a little c

because I refuse to give it a big one

It’s business to them, to us, it’s personal

Posted by wendy on 2013/10/07

Pink is not as prevalent here in the UK as it is in the US during October.  I’ve been preparing myself for the deluge quietly, waiting for it to hit, and..it’s not that bad.  Of course, living in the UK doesn’t keep me completely protected from The Coming of the Pink,because there is always the internet to take up that bit of slack.  I want to be done with blogging about cancer.  I want to not think about it.  I want it out of my life.  But, it’s never really going to be gone.  There is no cure.

I am going to hurt a lot of feelings this month.  But, then again, hurting people’s feelings around October is kind of what I do, isn’t it?  I’m always willing to be the bad guy when it comes to letting your friends know how insulting Facebook status memes about bra colour actually are to those of us who have had to deal with cancer.

But…I have to share, because I realized instead of getting angry over these, what about just sharing directly with the women involved WHY it’s such a horrible meme?  So when the latest meme about vacations hit my inbox, I shared–and THEY LISTENED and there was like…a dialogue happening and hey, we’re not just talking pink ribbons for awareness, we’re talking about mets and I got to link them up with our own brilliant Accidental Amazon’s amazing post about Pinktober and while a few feathers were ruffled at first, I think we all walked away understanding things on both sides a bit more.  You know, so I was all calm and mellow and enjoying life this morning.

Until Statia sent me a graphic (because she thinks I’m cute when I’m full of rage–ha!) proclaiming October 13 to be National No-Bra day–‘set the boobies free!’, it proclaims.   They’re not raising money for, well…anything.  Apparently, it’s just an excuse to get their kit out and talk about boobs for a day.  It’s maddening, because it’s happening on October 13, which is Mets Awareness Day.     I’m not linking their website.  I’m not sending them any more traffic than they already have.   (you want to see it, feel free to google it up)   I’d try starting a dialogue with them, but I am officially dialogued out.   I’m just…disgusted and sad.

Do me a favour–if you run across anyone–ANYONE advertising this–please, please sent them to this link: http://mbcn.org/developing-awareness/category/mbca-day/.  Let’s keep the focus where it needs to be.  Especially on the 13th.

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hey, the NHS? Not bad at all.

Posted by wendy on 2013/09/08

Pippin loves my cast.

Pippin loves the ‘Mommy laying around’ aspect of this situation.

This is not cancer-related at all, but it IS a medical thing, so I think I should share it here.

I’ve dealt with doctors visits and mammograms since I got to England, and I’ve told my friends how much I am enjoying the ‘no paperwork, no charge’ aspects of dealing with the NHS–but, last night was my first major emergency, and I gotta tell you–I’m impressed.

We were moving a mattress up the stairs last night, and in one of my LESS graceful moments, I fell off the stairs and broke my foot (5th metatarsal) . ouch. 😦

My husband was…seriously, y’all. He’s a freaking superhero, I mean it. He sprung into action immediately–he was calm and in control and completely comforting. He managed to get me situated, call the ambulance, get my sock cut off my foot to inspect the damage, and he did it all while holding my hand and getting me to breathe through the pain. (I’m pretty sure he wasn’t holding my hand the ENTIRE time, but it sure felt like it.)


There are some pretty massive differences in England and the US when it comes to ambulances & emergency care–there was a medic in a big Volvo who showed up within 3 or 4 minutes of Mark’s call to check me out. He immediately gave me this tube to breathe in and out of–nitrous oxide (woooooooo–it was crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it outside of the dentist’s office. Apparently, their drivers carry them around as a matter of course–“oooo, does that hurt?  Here, suck on this a minute.”). He checked me over, reported his findings via radio to the ambulance drivers, who showed up within 10 minutes to take me to the hospital.

I got to take the nitrous tank (wheeeee) with me in the ambulance–I admit, I was never really a fan of that stuff until last night. But, I am officially pro-laughing gas now. They wheeled me into A&E admist jokes that I was lucky it was early, because I was going to miss the alcoholic crowd that invariably shows up in A&E on Saturday nights. The nurses were incredibly pleasant, as were the radiation techs and the doctors. No gas while I was in x-ray, but the nurse brought it over while she set my temporary cast (thankfully–seriously, dude. That HURT.). They made an appointment for me to hit the fracture clinic on Tuesday to get a permanent cast, gave me a pair of crutches and then sent us on our way. All told, we were an hour and fourty-five minutes from me breaking my foot to me being back home and on the couch skyping with Aaron.
ONE.HOUR.FOURTY-FIVE. Record time for me and emergency rooms.

