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Thread: How bad can a stage II colon cancer be?

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    How bad can a stage II colon cancer be?

    My more than a friend is diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer, and I am feeling so scared, helpless and overwhelmed with the feeling of whats going ot happen. I do not know details as he has to still get the second opinion or may be he is hiding the details from me. How can I help him? I live very far from him, and not in a position to visit him as and when I wish to. But I want to help him as much as I can. Can someone tell me what is it that I can do for him? I know he must be scared too. He is just 48.

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    Top User topazil's Avatar
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    I know this is all scary to you and yes it is just as if not more scary to him.

    First of all breathe, take a deep breathe and let it out slowly, then do it again.

    Okay, the good news, the way they stage colon cancer is pretty clear on what each stage is and how things are looked at and dealt with, Stage II colon cancer although not to be taken any less seriously than Stage III or Stage IV is still quite a bit different than those two.

    There are five stages of colon cancer (0-4). This staging system reflects where the cancer went when no one was looking. In general, the earlier the stage, the easier the cancer is to treat.

    Stage 2 colon cancer used to be called Duke's B colon cancer. Stage 2 tumors are divided into two groups: one that's less advanced and one that's more advanced. The less advanced one is called stage 2A (formerly Duke's B1) and the more advanced is stage 2B (formerly Duke's B2).

    Think Like a Tumor
    To understand your tumor, it helps to think like one.

    You open your eyes and find yourself in a fleshy tunnel (a colon) and the only thing you know is this: You must dig out of that tunnel. Escape. Spread.

    The ground you're standing on is the first layer of the colon, the mucosa. If you dig a little, you'll pass through a thin muscle layer and run into the submucosa. Dig a little more and you'll hit a thick muscle layer, then another major muscle layer. Keep digging and you'll reach the outermost layer of the colon, the serosa. Along the way, you'll be hoping to hit a blood vessel or lymph node, since infiltrating either will help you spread faster.

    That's what you were born to do, and that's what you'll try to do until someone stops you.

    Treatment for Stage 2 Colon Cancer
    When discovered at stage 2A, colon cancer has either made it through the muscle layers or managed to spread to nearby tissues around the colon or rectum. In stage 2B, the cancer has extended through the colon wall into nearby organs (such as the bladder or ovaries). In stage 2B, the cancer may also have stretched into the peritoneum - tissue that covers most of the organs in your abdomen.

    Treatment for stage 2 colon cancer generally consists of a surgical resection and, if the doctor thinks the cancer may recur, chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy. In a surgical resection, a surgeon removes the section of the colon affected by the tumor and joins the remaining healthy sections together to form one long, healthy piece.

    Survival Rate for Stage 2 Colon Cancer
    A lot of things can influence colon cancer survival rates. Stage is a major factor, but tumor location and country of residence have also been shown to impact survival. For example, tumors in the right colon are often caught later because symptoms take longer to emerge, and in countries where early screening is relatively uncommon, tumors are caught later. Studies have also found that exercise may increase colon cancer survival rates.

    In general, about 90 percent of people with stage 2 colon cancer are still alive five years after their diagnosis.

    This is taken from the internet from the ACS site (American Cancer Society)

    Now I do have to say something about the last part, when they say "In general, about 90 percent of people with stage 2 colon cancer are still alive five years after their diagnosis." That 5 year mark is just that a mark, they don't go on to tell you that in the groups that were followed up on many of those 90% were alive 10, 15, 20 years after. 5 years is the marking they use on all the stages of colon cancer to determine from trials and follow ups who is more likely to make it to 5 years but I have done an awful lot of reading and there are those with stage II who have lived long fruitful lives and died of natural causes at a ripe old age barring any complications (I just put the complications in there to show an all around picture as there are complications with everything even life)

    So I hope this broke the Stage II colon cancer down a bit for you and made it a bit more understandable, once we understand things a bit it becomes maybe a bit less scary (((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))

    Welcome to the forum by the way, I am sorry to have to welcome you here because of your more than a friend's cancer but glad you found this forum, there are many wonderful people here who will listen to you, give advice, share their own experiences and in general try and help and ease your mind and heart as much as possible.

