Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Blog

What Valentine’s Day Means To Us – A Legacy of Love

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 2:43 am February 14, 2018

January 24th marked seven years since Liam Witt’s battle with cancer came to an end. On Valentine’s Day 2011, more than 1,000 people gathered at a cathedral in New York City to celebrate the life of Liam Witt, the inspiration behind the Good Cookie movement. While cancer cut his life short, Liam’s LOVE for people, for living, and for life has become his true, enduring legacy.

Liam Witt

Love Inspired Action…

Just 2 ½-years-old when diagnosed, Liam’s parents, Larry and Gretchen Witt, quickly learned of the lack of treatment options for pediatric cancers.  When his oncologist shared, “It’s not science that’s holding us back, it’s funding,” they knew they had to take action. But first, Liam had to be ushered through months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Throughout the process, his bravery and compassion continued to inspire his parents. When he was declared to have no evidence of disease, they began to think of how to help other children.

The 2007 holiday season was approaching as Gretchen and Larry thought of ways to raise funds for a promising new treatment. They realized they needed something so sweet and comforting that it would conquer the fear associated with pediatric cancer. The answer? Cookies. With the help of 250 volunteers, Gretchen and Larry baked and sold 96,000 cookies – in person, online, any way possible – to raise funds. That original “bake sale” raised more than $420,000. Before long, people began reaching out asking, “What can I do to help?”

Photo Jan 24, 2 35 06 PM

A Transcending Love…

Reaching far beyond his family, Liam’s love knew no boundaries. Though he battled cancer off and on for nearly four years, he had special relationships with everyone he encountered, from doctors, nurses and teachers, to the firefighters of Engine 1/Ladder 24, the station he passed on his way home from school or treatments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

He called the firefighters his “guys,” and made sure they all knew he loved them. And they weren’t afraid to show their love in return. In their station, they gave Liam his own locker, suit and helmet. On January 24, 2011, Liam’s battle came to an end. Suddenly, the numbers of his beloved Engine 1/Ladder 24 took on a special meaning.

For his Valentine’s Day memorial service,  an entire street in New York City was closed off as Liam’s “guys” honored him with a hero’s farewell. The message that day was to Love Like Liam. Today, his locker at the firehouse still serves as a reminder of that message.

- Liam Witt gets a hero s farewell YouTube

A Legacy of Love…

Liam’s love continues to inspire us and people everywhere. Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has granted nearly $15 million, funding 100 research projects, including 37 that are now treatments available for children battling cancer TODAY. 

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer isn’t just about Liam. It’s not about one type of cancer. It’s about every child, everywhere. Every child deserves a fighting chance. As long as there are treatments sitting on shelves waiting for funding, we’ll be fighting to move them forward. This year, we hope you’ll be inspired to join us in sharing the love. To learn more about how you can Be a Good Cookie and help fund new, improved, and less toxic treatments for childhood cancer, visit www.cookiesforkidscancer.org

Hillary Waldeisen, Good Cookie since 2013 

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 10:24 pm February 7, 2018
“I did my first fundraising event for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in 2013. I got involved with Cookies because I appreciated the fact that not only do they support all pediatric cancer diagnoses, they utilize every dollar to the fullest. These were both very important things for me as I learned how underfunded research was once Lucy was diagnosed. I wanted to do something to change that and decided partnering with Cookies was a good match. When Lucy was first diagnosed in 2009, our friends did multiple fundraisers for our family, one of which was a Dodgeball Tournament. I figured it was a fun event, something that was unique for our community, and something many could participate in. It was a big success the first time and so I hoped it would be when I started doing it for Cookies. And I was right.
 
Our community loves the event and supporting our kids with cancer. The support means more to me than I can express in words. Not only the support our family received when Lucy was diagnosed, but the support for our cause. People want to be part of something that is meaningful, and I feel like this has been a venue for people for years now. A piece of advice for other Cookies supporters: utilize the connections and staff at Cookies, as that is what they want! I didn’t utilize for quite a few years and it caused a lot of headache and extra work on my part. I appreciate the support I have received and that has been offered to me.” – Hillary Waldeisen, Good Cookie since 2013 
To learn more about our mission and all of the ways you can ‘Be a Good Cookie’, visit cookiesforkidscancer.org!