The best part? No meeting with financial officers to discuss how I was planning to pay for all the excellent care I’d just received. Actually, there was NO paperwork to fill out at all. I have a National Insurance Number–I am in the system already.  It’s kind of weird to be in a hospital for a non-cancer related thing, but there you go.

While I realize there are moments that the system fails us (as do all systems)–last night, the system worked.

Like a charm.

No worries about medical bills I can’t afford, no insurance forms to fill out.  It’s awesome, I tell ya!  My biggest issue right now is figuring out how to get a cup of coffee from the kitchen to the living room without spilling it.  🙂

Posted in "Not Cancer" | 10 Comments »

(get) Busy Living

Posted by wendy on 2013/08/02

There is dust everywhere around here, isn’t there?  That’s actually okay by me.  I’m content to let the dust settle around cancer for a while before I have to wade back in and kick it all up again.   (see how I used a water AND a dirt metaphor there?  MUD PIES FOR EVERYONE!!)  Actually, I hope I NEVER blog here again.  I hope this part of my life is over, but I’m realistic enough to know that it may not be.  There is no cure for cancer.   Sometimes, it comes back.

Happy & Grateful.BUT.  Right now, this moment…today…

I’m doing really well. NED left and right.  I live in England now with my fabulous husband and my adorable dog and I miss my son like AIR, but I also get to see him nearly every night on skype AND I get to give him a big squeeze in a few weeks, so that’s a good thing.  Everyone likes to remark how happy I look–and they would be right.  I am incredibly happy and satisfied with my life.  It is everything I could have possibly wanted it to be.  I do not take this for granted. I am grateful every single day for this incredible gift.

SO.  Yes…

Sometimes, I feel like this is all borrowed time–I’ll wake up and that ache in my hip or the weird mole just above my scars (why didn’t they just cut that sucker off when they were CUTTING OFF EVERYTHING ELSE???) will turn out to be  Cancer Again and then I guess I’ll be back here documenting the hell out of everything that happens to me–but, until that time I am living my life.  Cancer can suck it.  I have adventures ahead of me and I am going to keep track of all of them here.



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A New Tradition!

Posted by wendy on 2012/09/21

Grab ’em if you got ’em–oh wait.

Pinktober is coming and I suspect that I will be getting super cranky around this time every year.  Yay, tradition!!

So, yeah…Pinktober.  Let’s play a game.  The first person to send me an email asking me to change my status to my bra color will get poked with a stick.  A VERY LARGE STICK.  It’s a prize befitting the winner of that particular game, I think.  Do a stupid, thoughtless thing–get hit with a stick.

Whaaat?   sigh.  Okay, okay.  We’ll be non-violent about it.  Public shaming and a good long Shunning.  Less violent, but hopefully just as effective.

So, I jest…and yet, I mean it.  Don’t you DARE ask me to play a flirty little game that’s supposed to be about cancer, but is actually about titillating the opposite sex.  Don’t send me your memes about ‘raising awareness’ by playing coy sexually oriented games.  Flirt with the boys on your own time.  I’m aware of cancer.  Trust me.  I’ve ridden that particular ride at the fair and believe me when I say there was nothing sexy or flirty about it.  If I ever forget about cancer, all I have to do is look down at the tangled mess of scar tissue running across what is left of my breasts.  I don’t want to hear ‘save the boobies!’.  We need to save the people.  We don’t need more awareness.  We need more action.  We need more money FOR RESEARCH, not for ‘promoting awareness’ or ‘rebranding your tarnished image’.  (Oh, Komen, how can you bite me? Let me count the ways.)

