Stories of Care

To submit a story of your care for publication on this site, please send an email with your story and contact info to stories@unitedforcare.org 

To submit your story by voice, please leave a message at (850)845-0561.

No personal identification other than your initials and age will be published.  United For Care reserves the right to edit for space/appropriateness and by submitting you authorize us to use your story within our campaign materials.

 

SUBMITTED STORIES OF CARE:

S.C. (43): "I am 43 years old and have suffered from Bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia my entire adult life. My husband is a 46 year old combat veteran who served 3 tours in Iraq as a sniper and suffers from severe PTSD and a broken back and neck.  After years of experimenting with our doctors with different medications, both of us had the same persisting symptoms...sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, a constant feeling of irritation and daily pain.  For the last several years we have been using marijuana to treat those symptoms, which helps us more than any of the medications we were treated with and able to give up.  Waking up feeling rested, being able to go in public without fear, the ability to get our point across without getting angry, and even an hour pain free... unless you have suffered these things you could never fully appreciate how valuable they are.  Our only problem is that we now live in fear of prosecution, simply for taking care of ourselves in the healthiest way possible."

H (77): I’m a 77 yr. old veteran and Floridian with a non-curable blood cancer (Multiple Myeloma) and am currently in my 5th Clinical Trials Study at the largest Cancer Institute in Tampa over the past 7 3/4 yrs.  There were another 12 patients in my study, but one dropped out because he couldn’t handle the side effects.  There are 25 Hematology researchers following our progress & they are amazed at mine.  My cancer measuring M-Spike number has gone from 2.3 down to 0.1.  While others are fighting lack of appetite, lack of sleep, 2nd & 3rd stage nausea, diarrhea, constipation, & mental challenges, I have none of those side effects.  Initially, the researchers thought it was just my genes. Many now feel it may well be from my daily use of a small amount of marijuana.

J (53): In late April 1997 I was diagnosed with depression & anxiety disorder. This followed 4 hellish months where no one seemed to know what condition I had: regular occurrences shortness of breath, panic attacks, hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood), and a racing heartbeat. My initial panic attack sent me to the ER in an ambulance. I was only 36, in excellent health with no known medical condition.  All the doctors could tell me was that this was brought on from stress...

After nearly 5 debilitating months of being emotionally and physically worn down, I went to see a psychiatrist - it was the best, and worst, decision of my life. The best in that the medication they gave me stopped my panic attacks in their tracks, and I've haven't had one since. That was 18 years ago. What was the worst part of it? Working my way up to 4 mg of Xanax (alprazolam) a day, becoming addicted for 17 years. Yes, it was all legal, but my body & mind didn't make this distinction - addiction is addiction.

In 2013, after 17 years on alprazolam, I began to slowly wean myself off of it with the help of a doctor, and the use of non habit-forming medication. It took nearly a year and a half to complete this process, to include getting off the non habit-forming drugs, and it was a nightmare at times, literally.

What helps now? Cannabis...plain and simple. There are strains known to reduce stress & anxiety, and it's not addictive. My life is much better now at age 53 without debilitating anxiety & addiction. That is, as long as I have access to quality Cannabis when I need it. When I do have it, all is fine. When I don't, I have to resort to taking Xanax again, for which I still have a prescription in case of emergencies. The last thing I need, or want, in my life is to be addicted to a pharmaceutical drug once again. I'm not anti-pharmaceutical, but why endure countless doctor's visits and experimentation with 7-8 medications at high cost and possible addition in the hope that one might work, maybe.

Until Floridians agree to legalize medical marijuana, I must continue to skirt the underbelly of society to obtain a substance deemed illegal & harmful in order to find relief for a medically-diagnosed, debilitating disease.

D: In August of 2009 my helicopter crashed while I was working as a Flight Paramedic for a local government agency in Florida. I am medically retired and fully disabled. I've had numerous surgeries but am left with severe chronic pain. I am dependent on large doses of daily narcotics to make the pain bearable but they only do so much and carry many dangers as well as side effects which I must take additional medication to deal with. I was a Paramedic for 20 years and cannot recall a single patient I had to treat as a result of them using marijuana. I have, however, treated narcotic overdoses, many fatal which is why I'd like to stop taking them or significantly decrease the amount I take. I served the residents of Florida and am paying a heavy price. I have no regrets because I know I made a difference in many lives. I'm now asking the residents of Florida to make a difference in my life.