Sharing the Love with L’Oréal

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 3:40 pm February 5, 2018

On Valentine’s Day 2012, for the first time ever, the passionate employees of L’Oréal began a tradition of hosting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sales at offices across the country. They were inspired by their most recent L’Oréal Woman of Worth – the 2011 National honoree Gretchen Witt who was recognized for her commitment to funding new, less toxic therapies for children battling cancer. That first year, 11 L’Oréal offices hosted bake sales. Since then, the total has grown to 50 bake sales in 25 different offices from California to New Jersey. And the funds raised now total nearly $75,000.

In December, Gretchen was once again honored by L’Oréal when she was given the Karen T. Fondu Impact Award. And that moment – combined with the kick off of our 10th anniversary year throughout 2018 – made this partnership even more special.

And now, the Good Cookies of L’Oréal are rolling up their sleeves again to continue the support over the last seven years by hosting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer events this February! Together, we can make February a month full of community, gratitude, and HOPE for kids battling cancer. THANK YOU, L’Oréal Good Cookies!

To learn more about our mission and all of the ways you can ‘Be a Good Cookie’, visit cookiesforkidscancer.org!

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in Simon Malls!

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 8:03 pm February 2, 2018

Check out the following Simon Mall locations to see #Cookies4Kids in the spotlight!

Didn’t see a location near you? You can still give back by sending cookies in honor of ‘Tough Cookies’ everywhere who are battling, or have battled cancer. As always, 100% of proceeds from each box sold directly benefits promising childhood cancer research. What could be sweeter? Click here to order special cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Ananian, Good Cookie Since 2008

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 8:47 pm January 30, 2018

“My favorite memories of the bake sales are really just how amazing it is that every year the community pulls together to help us out with this awesome event.  I never have to worry about having enough bakers or enough people and kids to pull the wagons every year.  Everyone just shows up. They all want to be a part of something that is so meaningful and worthwhile. It’s really become a community wide event and people around here know and love to support Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Every year we have people who come to the event and remember us year to year…this year will be out 8th year raising money at the local tournament in town and we plan to continue it for as long as the tournament is around.

It’s because of Cookies that I have an opportunity to do something that makes us feel so fulfilled. Once, my sister was tirelessly walking the lacrosse fields in the heat holding a picture of Gretchen and Liam asking for donations in exchange for baked goods… and Gretchen shows up at the event! My whole family has really gotten behind us in our support of CFKC. Not just my kids, but my sister and her family, my Parents, my cousin, my Aunt.  They show up every year without fail! It’s a long exhausting weekend in the sun and heat but no one backs away.”

 – Sue Ananian, Good Cookie since 2008

Thanksgiving To Us

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 3:41 pm November 23, 2017

It was 10 years ago this week that my husband Larry shared this message on Thanksgiving day from our family.

It is impossible to believe how much has changed in the time since – and how much remains the same. The most glaring change from that day: we are facing our 7th Thanksgiving without the physical presence of our Liam. That seems unimaginable – unfathomable – and impossible that we’ve survived this long with such broken hearts. But his spirit is with us each and every day. We feel it in the moments of meeting someone new, of discovering beauty in nature, of learning something we knew nothing about before. His spirit carries us through the darkest moments and reminds us of life’s simplest joys. We remain thankful for these gifts.

As Larry describes in the post, Ella’s joy and love continue to carry us forward as she blossoms into a young woman we are both delighted to know and proud to call our own. Her passion for horses – born out of the recommendation of a grief counselor back in 2011 to help her reckon with the loss of her brother – is a love we will follow wherever it takes, from weekend rides to national competitions.

But the thing that most strikingly remains the same ten years later is our call to action. We had no idea on that Thanksgiving 10 years ago that we would go on to launch a national non-profit, bearing the same name as that holiday cookie drive. We had no idea at that moment that our dream to sell all our cookies that holiday would exceed all expectations. And we had no idea of the support that would come from YOU – those reading this post right now – in the decade since that has led to nearly $15 million in research funding (and counting).