So. Pinktober is coming and we can’t stop it, but, I reckon we can talk about it.  Buying a pink spatula and feeling fabulous about yourself because you’re ‘helping the cause’  by promoting awareness is…well, it’s lame. (not that a pink spatula is lame, because a pink spatula is faaabulous–it’s the ‘cancer awareness’ angle that kind of sucks)  We’re aware–I mean, do you know ANYONE who doesn’t know about cancer?  Do you?  We. Are. Aware.  What we need is a goddamn cure.  (It’s kind of amazing how quickly I’ve become extremely cranky about this subject.  I used to be so mellow.)  😉 ( L’empress mentioned in the comments below that prevention is even more important–she is correct.)

Put down the tissues with the pretty pink ribbons emblazoned on them and do something that matters. If you want to celebrate Pinktober, then give some money to Breast Cancer Action or sign up to participate in one of the many Army of Women‘s studies.

Lest I end on a cranky note–how about another give-away?  The publishers of “The Breast Cancer Survival Manual” and they’re willing to send a free copy to one of my readers.  So, comment below (you don’t have to do anything beyond that, I won’t make you jump through hoops) and I’ll draw a winner next Friday (Sept 28) at 8:00AM (GMT).

Sorry for not getting this posted sooner–many things happening in my life at the moment. 🙂

We have a winner!  Congrats to Cindy Beth, who was lucky #3:

Posted in a little bit of c | 15 Comments »


Posted by wendy on 2012/08/03

I am totally married now!  It’s remarkably like being single at the moment, because two days after the wedding, I said goodbye to my husband at the airport and he’s back in England and I’m still  here in the states.  We have a new countdown now–the countdown until my Visa is approved and I get to join him.  Sadly, we have no idea what the countdown actually IS–we’re hoping for a few weeks, but it can take as long as 90 days.  gah.

The wedding was a blur–there were so many amazing and wonderful people there with us, and I feel like I didn’t get the time to really sit and connect and tell them what it meant to me that they came.  I think that’s the du jour for wedding couples, though.  We realized fairly early on that our actual wedding was only about 25% about us–it’s mostly about other people.  The people who love you, the people you love.  And, we were surrounded by them that day.  The only thing missing was my own mother and youngest sister.  Mom has been having some health issues, and couldn’t travel, so my youngest sister stayed behind to keep her company.  Had they been there, the day would have been completely perfect.  But, even so, it was pretty magical.

I’m sure you guys are all “WHATEVER WHERE ARE THE PICTURES??”, and I shall not disappoint.  We were the most well documented wedding in the history of ever–between my photographer friends, and the two amazing men who were the official photographers (Steven Miljavac of Prime Exposure Photography and Victor Koos of  VK3Photographix, I don’t think a single moment was missed.  Which is a good thing, because if anyone asked for a play by play of the day, I’d be pretty useless.  It was a blur of wonderful things and people.  (Yeah, yeah–y’all don’t care about my rambling–how about I just hush up and share some pictures and video?)

Our video is choppy–the camera kept cutting off–but, I thought I’d share my favorite moment:  Mark and his girls walking out:

And, Aaron (and Pip!) walking me out:

Pictures?  You want pictures?  They’re all over Facebook, it’s ridiculous–but you can view the official albums here and here.

And, now I’m going to go back to waiting for my Visa to come through.

*drummy fingers*

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Aw, y’all knew I leaned to the left.

Posted by wendy on 2012/06/26

I find it amazing and kind of sad that a great many people who are freaking out over the affordable health care act are people who will benefit from it.   As many of you know, I have had the dubious “privilege” of (“paying over 1/2 of my monthly income for”) COBRA.  I have had a catastrophic illness that devastated me financially–because when 1/2 your income goes to COBRA, and the other half is covering your mortgage and food–how do you cover a $1200 co-pay for a SHOT–a shot that you  have to have every other Friday for 6 weeks, no less?  (and I will be paying for it for a very long time to come)  And, here I sit now–COBRA has run out, and I’m a risky bet at best for other insurance companies, and my employer is a new company and cannot offer insurance yet (we don’t have enough employees), so what’s a cancerchick with no insurance to do when her tamoxifen prescription is about to run out and she’s due at her oncologist for her next PET scan?  I honestly do not know.  (Although, in my case, I’m moving to England.  Buh, bye.) (ETA: although, I’m not moving for the health care–I’m moving for M.  I should have made that clear.  hahaha!)