J (47):  I found myself one day serverely injured from an on-the-job injury while working as an EMT. Eventually I was put on pain medication, and it wasn't long after that I began having bowel trouble, feeling fatigued, and eventually sleep apnea. I left NYC and sought out Rhode Island and medical marijuana. I stopped the pain medication and relied on medical marijuana. I eventually felt well enough to start exercising and was up to 5 miles a day. I decided to move to FL and vote for the 1st time in my life. I was very disappointed. I suffer from severe back pain with chronic cramps and nerve pain. Chronic narrow angle closure glaucoma. CPRS on my right foot. And PTSD. I hope one of my conditions will qualify me.

M: I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis which is aggravated in the extreme by heat. As I live in Florida, the pseudo-exacerbations with which I have to contend are frequent and include impaired mobility, pain, visual disturbance, crippling fatigue, and- in my case- violent headaches. At times and in a state where it is legal I've tried medical marijuana and it has been extraordinarily helpful. Please- do not deny sufferers the legal option to manage their pain. We're already suffering enough.

D (44): I was doing the pain medicine for a while and it took over my life. The addiction to those prescription pills almost ruined my life. I then moved to AZ and they had medical marijuana. I was able to live a normal life with the medical marijuana. Now that I am living back in Florida I live my life in PAIN with no relief. I do not want the pills and the addiction. As human beings we all deserve to live a pain free life. The medicine works in more than one way. We need this law passed or I will never have a good day.

J (49): I became a multiple amputee almost 25 years ago. Almost immediately I began to suffer unbearable phantom pain. After being prescribed and trying multiple pharmaceuticals to help with my condition, my doctor and I settled on Percocet for relief. Although it did help with the phantom pain it changed my personality drastically. It almost cost me my marriage and my family. One afternoon I was talking to a fellow amputee about my phantom pain. He asked me how badly did I want to stop taking narcotics and find something that really worked. You can imagine my answer. He took me to his car, lit a joint and offered it to me. All my life I had been told that ANY drug is bad. After calmly talking to me I was reassured that I would NOT become a homicidal maniac and I shared that cannabis cigarette with him. He approached me about a half an hour later and asked how my phantom pain was. I replied, "What phantom pain?" That was nearly fifteen years ago. Once in a while I still get a severe attack but they are few and far between. About 6 months ago I was arrested for possession of marijuana. The judge in my case, in open court, expressed sympathy for me but said because I live in FL his hands were tied by the laws of the state. I'm not interested in growing it, I don't want to sell it and I don't want to break the law. I simply want a medicine that works for my ailment and marijuana works!

A: My youngest [child], Katelyn, was diagnosed with a catastrophic form of epilepsy called "infantile spasms" at just 6 months of age on October 31, 2006. She is now extremely delayed and has to take AED's daily. If we were able to try medical marijuana we would be able to eliminate most, if not all, of those medicines and be only on medical marijuana. There are many who question the long term effects of marijuana but I also question the long term effects of all of these prescription medicines she has taken over the past seven years since being diagnosed with infantile spasms. It surely cannot be any worse and truly worth the try.

A (54): Three years ago I found out my COPD and emphysema had reached the moderate stage. My father died from COPD and emphysema so I knew of the suffering and the horrible side effects of the pharmaceuticals given for these diseases. In my research, I discovered the great benefits that cannabis has on COPD and emphysema. The pharmaceutical medicines that are given to me as a bronchodilator make my heart race, make me nervous, make me not be able to sleep, make me not feel like eating and just make me sick. Cannabis is a great bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory, expectorant and helps me sleep and eat. It was my life saver, until the police destroyed my garden and now are trying to call me a criminal.
Dr. M: I have a patient who has had MS for 32 years and has been able to remain active and ambulatory. In recent years the pain and spasticity of MS has become horrific and is not relieved by conventional medications. I referred the patient to a cannabis physician in California who prescribed medical marijuana. The patient has reported complete pain relief without fatigue and reduction in spasticity. The other benefit has been the bowel dysfunction which renders MS patients constipated. Certain hybrid strains of cannabis alleviate this incapacitating problem. Many of my patients with HIV, diabetic neuropathy, chronic Lyme, MS, and cancer have embraced Cannabis to improve their quality of life. Pain and nausea cause physical and mental decompensation. Alleviating these aspects allow healing to occur.

L: Mine is not a story of success. My mother had ovarian cancer and had three major surgeries and chemo for three years before passing. The chemo made her ill and weak. The meds they gave her for nausea did not work. The meds they gave her for pain did not work. She had no appetite and was wasting away before our eyes. This was in the early 1990's before the medicinal marijuana movement. I offered to get marijuana for my mother to try because there was already literature that indicated marijuana was useful for treating pain and nausea associated with cancers and chemo. She refused solely because it was illegal. Mom went from a robust 120 pounds to 75 pounds when she finally passed. Why are we still fighting for legal access to a natural herbal treatment that would provide relief and improve quality of life for terminal patients 23 years after my mother passed?