Despite heartbreak and loss, we remain thankful – for you, for your support, for your love of Liam and our family, and most importantly for your shared love of ALL children of the world. And, inspired by your support, we remain laser focused on doing all we can to raise awareness and funds for new research to help beat back the #1 disease killer of children in our country. But we cannot do this alone. We still ask – go to our website, still www.cookiesforkidscancer.org to send cookies OR to register to host an event this holiday season. We ask that you give in honor of all the children – both the healthy ones you know and the ones fighting for their lives in battles they shouldn’t face.

We have so much to share – so much lies ahead for the organization and for research. And we wouldn’t want to do it without you by our sides.

With gratitude and hope,

Gretchen, Larry, Ella & always in the spirit of Liam

New Clinical Trial Gives Hope to Children Battling Cancer: Cole’s Story

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 3:41 pm September 19, 2017

Carol Winnefeld courageously shares the story of her son Cole, and his battle with neuroblastoma.

Cole was born a very happy, energetic little boy – however, all that changed when at the age of five, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.  Neuroblastoma is a nerve cell cancer that attacks the sympathetic nervous system, and on that April afternoon, our lives took a drastic turn from normal.

Upon diagnosis, Cole had a mass on his adrenal gland, along with lesions on his bones and bone marrow.  We started him on a standard therapy, only to disappointingly realize that it wasn’t attacking the cancer well—it might have been slowing it down, but no real progress was being made.  That’s when we realized that we needed to get him to a treatment center that specialized in his type of, hard to treat, cancer.

He had stubborn disease that never really succumbed to any therapies, it would lie dormant for months or even years, only to rear its ugly head and make us switch up treatment.  It was learning where and how to attack.  He went through at least fifteen clinical trials in his six and a half year cancer battle, but we never got a great handle on his disease.  He had multiple doses of toxic chemotherapy, radiation therapies, antibody therapies.  He had so much toxic therapies that we had to make the choice to stop one and start another, so as not to do any permanent damage to his growing body.  Just when we thought we might have found another new therapy, the disease took hold and Cole passed away at the age of eleven.  We ran out of time.  We don’t want another child to run out of time—we owe it to Cole to make sure other kids have a chance to fight this horrendous disease.

We must keep funding trials—the science is available, but the funding is not. Cole’s life might have been spared if had received the therapies that are on the horizon… but his fight won’t be in vain- please help fund kids’ cancer trials and help kids like Cole.

To learn more about the phase 1 clinical trial, funded in part by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, available this month for kids just like Cole, click here. To donate to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to fund research into new, innovative treatments for the #1 disease killer of kids in the U.S., click here. To send Cole’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (with FREE Shipping all September) in honor of him, click here.

(photos: Tough Cookie Cole & Cole’s Chocolate Chip Cookies)

New Clinical Trial Gives Hope to Children Battling Cancer: Aidan’s Story

Filed under: childhood cancer research,kids fighting cancer — Tags: , — The Good Cookies @ 11:04 am September 12, 2017

Michele Brown courageously shares her son’s story and his fight with neuroblastoma.

March 17, 2010 was the last day of before. Before Cancer. Before our new normal.

We had piggybacked our boys from their beds to breakfast. This was our fun way of getting them up early and off to school. Like usual, we flopped Aidan onto the couch, but this day he cried out in pain and told us that his “weak leg” hurt.

After two months of numerous visits to the pediatrician, orthopedist, rheumatologist, infectious disease doctor and emergency room, we heard the words that marked time. There was then and now, before and after. Our beautiful boy was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma just days before his fifth birthday. The large tumor wrapped around his left kidney had already metastasized to the bones in his weak leg and three other spots before we knew anything was wrong.  When Aidan relapsed in June of 2014 we had finally exhaled. Aidan had just finished a great year in the 2nd grade. He was playing soccer and basketball. The light in his eyes, his energy, and his auburn hair were back. The first time around we knew something was wrong.  He had fevers and pain. This time we were blindsided. We believed we had beaten the odds, but instead we ended up in an even worse statistical cesspool.