    If you have any other questions please put them down and we will do our best to help you. BTW, a second opinion is good, not just to see what the second Dr. says but to get a good "fit" for him with his Dr. and also the best thing you can do to help him right now? Be supportive and be brave, it's easy to give in to fears and "What if's" but with his cancer he shall we say dodged half a bullet, it got him but not as bad as it could be and a great deal better than some are dealing with. From what I have read with treatment he will be fine and so will you.

    My prayers are with you and him as are my thoughts
    Total hysterectomy July 23 2008, mass in colon.
    Colonoscopy Aug 2008
    Rigid Sigmoidoscopy with a laparoscopic-assisted partial colectemy with enbloc small bowel resection Sep 2008
    Diagnosed: Stage IV Colon Cancer mets to lungs and liver. (T3,N2,M1,G2) KRAS Mutation
    Started chemotherapy: 09/14/09 Folfox-6/Avastin then Camptosar/Avastin & last Folfox-6/Avastin
    On Hospice, started 11/12/10
    Last PET scan: Oct 12th
    Most recent CEA Level: 09/27/10: 696.7 up from 08/16/10: 284.8

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    HI,

    Best way to help is to be a huge support and encourgement to him and be positive in all you do. Find out as much details that you can.
    Try hard not to panic or worry, and know you are both not alone on this journey..Has he got good support? family and friends .were he lives?

    Stay calm and meet evry bridge when you get to them, do not second guess every thing... Has he got a good diet?

    Check out on google...

    sugar and cancer..

    BEST WISHES ROB

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    Thank you

    Thank you so much for the replies. As far as I know yes his diet is good. I just don't know what kind of words I shall use to comfort him, when he is not expressing his fears very well. I mean there must be so much going on in his mind, and if I say have a nice day, how can one have a nice day when things are messy like this? If I say hope you feel better, we all know he is not going to feel better for many more months to come due to the treatments etc. I have never faced this in my life. And for me he is more than a frnd, for him I guess I am just a friend. What kind of support he might expcet from ppl around him? I think he has good support of family and friends, but right now he lives alone. And thats the fact I am more scared about, what if no one steps up to be with him full time while he is undergoing treatment. Can one go throuhg it alone?

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    Fal, I looked around on the Internet (big research nut here (grin) and will set down further down a rather lengthy "reply" to your answer but for me, I at first had a friend who I lived on her couch, now I have my love, my miracle, my Tom, but family? I have one son (oldest) who disowned me over a minor squabble, and a younger son who has HIV but is also into drinking, drugs and a new boyfriend every other week (yes he's gay and I love him) and doesn't keep in touch as much as I would like. No friends other than Tom, we belong to no social or religious groups so it is me and Tom.

    As long as your friend has "someone" around him where he lives or even if it's just you long distance, one person alone can make a world of difference.

    Okay so here is what I found and it's long (sometimes I write a sentence and sometimes I write or C/P volumes LOL) but I think you will find good answers to your questions:

    "A woman named Paula wrote in to ask "What would you rather they say?" Excellent question, and I don't have a ready answer for her. Sometimes I don't need others to say anything, sometimes I just need them to listen. I appreciate it when they say they're sorry, and that's when I find myself comforting others rather than the other way around. It's hard to see the sadness in the eyes of others, I truly wish there was something I could do or say to make it easier.

    I don't really need advice. Some people want to suggest a particular form of treatment, or diet, or something like that. I listen to all of that, and do check out things that sound promising. But it's hard to keep track of every new drug or treatment or diet or whatever. It all becomes a little overwhelming at times, but you also don't want to miss something important.

    So to get back to Paula's question, what do I want others to say? There is no right answer. It depends on me, my mood, how I'm feeling, my emotional state, and it also depends on who it is that I'm talking to. Some people don't need to say a word, I already know how they feel. It doesn't need to be spoken. Some talk about everything but my cancer, and sometimes that's exactly what I need too. There are no magic words that I need to hear. Yes, there are some things that shouldn't be said, but sometimes are. And I don't think that people are insensitive, I think it's hard to know what to say.