I was reading an excellent article this morning regarding the GOP’s lack of a contingency plan in the event that the SCOTUS should overturn the ACA this week and the author linked a couple of stories that hit home for me–Eric Richter, whose wife sewed him special pants to accommodate the large (cancerous) tumor growing in his leg, Wendy Parris, who walked around with a shattered ankle for a few years.   I realize there are many people out there who think Eric and Wendy probably deserve what happened to them (HI, HEARTLESS DOUCHEBAGS!!  May you NEVER know what it is to feel hopeless and alone.  It’s not fun.), but you know…I’m going to step out on a political limb and say does it matter?  My plant closed at the very same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had a good job, but I didn’t have thousands of dollars tucked away ‘just in case’.  I’m thinking not many of us actually do.  I’m thinking the majority of us are only a paycheck or two away from financial pain.  And a prolonged illness is financially devastating.  I know because I have been there.

At what point do we step in?  At what point do we realize that we are a village–we are a society and that we all have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters?  I’m not saying we should make sure every household has its own Xbox or that we should all get to wear designer clothes, but I am of the mind that access to affordable health care–the right to,  you know BE ALIVE, is something that we should all have.   But, pre-existing conditions are a very scary thing to our country’s poor, frightened insurance conglomerates.   I get Wendy and Eric’s situation–I understand it–because I’m in it, as well.  The ACA will help save lives.  And, the alternative could be devastating.

I have a facebook feed full of taunts and jeers with regards to our current administration.  They want to know how the ‘hope and change’ bit is working for me.  (oh hey, btw–it’s worked pretty well–when Republicans aren’t acting like a group of petulant schoolchildren, at least)  They call me names, they say I’m stupid.  These are the hypocrites who nearly always demanded that even if we didn’t agree with Bush, we should ‘respect the office of the Presidency”, but will not afford the current administration the same.  These are people who also like to post inane pictures professing their great love of Jesus–and the passive aggressive–‘hey, if you love him, you better post this picture as well, but you probably DON’T LOVE JESUS, so most of you won’t”.  (and we all know how I feel about passive aggressive facebook posts.)   Hey, guess what?   Jesus would NOT approve of you clapping at the thought of someone dying because they don’t have health insurance.  I don’t recall Jesus ever once pulling out a whip and tossing any good Samaritans out of the temple.  Jesus was not a capitalist.   I am rarely judgmental when it comes to religion, but–hey.  Take a close look at your life.  If you’re spewing “every man for himself” in the same breath as “I’m a proud Christian!”, THEN YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

Posted in a little bit of c | 29 Comments »

Bridezilla With a Touch of Steinbeck

Posted by wendy on 2012/05/23

Hello world!  I’ve been off again, doing real-life things and ignoring all things c-related, but I have a super excellent excuse this time:  I’m getting married!!!  In July!!  aaaahhiiiiieeeeeee!!!  So, there’s no cancer stuff below–just girly squeeing and complaining about how expensive porta john rentals are these days.

I want to pet it and squeeze it and hug it and name it George!!

Let’s begin with the girly squeeing.  I love my ring.  I LOVE IT!  It’s unexpected and it’s unique and it’s beee-you-tiful, I tell you!  Wait, I won’t tell you–I’ll show you:    Look to your right!  No, your other right!  There you go.  Right there.   Isn’t it pretty?  Don’t you love it?  Yes!  Yes, you do.

So, as you may have guessed, I am very emotional at this time in my life.  VERY EMOTIONAL.  The word ‘bridezilla’ has been bandied about with my name (jokingly, thank goodness), but you know, it got me to thinking…WeTV has more or less ruined having the occasional (and I think very normal) bouts of The Dramas that we get when something huge is happening in our lives–like, oh…a wedding.

I’ve always maintained that the Bridezilla television show would be so much more satisfying if the horrible women who star in it got left at the alter.  I mean, I’d WATCH that show, because I love a good comeuppance.  Sadly, they do not get left, and those of us who like to see karma coming around to kick people in the shins when they deserve it are left unsatisfied.  I don’t get the women who say “I’M A BRIIIIDEZILLLA!” with such obvious glee and pride.  Are there women to aspire to be that horrendous to the people around them?  Am I supposed to be demanding and crazed and unreasonable–am I doing the bride thing incorrectly if I’m not?  There’s even a quiz on the main page of their site–I guess I need an online quiz to ascertain the level of bridal douchebaggery that lurks deep within my soul.

