conscious mind can be a very valuable tool (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).

Ignoring the negative isn’t thinking positively. Thinking positively is about making the best out of the worst that life gives us.

To do this, you may need lots of practice at first, but be patient and make the effort. Observe your thought patterns. You can do this by taking down notes every time you focus on the negative. Each time you feel negative self-talk creeping up by being overly critical or judgmental, or focusing only on your failures, write down a positive affirmation to counter each negative thought. 

7. Find something you love to do

Hobbies are something we don’t hear of too much these days since we’re all so busy. But taking the time to engage in something you’re good at and actually enjoy fills you with a sense of joy and fulfillment.

8. Live a healthy lifestyle

Eat right, exercise regularly and you’ll see a definite boost in your mood. Plus, you’ll feel more confident and this helps you see things in a brighter, more positive light.

9. Practice makes perfect

Once again, reinforcing positive living requires practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll be at it. Then, one day when you’re in the midst of a crisis, you’ll find that the first thing that comes to your mind is not what can go wrong, but how can I use my strengths to overcome this adversity.

10. Spread some kindness

One of the most powerful strategies to promote your own positivity, is to be generous toward other people.

A 2016 study found that performing acts of kindness was even more effective at boosting happiness than simply treating oneself. The more we are helpful to others, the better we feel about ourselves.

Noulas says, “Rather than waiting for good or positivity to come to you, take the initiative and create it for those around you. Then enjoy the ripple effect that unfurls as a results.”

11. Smile

For a quick dose of positivity, try cracking a simile.

A 2012 study conducted at the University of Kansas found that smiling which signals the brain to release ‘feel good’ hormones. This reduces stress levels.

Similar to laughing, smiling is contagious. It has the ability to slowly shift your mood to a more positive place.

12. Take care of you

You can’t be positive without also understanding how to deal with the negative. Self-compassion helps you navigate the parts of life that aren’t so positive like health problems and professional failures.

But let’s be realistic. Sometimes it’s okay to be angry, sad, afraid, etc., but don’t live in that space. This is where positivity comes in. Become aware of the negativity triggers and reach into your ‘bag of tricks’ to help yourself get out of that horrible place in your mind.

Those negative thoughts and feeling will 

  • make it harder for you to enjoy the little things in life
  • make things seem even worse than they actually are
  • set you up for failure even before you try.

The bottom line is no one said life was going to be easy, but it’s up to us to decide what attitude we’ll have when coming out on the other side.

My Results

Cancer pink ribbon

I was super nervous as I waited for my name to be called to see the doctor. I must commend myself for not allowing the possibility of having breast cancer consume me. I was enjoying my family who was visiting from Barbados and appreciating the fact that I was able to spend more time with my husband. 

I concluded that some things are out of my control, and the only thing I can do is be as prepared as possible. 

“Racquel, how are you? You can come back to waiting room 7. Undress from the waist up and put on this gown. The doctor will be with you in a few minutes,” the nurse said.

Being the person that I am, I tried to gauge how the nurse talked to and looked at me.

Did she sound sympathetic?

Did she have pity in her eyes?

As I waited some more, I heard my doctor and the nurse joking around. 

“Hmm. That may be a good sign,” I thought.

On second thought, it was the last work day before the holidays, and that would put anybody in a good mood except for someone who maybe facing a health crisis.

The door opened and the doctor walked in with a file in his hand.

My file.

What did it say?

Cancer?

Stage 1? Stage 2?

Had it metastasized?

My mind was in overdrive.

My doctor proceeded to look at and discuss the 3 inch incision on my left breast to see whether it was healing properly.

At that time, I could have cared less.

“Well, Racquel, YOU DON’T HAVE BREAST CANCER.”

He continued by saying, “That’s all you wanted to know?”

I slowly responded to the doctor with, “You are right about that, doctor.”

A sigh of relief rolled over my body as I exhaled “Thank you, Jesus!”

With an appointment to have another mammogram in a few months, I left the doctor’s office with a new found respect for those who were going through any devastating health issue. I said a prayer for them.

The Following Week…

I know this may be hard to believe, and I am not making this up in order to end this post in a dramatic fashion, but a week later, someone from my OB/GYN office called me, and said, “Racquel, there was a problem….”

I didn’t hear anything else after the word “problem.” 