    Before I set off down the cancer road, I'm sure that I said some really stupid things in those situations. I just didn't know any better. So maybe when it comes down to it, it's not the words that matter so much, maybe it's just the act of trying to say something, for our sake, and for theirs. Maybe it's just the act of trying to reach across that dividing line that seems so huge to all of us on both sides, maybe that's what's really important.

    OK... here's what not to say. Shortly after my surgery for breast cancer, a younger family member called to talk to me. Obviously, she needs work on her people skills, because she lauched into a fairly graphic account of the terrible death of her aunts second husband from cancer. THAT didn't help. I am not sure what motivates that kind of reaction. Perhaps it's from a lack of anything to say on the subject of ones own illness, and a desire to say SOMETHING. It's beyond me. However, I can say with certainty to those reading this who don't have cancer, that that is NOT what we want to hear.

    Sent by Nancy K. Clark | 12:42 PM ET | 10-02-2006

    Thank you for writing this column. You're doing such a service with it.

    Everyone's experiences and sensitivities are different, and on any given day the same comment might be ok or might be difficult to hear. There is often no way to know that ahead of time, either for the speaker or for the cancer patient/survivor.

    There are a couple of books that people can refer to on this topic. Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know has sections on great things to say and do, not great things to say and do to say and "what to say instead" and Cancer Etiquette: What to Say, What to Do When Someone You Know or Love Has Cancer.

    The intention of the person, and their attempt to reach across what you call the dividing line are usually honorable, regardless of how poorly executed that intention/attempt might be. Sometimes it's a lot to ask of the patient/survivor to have to extend that understanding to someone who's just unwittingly said something upsetting on an already tough day. I think it's great that Paula asked what you rather others say in an effort to be sensitive and supportive, and hope this discussion helps people on both sides of the line.

    Sent by M.J. | 1:27 PM ET | 10-02-2006

    I may have said this before but in looking back at when I was first diagnosed the comment that I still remember was, "I'll be there." At the time I didn't realize how important that statement was. I thought yeah it wont be long so... but as the roller coaster has continued now for 15 months that friend has been there through surgeries, chemo, and even a trip to Paris. I have had many folks be supportive but I think those words looking backwards were the most profound. I know how difficult it is for people to hear the news but perhaps if they react in whatever way is natural to them we need to accept their genuine emotions.

    Sent by Dona | 1:28 PM ET | 10-02-2006

    The hardest thing for me, once I returned to work/my life after helping to care for my mother after her surgery was that it seemed people would (and still do) somehow think that asking me about her health is small talk. You know, in the elevator, as we pass each other in the hallway, in the lunch line, "how's your mother?" I'm sure cancer patients get it, too.

    Please, either don't ask, or make sure there's enough time to truly listen.

    Sent by Mara | 1:30 PM ET | 10-02-2006

    As the mother of Mara, and therefore the cancer patient, I get the same question. "How are you?", always on the fly down the hall. My standard answer is some variation of Great! or maybe, Fine! or even Terrific! Since I don't really know differently and won't until my doctor tells me otherwise, I suppose it is true. The funniest thing anyone said to me . . .

    This was after surgery for pancreatic cancer, then a round of chemo, followed by radiation with more chemo, and in the midst of another round of chemo, a fellow worker said, "Oh, I thought your cancer was all gone." As in, I thought you were so over that. My jaw just dropped. I had to laugh at her naivete. I only wish.

    Sent by Stephanie | 9:42 AM ET | 10-03-2006

    Maybe I'm just cranky today because I just had chemo a few days ago and every side effect is kicking in full time today, but my peeve today is for those people who mean well, but insist that they know of a cure that will take care of all my tumors today. I'm sure that your best boyfriend's cousin really was miraculously cured of everything from hangnails to cancer by using the extract from some mystical and exotic far eastern plant. That's wonderful, but I can't help but be skeptical since there's no clinical proof that it does anything but put a shine on your floor, or that you just so happen to be a dealer for this wonder drug. I get this pitch at least twice a month and I try to be polite and offer to look into it sometime. Please " no more sales pitches. A simple, "I hope you're doing well" is appreciated much more. If I want jujube bark extract, I'll check with my oncologist and alternative treatment therapists.