D: I suffer from debilitating arthritis, predominantly in my knee and ankle joints. This has been an ongoing issue since my early twenties. Over time this condition has worsened to the point where now, in my fifties, the medical answer is daily doses of OXYCODONE. Having no desire to become addicted to such a drug I researched and experimented with marijuana. I have found that a small amount of marijuana before bedtime stops the aches and spasms and allows me to get sleep without the opiates. I only wish I had thought of it years ago; I could have avoided a considerable amount of chronic pain and discomfort.

A (69): I grew up in California and was told I had Borderline Glaucoma. I smoked Medical Marijuana for about 7 years and kept my Glaucoma under control. I moved to Florida about 8 months ago and had to stop smoking or my pain management doctor said he would drop me from their pain program if I continued to test positive. Over the past 7 months my Glaucoma has gotten so bad I had to have surgery in both eyes and have lost vision and also have migraine headaches. I started smoking again (illegally) and have been maintaining my vision and have controlled my migraine headaches by smoking marijuana.

M (34): I’m an Army Veteran who suffers from combat PTSD and a lower back condition after two combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. I was depressed, afraid and isolated all the time from family and friends. The VA prescribed me narcotic pain medication and Xanax to treat my condition, and it honestly only caused more problems for me and my immediate family. During a trip to California, a friend of mine there offered me some of his medical marijuana to relieve my symptoms and pain. Within an hour of ingesting the medication I wanted to go out and enjoy myself. My anxiety went away and I had a smile on my face. My mother, who has always been against marijuana, noticed the change in my personality immediately. After spending the week in California taking medical marijuana, my mother no longer opposed it because she felt she had her son back. I left with a fresh take on life but came back to Florida to fight a new battle. I now have to break the law to responsibly medicate and function on a daily basis. I have to risk losing my job and some medical benefits through the VA because I have marijuana in my system. It's a shame that something as simple and gentle as marijuana is illegal and narcotic pharmaceuticals are considered the best option. I have been told by VA doctors and policemen that if I want to ingest medical marijuana I need to move to a state that has legalized it. I don't want to leave Florida. This is my home and I have a family here. I just want to be a functional member of society and provide a life for my family they deserve. I just want to be the person I was before the war and medical marijuana is the only thing so far that has helped me with that.

T: I suffer from Crohn's Disease, Lympho-cytic Colitis, and stress induced IBS, and I KNOW this plant will help me with my pain and quality of life!! I am on so many prescriptions and steroids I'm going crazy! I am prescribed 2 different steroids, 2 anti inflammatory meds, 2 pain killers, 1 muscle relaxer and 1 anti-acid. Because of this I'm very short tempered and always cloudy headed. I get kidney pain regularly because of all the pills I take. I have been prescribed Marinol but it’s too expensive. I need a cheaper, more natural alternative!

N (28): "When I was diagnosed with leukemia, what I feared most was potential pain. I'm one of the lucky ones because the pain and anti-nausea medications worked for me, and I didn't lose my appetite even after 5 rounds of chemotherapy over the course of 7 months. I am saddened and angered to think of people who are dying and suffering when there is a medicine that could work for them: marijuana. I've been fortunate so far, but I still have to face the prospect of long term side effects from all the medications I took. I've never done drugs or smoked marijuana. After reading the evidence and testimonials, I had no choice but to put my stereotypes aside and become pro-legalization. I hope others will do the same." 

J: "My brother died two years ago from throat cancer. He went through many sessions of radiation and chemo. Fortunately we were able to procure marijuana to relieve his nausea from the chemo and to relieve his pain from the cancer. My family is all in for medical marijuana."

R: "I was in an automobile accident that left me with RSD and cervical spine herniations with spinal cord compression. I was on six different medications and was not getting any better. I was losing time with my children due to severe chronic pain. I was told I need surgery but no guarantee that it would stop the pain and because I am in my thirties I would need another surgery in my fifties to reinsert the screws. My pain had me at the point of considering suicide and no one could fix me. I spent hours online and I came across several chronic pain forums and people were talking about how they found relief using marijuana. I am now off ALL prescription medications and I am able to work a full time job while also finishing my bachelor degree and raising two boys. It has given me my life back when I had no hope. It is time to give people a choice that will help heal them!"

T: "Myself and my husband both suffer from Crohn's disease. We have both experienced relief of nausea from smoking. I also suffer with Fibromyalgia and have found smoking marijuana to ease the pain in my legs and help with the depression and anxiety brought on by my illness." 