“I can’t believe it! Here we go again,” I pondered as the nurse continued to talk.

My heart started to beat fast. Anxiety was quickly trying to take over.

At this time, I hadn’t fully come to terms that I didn’t have breast cancer; so, my mind was still in fear response mode.

Before I allowed my mind to conjure up every possible cancer scenario, such as ovarian and cervical, I asked the nurse to repeat what she just said.

Let’s just say that the lab wasn’t able to run all required tests, and I will need to have a repeat Pap examination next year. 

I thought, “Thank goodness. I can deal with that.”

Cancer of any kind is an ugly disease.

I can remember my father, within six months dwindling down from a strong 230+ pound active man with a great sense of humor who loved singing, going to church, fishing, cars, and flea markets, to a frail shell of his former self. His esophagus was removed and replaced with a trach. The gravity and the power of this disease were apparent when my father said he preferred death over the excruciating pain he endured daily. I saw the scarring on his neck from the aggressive radiation treatments that did no good. It remotely prolonged the inevitable. The tumor continued to come back like a relentless stalker.

My father died five months after being diagnosed.

My father didn’t smoke a day in his life. 

I know when I thought I had breast cancer, I felt as if I had done something wrong. I rationalized that I try to eat healthy, and I exercise at least 30 minutes 5-6 days a week. Additionally, I try to keep my stress levels down.

Sometimes, those things aren’t enough to keep cancer at bay. 

Research indicates that the lifetime probability of being diagnosed with cancer is 39.3% for men and 37.7% for women, which is a little more than 1 in 3.

22% of deaths in the US in 2016 were from cancer, making it the second leading cause of death after heart disease in both men and women. (Cancer.org)

According to the studies, a total of 1,735,350 new cases of cancer and 609,640 deaths were predicted for the year 2018 (National Cancer Institute).

Hence, one of the greatest concerns America has today is cancer. It has a fearsome reputation. Not without reason either. It is a disease that has not yet fully yielded to the skills and intelligence of medical scientists and doctors. And, as if the pain from the disease is not enough, the treatment for cancer, too, inflicts heavy suffering on the body.

“As the overall cancer death rate has declined, the number of cancer survivors has increased. These trends show that progress is being made against the disease, but much work remains. Although rates of smoking, a major cause of cancer, have declined, the U.S. population is aging, and cancer rates increase with age. Obesity, another risk factor for cancer, is also increasing” (National Cancer Institute).

Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled and abnormal cell division. This could happen anywhere in the body and some tumors are benign while others are malignant. Cancer spreads in the body and destroys tissues when the cancer cells travel through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system. The runaway growth of cells is caused by mutations to the DNA in the cells that makes the cells unable to control cell division. This mutation can either be inherited or acquired. The mortality rate in cancer depends on the type of cancer and where it develops. 

Since early detection is a big factor in treatment, it is good to be aware of the signs of this disease. Most cancers have different symptoms, but to give you an idea, symptoms can include:

  • A lump in the breast or testicles
  • A change in the skin, a wart or a mole
  • Persistent sore throat that doesn’t heal
  • A significant change in bladder and bowel movements
  • Coughing blood or a persistent cough that won’t stop
  • Indigestion and trouble swallowing
  • Unusual bleeding or vaginal discharge
  • Chronic fatigue

Be conscience that early cancer usually does not manifest itself in any outward signs; so, the only way it can be detected is to undergo health checks. Screenings are quite often lifesaving as problems can be nipped in the bud.  In other words, many cancers are curable if detected in the early stages. 

Bare in mind that many of the above listed symptoms can be from other illnesses which are not as serious as cancer. However, if you are ever faced with any of the symptoms, it might be a good idea to see your family physician right away.

In depth information on cancer, prevention, cures, treatment, counseling and more can be found at: http://www.thecancer.net, http://www.cancer.org,  and http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics.

Cancer Fighting Foods

Cancer and Healthy Lifestyle

Far too many lives are negatively impacted or taken too soon by a wide variety of dangerous and relentless cancers. Scientists are hard at work trying to discover the cure to this deadly disease and all its different varieties.

But in the meantime, is there anything we can do differently in reference to our diets to prevent cancer? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking giant strides in the field of cancer prevention and control. They advocate adoption of a healthy lifestyle, eating nutritious and well balanced food along with regular health checks and screening for cancer. 