    Sent by Bob | 9:44 AM ET | 10-03-2006

    I think it totally depends on the day and the mood! Lately, I have so many people asking about my prognosis, which I find really annoying and too personal. I don't know ... I am just going through chemo, living every day and trying to get through like everyone else. I think it depends many times on who it is coming from. Most of the time I end up trying to break the ice for the other people, and that is OK too.

    Sent by Sheila | 9:47 AM ET | 10-03-2006

    I was diagnosed in April with Stage 3 Uterine cancer. Before my cancer, like most people, I ignorantly made comments to those who were unfortunate enough to suffer from this disease. I either made vague generalizations or I ignored the person hoping not to make eye contact with them.

    I've had people react to me in several different ways. Avoidance seems to be the preferred method until the first eye-to-eye encounter with someone. I'm not sure if people think it's easier to wait to talk or they secretly hope the cancer will somehow disappear before the next time they see you.

    I've had many negative reactions from people about my cancer. People love to let you in on all the horrific stories of chemo and horrible deaths they witnessed from a passing loved one. They always end by commenting, "I'm sure this won't happen to you, though..."

    The reaction that bothers me most has been from fellow Christians. I've had people actually say to me, "If you have faith, your cancer will go away." Really? That's all I need? Wow, this is too easy. I'll have to clue my doctor in on this cure.

    People who have faith die every day. I don't understand how anyone can be so insensitive to an ill person, but I continue to hear this type of logic. Everyone will die, someday. I have faith I will die when I can't live any longer, not a day later.

    I try not to be angry with people who say the wrong thing. But I also use my illness to correct those who say inappropriate things to me. I don't want them to repeat their ignorance. I use my experiences to teach those who aren't sure how to react to cancer.

    If I could give advice to those on the outside of this disease, I would say simply, "Listen." The thing that helped me most in dealing with my cancer were the friends and loved ones who listened to me cry, listened to me be angry, and listened to me learn to deal with what was happening to my body.

    I don't want to forget those people who are lights in our dark times. People who did or said exactly as they should give us hope and while making us smile. The nurse that joked at the hospital when we needed to smile. The fellow chemo patient who gave us hope through their suffering. The relative who shaved our head and cried with us as our hair fell to the ground. The freind that called to give us love. The hospital aide that held our hand and made us feel human again.

    I try not to dwell on the negative aspects of this disease. I am happy to be able to view the world from the place this disease has led me. I understand a realm of life I never knew existed until I lived with this illness. Hopefully, through these types of discussions, we can eduacate people while we gain understanding about our strengths in dealing with this disease.

    Sent by Denise Nelson | 9:49 AM ET | 10-03-2006

    I too started a blog to keep friends and family informed of my progress through surgery and chemo for ovarian cancer. It is a great way to keep people in the loop without answering the same questions over and over again.

    My advice to them on what to say was this. Say something. If you don't know what to say, say, "I dont know what to say." The best thing you can say is, "I'm so sorry you're going through this. What can I do to help?"

    When people don't know what to say, they often say nothing, which is the worse response of all. Hearing from friends and loved ones during a difficult time is one of the biggest and best things to keep us going. I loved the response from the friend that just said, "I'll be there." That is a beautiful sentiment. But if you say it, mean it and do it.

    Sent by Tracy Maxwell | 9:41 AM ET | 10-04-2006

    There are no pat answers for what to say with anyone facing a deadly illness. Recognizing that you 'don't have the words to express how badly you feel' or admitting 'I simply don't have words to say to you' can be comforting. In the end, it is what you do, not what you say that will matter. Showing up and listening intently can speak volumes without uttering a word.