The first time, Aidan endured three surgeries, seven rounds of chemotherapy, a stem-cell transplant, five rounds of immunotherapy, 12 proton radiation treatments and about 150 days in the hospital. It was hell. No words describe the pain, damage done, innocence lost, the changes in the family and sibling dynamics, the weight of every decision, the suffering, or the fear. Yet, there was a plan for treatment and cautious optimism from the medical community. So we persevered. We learned how to let others support us. We questioned but clung to our faith. We cried every day but remained determined to learn life’s lessons: make each day count, find joy and something to be grateful for, take it one day at a time. We struggled to hold onto a job, deal with the insurance companies, understand medical jargon and drug side effects, take care of big-brother Alex, help Aidan through horrific treatments, and keep ourselves from falling into a pit of despair.

The second time there was no protocol to follow. Our local children’s hospital and our compassionate doctor had nothing to offer but more radiation and a clinical trial that involved chemo treatments. They were scheduled one week on, followed by two weeks off, until they “stopped working.” There was little hope to be found anywhere. Our schedule became the continuous loop of: our family being torn apart, Aidan being sick in the hospital from treatment, coming home and helping Aidan recover, having one good week, and then back to the hospital. We were devastated. Then, we read an article about a vaccine getting orphan drug status. The Trivalent B Vaccine was being offered at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and this promising new drug was funded by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

We flew back and forth to NYC to get Aidan the series of seven vaccines. It was a hassle to get to NY but we returned home thankful to have our family together and able to sleep in our own beds, under one roof, on most nights. Aidan had a sore leg and welt at the injection site but he wasn’t nauseous and not eating. After each treatment, his immune system grew stronger, instead of weaker. Best of all, we had hope. Children with cancer, their parents, their big-brothers and everyone around them need hope. New cancer drugs mean hope — hope for a longer life, a better quality of life or maybe even a cure.

We know first-hand the difference new research and new drugs can make. We live with a miracle. Aidan recently celebrated his 12th birthday. His scans remain clear. Once again, he is happy and healthy, playing basketball and soccer. He earned straight A’s in school and he plays the violin. He is amazing. We can’t let our minds think about what our lives would look like if Cookies for Kids’ Cancer hadn’t funded that vaccine. We pray we never need the future drugs they will fund.

We try our best to fight back our fears, live in the moment, and recognize that we have been given a gift and that the future is uncertain for everyone. We will spend our lives grateful to Gretchen Holt-Witt and the staff who work tirelessly to help bring new treatment options to the most innocent victims. Thank you to everyone who supports Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and their research.

If you have ever wondered how you can help or what you can do, please give to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. You can give more families, like ours, much-needed hope.

New Clinical Trial Gives Hope to Children Battling Cancer: Christopher’s Story

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 8:02 pm September 5, 2017

Jackie Thorne courageously shares the story of her son Christopher and his battle with neuroblastoma.

My second son Christopher was such a happy adventurous boy.  When he was five months old, in October 2011, he got really sick. Just out of nowhere my fun loving, high-energy boy was just laying down all day with a high fever and it really scared me. I took him straight to the doctor’s office where we stayed all day with them trying to figure out what was going on. Finally they decided to admit him to the hospital for observation because they just weren’t sure why his fever wasn’t coming down. It turns out he had strep that went septic. I thought this was the worst thing that I could ever experience as a mom. We were in the hospital for three weeks, in the intensive care unit for part of it, and he had to have three surgeries. Christopher was finally discharged after Halloween with orders to follow infectious disease doctors. Yay! Wonderful news, I was so ready to put that horrible ordeal behind us, little did I know what was about to happen just a few weeks later.

After we got discharged we had follow up appointments with the infectious disease doctor, just to make sure all his levels were down and he was on the mend. Well, one of his numbers that showed inflammation was going back up so the doctor ordered an ultrasound of his stomach to see. He said if he got worse to bring him back in ASAP. Over the weekend, Christopher developed a large bump on the side by his eye. It was pushing his eye, causing it to bulge forward. The day before nothing was there, and the next morning there was what looked like a large goose egg on the side of his head.