Diet is well known to play a key role in so many aspects of both good and bad health. Nutrients from food are used by the body for countless internal process, energy, healthy immunity, and brain health. Nutrients are also essential for avoiding disease, including heart disease, the common cold, and even cancer.

Research has shown that eating a health, balanced diet with fruits and vegetables can help in all aspects of maintaining good health. Healthy, fresh, whole natural foods not only contribute to good health, but can also heal and restore balance in our bodies. 

Conversely, eating junk and processed food can actually do the opposite by depriving the body of the nutrition it needs to function at its best and to maintain optimal immunity in order to fight disease.

There are even some specific foods that are considered cancer-fighting powerhouses. Perhaps they are already a part of your diet, but if they are not, now is a great time to start incorporating them.

  1. Tomatoes: Lycopene, also found in watermelon and pink grapefruit, has been linked to lower risk of prostate, ovarian and cervical cancer. It also targets the free radical that is implicated in lung and digestive cancers. 
  2. Broccoli sprouts: One forkful triggers a cascade of antioxidant activity that lasts for days. 
  3. Berries: Blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes – all rich in anthocyanins that repair and protect DNA.
  4. Soybeans: Isoflavones such as genistein may help prevent and treat prostate cancer and may reduce breast cancer risk
  5. Tea: Both black and green contain powerful compounds shown in countless studies to lower the risk of several types of cancer. 
  6. Pumpkin: This unsung super-food is a super-rich source of both beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, two hard-working carotenoids that combat lung and ovarian cancer. 
  7. Spinach: Popeye’s favorite may help ward off cancers of the liver, ovaries, colon and prostate. The active antioxidant lutein is also found in kale and other leafy greens.
  8. Garlic: Allium veggies (which also include onions and scallions) work to get your body’s own antioxidant defense systems in gear. This process provides protective benefits against stomach, esophageal and breast cancers. 
  9. Pineapple: The enzyme bromelain may inhibit the growth of malignant cells in both lung and breast cancer, while the phenolic compounds also provide a protective benefit. 
  10. Apples: Can one a day help keep cancer at bay? Studies show quercetin may reduce the risk of lung cancer and impede growth of prostate cancer cells. Other antioxidants together with pectin help halt colon and liver cancer cell replication.

Moreover, according to an article in Prevention magazine, “a new study shows that a diet rich in plant compounds called flavonoids-found in fruits and vegetables like oranges, grapes, and spinach-helps protect against a deadly form of prostate cancer” (January 2013). 

Furthermore, “Flavonoids act as antioxidants, which help eliminate cancer-promoting free radicals; they help decrease inflammation, which is likely cancer causing; and they have antiproliferative properties, meaning they help stop or slow cancer cells from growing and multiplying, says Thomas J. Guzzo, MD. (Prevention, January 2013). Dr. Guzzo also suggests eating tomatoes and watermelon which are rich in lycopene and has a similar anticancer effect.

Alternative Medicines for Cancer

(Disclaimer: I am Not a medical professional. Please check with your doctor and do your due diligence.This is for informational purposes only! See my full disclosure on my legal page.)

I know how powerless it feels not knowing what the future holds. I had so many questions when I was told my mammogram showed findings that were suspicious for malignancy. As I searched for information on cancer treatments, I was shocked to find that so many alternative cancer treatments is lost to public knowledge.

Whether you’re looking to find out more about alternative cancer treatments for yourself or on behalf of a loved one, you and your loved one must make up your minds if alternative cancer treatments are worth using with other well-known treatments or when all other avenues have been exhausted. 

Regardless, I sincerely urge you to own your health and not exclusively hand it over to someone else to own. There’s no one on the face of the earth with more interest in your well-being than you.  You must take control of your own health as much as you can and not leave it only to others.

This is exactly what Joe Tippens did along with having a positive attitude. In his blog, https://www.mycancerstory.rocks/, he highlights his experience using alternative medicines to treat lung cancer that metastasized. He is a testament to the impact of positive thinking during the wake of adversity. From his research, Joe noted that he had a <1% survivability and a life expectancy of 3 months.