Aw, we’re happy.

That said, I AM in a high state of nervousness–who wouldn’t be?  But, thus far, I haven’t taken it out on any poor unsuspecting souls who cross my path.  I’m not so much a Bridezilla as I am a Lenny.  I cannot do ANYTHING.  I’m forgetful, I’m slow, I’m incapable of focusing on anything remotely difficult or intricate. I break things without meaning to.  I’m sitting around with a dopey grin on my face most of the time and not getting ANYTHING done.   Seriously, M put a ring on my hand, and I think my IQ dropped 20 points.

I may have to revisit this post in 3 weeks and see if I still feel all dopamined up and lumberingly happy.  Who knows?  My inner Bridezilla may be waiting in the wings to pounce on the first poor, unsuspecting soul who brings me red gerbera daisies with slightly browned edges.  Or, I’ll break into a stream of unbridelike expletives the next time I’m told I have to rent a porta-john for FOUR days when I actually only need it for one day.   I mean, seriously.  Four days?  Also, stop telling me I need at least 3 of them.   It’s a wedding, not Coachella.

Fancy outhouses notwithstanding, at the end of the day, I’ve decided that if M and I walk away from this shindig as a fully fledged married couple, then it’s been a success.   I could not be happier with my choice of partner.  He’s some kind of wonderful, that boy.

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Hey, let’s review a book!

Posted by wendy on 2012/04/23

I am a horrible person, y’all!  I was sent a copy of this adorable little book to review over 3 weeks ago, and I got all caught up in vacation stuff and STILL have not written anything about it.  But, I’m on it, now–let’s discuss “Mirror Makeovers: Surviving Cancer and Baldness with Humor”.

We all deal with cancer differently, but I think there are common threads among all of us–it was one of the things that struck me back in the beginning of my diagnosis.  Feeling alone, feeling angry, feeling depressed…all completely normal, and we’ve all been there–trust me.  We all struggle to get through that until we can find some semblance of what is our new ‘normal’.  Some women find their peace through activism, some women find it through mediation, and some women find it through humor.  Regina E. Savage found hers through humor–and she decided to create a book about it.

In many ways, this reminds me of the Klutz books I used to buy for my son (well, okay–I still buy Klutz books for myself, but I am a sucker for interactive books–especially the educational kind).  It’s funny and it’s whimsical (y’all know I love me some whimsy) and it’s interactive.  There are a few hilarious little anecdotes about being bald, but, for me the star of the book (besides Regina herself) is the clear plastic pouch containing window chalk markers (she has an entire section devoted to drawing ‘hairstyles’ on your mirror–it’s super-cute).  If I were not about to give this book to one of you, I would so be using those markers to write all over the mirrors in my house.  I have no need of hair at this point (oh my GOD, it’s everywhere–oh Dear Frantic Googler–it grows back, trust me.  <3), but how fun would it be to write yourself little love notes on all of the mirrors in your house?  You may not look like YOU at the moment, but you are there, darling.  You’re there, and you’re fabulous and don’t you dare forget it.

This book is available through Quiet Angel Publishing (and on Amazon–but, I like the Quiet Angel link best, because you can choose a charity and they’ll donate $5 when you buy a copy) and I’d totally suggest it as a gift for someone you know is struggling a bit to find their smile.

In the spirit of passing it on–I’d like to pass this little gem on to someone else.  Leave a comment below, and I’ll toss everyone’s name into a hat and send it to the winner.  I won’t make you jump through any hoops or be extra witty or like my facebook page–just leave a comment.  I’ll draw the winning name next Friday (4/27).

So say, hi!  I don’t bite.  (hard)

Congrats to jelebelle! I will be sending some bookish goodness your way this weekend!!

Jelebelle! My 3rd comment. 🙂

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Posted by wendy on 2012/04/09

I knew when I got my port-a-cath removed last August that I wanted to do something special with it–I just wasn’t sure what.  I had loads of suggestions, but it wasn’t until M suggested we hike our way up Helvellyn over the Easter holiday that the plan coalesced in my head.  I would climb Helvellyn and bury my port at the summit.