I was stunned and I rushed him to the hospital because I thought the infection was back. When he was dealing with the strep he also had cellulitis around that same eye. We got to the emergency room and they almost immediately took him for a CAT scan. Afterward, the nurses were acting funny with me and wouldn’t tell me much, aside from that they were admitting him. Eventually, somebody told me an oncologist would be meeting with us. I sat there thinking, “What does an oncologist have to do with strep? Surely he can’t have cancer on top of having some random septic strep infection. How can we have two unrelated sicknesses back to back?” I thought they were wrong and it was just the infection. Dr. Jacobsen met with us that night and the next day he had a neurosurgeon do a biopsy. Through all of this, I was in some kind of denial. I was adamant they were wrong, the biopsy would show them it’s just more strep infection, I thought.

After the surgery they called us into this small little hospital room and told us with 100% certainty that it was neuroblastoma. They told us that we had to wait for all of the other testing, but they were sure. Everything just stopped. I thought the worse was a three week hospital stay. I had no idea we were just preparing to fight for Christopher’s life shortly after. We started treatment almost immediately after the tests came back.

Christopher had six rounds of chemotherapy. He handled it like a champ and was always happy. During chemo, he played and loved on us. He was a huge mama’s boy and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He loved his family and was always happy and playful when we were with him. Of course, he charmed the nurses and other people he would come in contact with during treatment. He never let any of the treatment slow him down. To him,  it was just normal hanging out at clinic or hospital, or when taking medicine. He was too little to know any differently, so he did it with a smile.

During the last phase of the protocol he relapsed and I knew this evil cancer was never going to let my Christopher go.  He went through stronger chemo and more radiation. The doctors put him in some trials in the hopes that something would work to finally kill this evil disease that was trying to take my baby.

On January 25, 2013 just four months after he relapsed, just 14 months from original diagnosis, Christopher passed away in his sleep at home. He was still in treatment and we were waiting on scans to see if the last chemo had worked.

I wish there were more standard protocols for when a child with neuroblastoma relapses but it seemed like a lot of guesswork. We can do this or we can try this but we don’t really know which one of these will help or if it will at all. It was heartbreaking to slowly watch your child slowly slip away from you more and more and you’re fighting with everything and it’s not enough.

This is why raising awareness and money for more research is so important. Nobody should have to go through losing their child to this evil cancer. We have kept fighting, even though Christopher is gone, so that other parents don’t have to lose something as precious as their child.

(photo: Tough Cookie Christopher)

 

 

 

 

New Clinical Trial Gives Hope to Children Battling Cancer: Carter’s Story

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 3:09 pm August 29, 2017

Ann Dang courageously shares the story of her son Carter, a.k.a Super Carter, and his battle with neuroblastoma. 

When I hear Dr. Mossé’s name, I beam. I smile and I remember the time when we had the honor to meet such an incredible doctor.  We met Dr. Mossé through our adventure with neuroblastoma. Our sweet Carter, otherwise known as SuperCarter as he was renamed by our nurses and doctors and friends, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, stage 4, on November 11, 2011.  We were devastated when the doctors sat us down to tell us our sweet boy had cancer. No one in our families (that we knew of) had been touched by cancer. We knew friends who had gone through cancer with their families, but no one personally. We were shocked, and it took a while for us to adjust to the cancer life… to comprehend what was happening. Before we knew it, we were thrown into the world of pediatric cancer, trying to live one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, one breath at a time.

We learned to follow the protocol. And during the initial treatment plan, Carter did great. Children like him with stage 4 neuroblastoma follow the same initial protocol: a rigorous and aggressive year and a half long treatment. He never complained and smiled through every high dose chemo, surgery, stem cell transplant, radiation, and antibody treatment. He finished his initial treatment plan with no evidence of disease (NED) and we were ecstatic. We breathed a sigh of relief, and started looking ahead and thinking about the future.