But he rallied, “Attitude is Everything had always been my mantra. It seems that the more troublesome an event or challenge I’ve faced, my natural defense mechanism (that I attribute to my parents, siblings and friends) is to use positive thinking as the kick starter and humor as the mechanism to power through the adversity” (Joe Tippens)

From the moment Joe started his treatment, he made three promises:

*First, he promised to be absolutely positive regardless of the short term challenges he faced, and

*Second, he promised to let his prayer posse take over and believe in the power of prayer, and

*Third, he promised to make at least one person in the hospital laugh every day.

You see evidence of these promises throughout his blog. Please read it. It’s educational and inspiring.

More Alternative Medicines for Cancer

There is an alternative medicine for breast cancer called BreastDefend which is a botanical supplement made of mushrooms, herbs, and a natural compound derived from cruciferous vegetables. You can read more about the study done at the Indian University here: BreastDefend and BreastDefend Research

Other alternative medicines worth researching are Moringa, the herb that act as anti-cancer agent by decreasing cell proliferation, and Cannabis a treatment for people with cancer-related symptoms.

The Power of Positive Thinking and Cancer

Cancer and Positive Thinking

“I didn’t let cancer take everything away.”

This is a quote from one of the four breast cancer survivors profiled in October 2019 issue of Health magazine. Graced with a positive mindset and the will to survive, their cancer ordeal helped reshape their lives. Here are some lessons that we can learn from their stories:

  1. Self care is more important than you realize .
  2. Diet and exercise are paramount for mental and physical health.
  3. Helping others helps you also.
  4. Don’t overlook you mental health.
  5. Re-evaluate your life. Are you living a fulfilled life?
  6. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Teaching us similar lessons, Kris Carr, a wellness guru, an author, and owner of Crazy Sexy Kris blog, “read cancer the riot act” with positive thinking. In 2003, scans of her liver revealed a number of cancerous tumors with additional lesions on her lungs. She was diagnosed with epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, “a rare sarcoma affecting the lining of the blood vessels in Carr’s liver and lungs-inoperable, incurable, with no established treatment protocol” (Prevention, February 2013).

Carr’s story is an example of how healthy eating and positivity can be a catalyst for fighting cancer.

Carr’s inspiration story includes how she reframed her thoughts to prevent fear from taking up residence in her mind.

 “Is fear a fact or a feeling?”

She says, “most of us shy away from what scares us” because it creates anxiety. Similar to any emotion, anxiety is a state of mind. Carr says, for her, “it’s been all about the power of the mind, of confronting what scares me and learning to make peace with things.” She continues by saying, “Facing your fears is the only way you can understand your true power.”

“Living is not about waiting for the right time.”

“We often put our lives on hold; we press pause every day in so many ways. Cancer taught me not to do that-to just say…’go for it,’” Carr stated.

Also, Carr suggests we should constantly ask ourselves: Does this make me happy? Am I truly living?” 

These questions sound familiar because they are the same ones I asked myself and you should, too.

In summary Carr states:

“When you change your mind, you change your life. That’s a fact.” 

I couldn’t agree more. I am a living witness, which is the reason why my blog and life coaching are all about having and achieving a positive mindset.

Nevertheless, we can be the most positive person in the world, we still should realize that cancer has no respect for gender, age or wealth. It doesn’t matter what race, ethnicity, class, or religion. Anyone can become a cancer victim. 

One can not bear witness to the incredible courage of those who have cancer without being deeply affected. Sometimes, their journey is filled with helplessness, despair, and fear of the unknown. Hence, they are united in their suffering-fellow human beings on the same sad journey.

But for those who think positively, the journey can be filled with hope, courage, determination, peace, gratitude, and resolve.

The lesson to be learned is although our heart and mind may be struggling, choosing to listen to our positive voice becomes a balm to our soul, and it refreshes our spirits causing hope to conquer fear. 

So,  I leave you with these encouraging quotes:

“You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.”

“We all have an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test.”~Isabel Allende

“Life is a circle of happiness, sadness, hard times, and good times. If you are going through hard times, have faith that good times are on the way.”~lessonlearnedinlife.com

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”John 14:27 (KJV)

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

And in conclusion:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 (ESV). “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1(NLT). “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2Timothy 4:7 (NIV)

What are your thoughts on positive thinking in the mist of a crisis?

You may find Part 1 of this post here.

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