    Sent by Mark, a Stephen Minister | 9:31 PM ET | 09-09-2007

    I suffered from a brain tumour at the age of 9. Radio, a shunt and a stroke etc...As a child the most important thing is to have faith in your parents.
    I learned that there were so many others there in far worse situations than me and considered myself lucky.
    I was looking through this site as my aunt has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I have written her the following note (if this can help anyone). "I want you to know that I'm thinking about you all the time, that you will be strong and things will happen so quickly that before you know it you'll be home, happy and healthy.
    I want you to know that we all love you so much, are cheering you on all the way and will be following your progress..." I have deliberately left out anything to do with my illness as brain cancer is very different to breast...
    To all of you out there, have courage...

    Sent by Chiara J. Davies | 9:04 PM ET | 01-28-2008

    As a cancer survivor I find it more supportive and comforting to hear someone say," I heard you've got a challenge ahead of you, and just want you to know that I am here for you." Is there anything you need at this time?" This immediately opens or closes the door to those the patient wants to communicate with and closes the door for those who are simply inquisitive.

    Sent by Yoli Bell | 2:02 PM ET | 03-04-2008

    Stupid comments I've had:

    Oh, my mother died of your type of cancer - she was in dreadful, dreadful agony. It was a horrendous death!

    Are you pregnant? Your tummy looks very swollen! Congratulations (patting it painfully).

    Ohhhh you look so THIN! You've lost weight! You don't look like yourself any more!

    Eeeeeeeek! What have you done to your hair? You used to have such lovely hair! (angrily) why have you done that to yourself?

    I can see you're giving up. I can just tell you are. When people give up, they die. You MUST be positive.

    Sent by Alison Selinus | 7:13 AM ET | 03-11-2008

    My father died at the age of 54 from colon cancer in 1989. My mother died at 67 from lung cancer this past November. Every day is a challenge for me. I was 25 when my father died and not yet married or had children. I am 44 and now have 3 children and miss both my parents terribly. I have often question my faith, have been angry, scared and often feel very alone, although I have a wonderful husband and 3 beautiful children. I watched both my parent suffer terrible deaths. I often prayed for my mother to just quietly go in her sleep, but that was not the plan for her. My life will never be the same. I will never look at things the same way nor will I ever take anything or anyone for granted. To all those people who think the thing to say is "well at least they are no longer suffering" or "your Mom had a good long life"..makes me want to scream. Please just tell us you are there, let us cry, hug us and every now and then, just drop us a note to let you know you haven't forgotten us. After death, the pain for the family does not dissapear. Life does not go back to normal. Sometimes it is very hard to watch everyone else's life go on as you feel yours has come to a screeching halt. One of the most insensitive things that was ever said to me was when my mother was in full blown kidney failure, I had a friend who told me she knew exactly how I felt as her cat had just gone through the same thing.

    Sent by Karen Wendt | 2:24 PM ET | 09-12-2008

    Although I haven't had cancer, I've lost several family members and co-workers to cancer and I did lose my 17-year-old son to brain death so in the past 12.5 years since his death, I've heard the full gamut of things said or not said. One of my favorites was from a highschool girlfriend who I know has tried her best to 'say the right thing' and I give her credit for that. During one of our grocery store happenstance meetings she said "God never gives us more than we can handle." My completely caught-off-guard response was "I'm not sure about that." I've never forgotten what she said and I did find what I consider a positive response . . . "God doesn't give us what we can handle. God helps us handle what we are given." I believe that God gives us courage.

    Sent by Barbara Bennett | 11:54 AM ET | 09-15-2008"
    Total hysterectomy July 23 2008, mass in colon.
    Colonoscopy Aug 2008
    Rigid Sigmoidoscopy with a laparoscopic-assisted partial colectemy with enbloc small bowel resection Sep 2008
    Diagnosed: Stage IV Colon Cancer mets to lungs and liver. (T3,N2,M1,G2) KRAS Mutation
    Started chemotherapy: 09/14/09 Folfox-6/Avastin then Camptosar/Avastin & last Folfox-6/Avastin
    On Hospice, started 11/12/10
    Last PET scan: Oct 12th
    Most recent CEA Level: 09/27/10: 696.7 up from 08/16/10: 284.8

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    Great info. Helps a lot. I was the first one whom he informed about his diagnosis, so I didnot know how to react. No doubt I started crying at first, I am still crying. I wake in the middle of the night with fears in my heart. But I am trying to remain positive as his is stage 2. Hopefully his treatment will work out and he will be here with his loved ones for many more years to come. I wrote to him this mroning 'Just wanted to let you know, I am here 4 u whenever n howvere u need me. always thinking about u...', he appreciated it. I don't know whether he has gathered courage to inform anyone else yet or not. Its scary.