But within the month, Carter woke up with a headache and asked to watch the movie Happy Feet. It was the movie that we watched during the bad days at the hospital. Tears rolled down my face, as I put the movie on, knowing my sweet boy had relapsed. Scans the next day confirmed my tears as we learned of a whole new world of pediatric cancer: the world of relapse.

In this relapse world, we found our way to Philadelphia for a second opinion, a fresh look at Carter’s cancer, and a new perspective. We were about half-way through our journey, but just felt lost. Carter was relapsing and we knew we needed more, new, and innovative treatments. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is renowned for its state of the art advances in pediatric cancer and honestly, we were hoping for a miracle. We were desperate for any treatment, any hope. We were desperate for any shred of good news.

With fierce determination and a few connections, we made it to Philly to meet Dr. Mossé. I’m still not sure how we managed to meet her, knowing she is such a busy doctor with her regular patients and ongoing research. On top of her expertise, she is such a caring doctor, taking the time to meet with families like us, who are looking for answers and desperate to find treatments to save their child. We waited patiently for our appointment, although barely moving or even taking a breath. Our journey trained us to be able to recite Carter’s medical charts and to write down dates, procedures, and medicines that he took. We even knew how to pronounce the unpronounceable words and medicines; we knew more than we ever should. We often recited his medical history without emotion at all, because any pause could bring the tears.

Then, Dr. Mossé entered the room. She was kind, light-hearted, and made us feel so at ease. She spoke so elegantly and softly, and Carter smiled at her with his big brown eyes. She was sweet and delicate when she examined him, had already looked at his X-rays before our appointment, and knew his medical history. Her suggestions for next steps were helpful, and although there’s no cure for neuroblastoma, Dr. Mossé did not make us feel defeated. Instead, she uplifted us and encouraged us… she brought us hope. And hope is a strong word for pediatric cancer families.

Dr. Mossé decided that Carter’s body needed a little break from all the high-dose chemos and treatment that he was getting. She prescribed a daily, low dose chemo for 3 month. And for 3 months, life became a little normal. We had to learn how to be normal, having forgotten what it was like. And for 3 months, we had a routine away from the hospital and clinic. Instead of 2-3 appointments a week, we were going justonce a week. It was the break we all needed. We needed to breathe. We needed to be a normal family. We needed time. In hindsight, these 3 months were the calm before the storm.

Unfortunately, Carter’s cancer returned and our family was thrown back into the world of relapse. With multiple relapses at this point, treatment options became very limited. Because of these limitations, we quickly ran out of options. Our doctors tried hard to come up with new ideas and anything that would work for our sweet boy as his body continued to fight. Eventually, his cancer took over and we lost our Carter on February 27, 2014.

There’s never a day that goes by that I don’t think about Dr. Mossé and her impact. She showed kindness to our family and gave us hope when we thought none was possible. We knew she was one of the best doctors for children battling neuroblastoma, so we were honored that she took the time to meet with us. With the way she comforted us, we wondered how she had time for conducting. We were grateful to learn that while she took time to see patients, she also conducted research and was trying to find new medicines and less toxic therapies. That was inspiring and made us appreciate her even more.

There is special meaning behind the words “hope” and “research” to a pediatric cancer family. To learn that research is underway while you are fighting is powerful. Research is happening every day, but it is slow and very expensive. There is so much more research that is needed for childhood cancer.  There is so much more that needs to be done. Many more donations are needed to make the research possible. Imagine the possibilities that new treatments could bring. Imagine a world where children do not die from pediatric cancer.

I know this is possible through the work of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.  CFKC is funding research to help find a cure. This funding is powerful and exciting, and for families like mine who have lost their children, this is hopeful. More funding means knowing that one day soon, families will not have to say goodbye to their children. Families will have one more hug, one more laugh, one more smile and many more days with their precious children.

To learn more about the phase 1 clinical trial, funded in part by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, available this month for kids just like Carter, click here. To donate to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to fund research into new, innovative treatments for the #1 disease killer of kids in the U.S., click here. To send SuperCarter Cookies in honor of Carter, click here

(photos: Tough Cookie Carter)

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