Mind you, I’ve never actually climbed a mountain before, so let’s all imagine my shock (and awe) at how incredibly difficult this climb was for me.  Difficult–and completely terrifying–and oh hey, can you SEE the metaphor forming?  I mean, seriously, I had a little metaphor-shaped cloud hanging over me from around the 400 meter mark and beyond.  I mean, seriously.  Incredibly difficult on a physical level?  Check.  Painful?  Check.  Mortal fear?  Check.  Icy cold wind making my face numb?  Well, okay.  That bit was new.  😉

We hiked, we climbed–and once or twice, I scooted on my butt because I couldn’t figure out any other way to get from one rock to another–but, we made it to the summit, and I buried my port inside a cairn just north of the summit marker.

There are cairns all over Helvellyn.  All the way up and back down again.  It’s tradition for climbers to toss another rock on the cairns as they go by.   I think it’s a way of saying “I was here.”

It may come back.  It may be the thing that gets me in the end.  That is the reality we all live with.  But, now–here and now–I feel stronger and less afraid than ever.

I was here.

Me. Sitting on the cairn that now encases my chemo port. If you're ever at the summit--toss a rock on and think of me, will you?

There are more shots on my Facebook page, if you want a peek.

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Mythology and the Reality of Me

Posted by wendy on 2012/03/31

If I had a nickel for every instance in which someone said “You’re so brave” immediately after finding out I had cancer,  I’d have all my medical bills paid for.  Well, that’s not true.  I’d need at least $500 for every instance of it in order to pay for all of them.  (and, hey, if anyone wants to get on that, please–be my guest.) It’s a nice sentiment, but if you just met me…how would you know?  I mean, really.

The truth is that I probably spend way more time being completely terrified of everything than the average person does.  You get a blemish on your body?  You just Clearasil that sucker and move on.  I get a blemish?  I google skin cancer and then spent about an hour hyperventilating into a bag.    (Maybe one day, I’ll have M guest blog and he can tell you how many google-ledges from which he has talked me down.)   Just the simple act of having cancer doesn’t make one brave–believe me, I wish it did.

It doesn’t make us automatically noble, either.  I’ve done plenty of bad things in my life.  I’ve done things I’m not proud of–and I’ve done them since my diagnosis.  I’m human, I screw up. And, cancer is no respecter of morals or actions.  It doesn’t only happen to good people.  (if it did only happen to the good and noble, we’d all be kicking puppies and stealing candy from babies left and right, wouldn’t we?)  mmm…candy.  Wow.  It may well be a good thing there are no babies around me right now, because I could TOTALLY go for a Snickers.  😉

So, cancer doesn’t make us angels on pedestals. We’re just…people.  We are capable of amazing acts of bravery, and we can be shockingly selfish.  The thing is, we’re doing all of this while being repeatedly hit with the shitstick, (see?  THIS BLOG CONTAINS SWEARS!!  But, if I called cancer the daisystick, it just wouldn’t sound quite right–nor would it be accurate, would it?), so I think those heroic acts are exacerbated and the selfish stuff gets a pass.  (hey, as it should–cause..hellooo, when life is hitting you with a shitstick, it’s very difficult to get around.)

There are so many myths about cancer out there.  I think that’s the double-edged sword that we have with the internet.  There is so much information out there–so much of it is helpful and informative, and so much of that information comes in the form of..well, for lack of a better term..bullshit.   How do you know if what you’re getting is real or fake?  Well, if you are getting your science and health information from conservapedia (no links–if you really want to check out some delusional stuff, then feel free to google it.), then you are not nearly as informed as you think you are.   Cancer.org is a good place to start looking, as is Breast Cancer Action.  What other sites do you use for information?  Feel free to leave a link.  🙂

Where was I going with this? Well…None of us are any more or less entitled to treatment than others based on our personalities, our religious beliefs, our political standing.  Very few of us want your pity.  Occasionally, we need your help (and a Cherry Limeade from Sonic wouldn’t hurt–I’M JUST SAYIN’).  Always, we need respect, clear and correct information, and a place to let our voice be heard.

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