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    Am I doing the right thing?

    I want to go and see my 'more than a friend', I have been asking him if I could, but he has been avoiding to reply that question. He keeps telling me he is fine and nothing to worry about. But I don't know the real situation. And I feel that I should go and see him once. My situation is such that my visa expires at the end of the year so I may have to go back to my country, and I don't know when I will get a chance to come back. I wish him full recovery and many more happy years of life. But I also feel that unless I go and see him I won't know how he feels about me visiting him. I know he has a lot to think about deal with and take care of. And weird thing is I have known him for only for 4 months now, and the situation that has brought us together makes me think why were we brought together, if this is what he was meant to deal with. Must be some reason that I was made a part of his ordeal. I am failing to understand that reason. I have already booked my tickets without telling him. Am I doing the right thing? Would he love to see me at this time of life??? I am not a family but I am not just a friend who can just say everything will be fine and I will pray for you. I feel more than that. I feel the pain, I feel the fear, I worry about how he must be holding up. Please tell me from point of view of someone who is just diagnosed with this monster desease. Would they love to see their friend take out time and go and visit them?????

  8. #8
    Top User topazil's Avatar
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    Wow you are dealing with a lot. Myself, I would have done the same thing you are doing but make sure you email or call and let him know you are coming, reassure him that you don't expect to stay with him (in case he for some reason can't have you there) but will if he would like you to be there otherwise you will get a hotel room (if you haven't already) and arrange with him a time to meet up and have lunch dinner or go to his place.

    I can't tell you how he will take the news, he needs someone at this time but he might not want someone at this time (I know, it sounds confusing but people deal with this in different ways and there is no way to determine who will deal with it how).

    Be prepared for anger or even rejection, he might not even want to see you once you get there, be prepared for that, if nothing else you will have a mini vacation for yourself and see a different area.

    Please keep us updated on how things go and you have offered to come, he avoided a commitment to your coming there, you are going anyway and now things are to be seen. I hope for a good outcome but as they always say, hope for the best be prepared for the worst.

    I am not newly diagnosed but when I was I had a friend there for me and it helped so much I can't begin to tell you, but again different people deal with this in different ways.

    Wishing and hoping and praying for the best for you and him in all.
    Total hysterectomy July 23 2008, mass in colon.
    Colonoscopy Aug 2008
    Rigid Sigmoidoscopy with a laparoscopic-assisted partial colectemy with enbloc small bowel resection Sep 2008
    Diagnosed: Stage IV Colon Cancer mets to lungs and liver. (T3,N2,M1,G2) KRAS Mutation
    Started chemotherapy: 09/14/09 Folfox-6/Avastin then Camptosar/Avastin & last Folfox-6/Avastin
    On Hospice, started 11/12/10
    Last PET scan: Oct 12th
    Most recent CEA Level: 09/27/10: 696.7 up from 08/16/10: 284.8

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    Apparently since I am more than a friend but not a family, I do not have a stand. So I was asked to cancel my tickets, which I did. And as per his request I am not supposed to stress myself too. How can you love someone and not worry about them? But anyways looks like, I won't be going to meet him and not sure when he will allow me to. So all I will have to do is pray for his full recovery and strength for him to fight this monster. Please keep him in your prayers too. And my thoughts and prayers are with all those who are fighting this monster. 2 days back I didnot know much about this monster, and now I know a lot. I hope I will be able to help others prevent this from happening, from whatever knowledge I have gained here.

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    Not that I don't know and understand the ordeal he and his family must be going through. I literally felt as if I had the disease and I have to now fight it. Of course I will be fighting it with him but from distance. I will be praying for him everyday.

 
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