L: "As a person living with Multiple Sclerosis I believe marijuana would be most effective on the sporadic nerve pains that I get, as well as the anxiety that comes with relapses as they can be very frightening. Not to mention the help with appetite, some general aches and pains and also spasticity. MS has no cure, so living life to the fullest is very important and the MS drugs that are out there make me feel worse. So I believe this would be the best long term medicine for me. Hopefully everyone will start to understand."

D: "I am a retired nurse, and my grandfather had lung cancer - radiation burned his lungs beyond repair. He was taking pain medication which caused him horrible constipation, and then another pill for nausea. When pot was put in his tobacco that ALL stopped. He had much less suffering."

E: "As prior law enforcement I understand the pointless burden that the enforcement of marijuana laws have had on society. As the son of a mother who is winning the battle against breast cancer, I understand the potential benefits of cannabis as treatment. Also, my father just died from a series of medical conditions that, had the medical marijuana option been available, could have enhanced the quality, or even prolonged his life due to the reduced need for consuming pharmaceutical opioids and countless toxic pills."

P: "I am a 7th year cancer survivor and wish that medical marijuana could have been available to me both during and after my radiation treatments and surgery. Regardless, I did use it and it did help give me an appetite and helped me with relaxation and sleeping without any pharmaceutical side effects."

S: "I suffer from Crohn's Disease and have less than 5 feet of intestines left due to multiple surgeries. I'm currently supplementing oral nutrition with IV nutrition in order to survive. This is because I have a very poor appetite and eating is painful for me. I also don't absorb all the nutrients I need from my food because it goes straight through those 5 feet of intestines I have left. I believe marijuana could help relieve my constant nausea; could help with pain and inflammation; and could help increase appetite.  Some of my medications could be reduced or possibly eliminated if marijuana were a legal option."  

S: "In September 2011, I suffered a traumatic brain injury and had a stroke. Due to the trauma, I have been relying on opiates to relieve headaches and help me sleep. I do not like the way these make me feel or the negative side effects, so I began using marijuana. I soon realized that it works better at relieving my headaches and helping me sleep as well as lifts my spirits without any of the negative side effects of opiates."

D (41): "I am a 41 year old male with dwarfism. Having dwarfism or being a little person means I suffer from severe osteoarthritis and chronic back pain resulting from skeletal deformities. I have had over 12 surgeries starting when I was 3 years old to correct these deformities. Chronic incurable pain in the back and the joints can result for many of us in adulthood. I have tried all the major OTC and prescription medications to ease my suffering. Nothing I tried worked very well or very long until I tried smoking cannabis. It makes my pain disappear and disappear in 5 minutes or less. Marijuana makes it possible for me to work as a court mediator, be a present father to my 2 year old daughter and a provider to my family. I should not have to fear losing my job, my daughter or my freedom just because I want to be free from pain."

J on behalf of his son: "My son is 33 years old, and he has a wife and four kids. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. At best guess the doctors gave him 6 to 12 months to live and he should start chemo ASAP to help give him a little more time with his family. An old friend visited him and let him try an Indica type of medical marijuana that helped him with pain, nausea and let him get a good night’s sleep, unlike the doctor prescribed drugs that fell short of expectations."

C (33): "I am a naval veteran of OIF/OEF. As a result of my service I have an injury that required 8 pins, 2 bone grafts, and 1 plate. I am constantly in chronic pain, more when it rains. This puts my ankle in constant pain, which aggravates my limp, which spreads to my knee, back, and ultimately my other leg. Over the years I have been prescribed pain relievers for the pain. I do not like prescription pills. I have MORE than 20 friends who have overdosed and died from prescription pills. As a result of my chronic pain, I use marijuana for my pain control, and I am a healthier, more stable person."

L: "I have Fibromyalgia. I spent two years trying to get a diagnosis and four more years trying to find something to manage the chronic pain. I tried multiple prescription medications, and spent thousands of dollars on nutritional supplements and alternative treatments. Nothing helped! I had an incredibly hard time working full time and I had to leave a job I loved. At my wit's end and fearing that I was damaging my liver with all the medication, I tried marijuana. It has been life-changing for me! My pain is completely under control, I sleep much better, and I am working at a job I love! I've only taken two sick days in the last two years...and those were due to a stomach virus."

B: "My wife was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and placed on a chemo pump 24/7 just before the hurricanes hit our area. We were without power and water for 2 weeks while I took her to radiation appts. Her suffering was beyond description. Since then, I have met many survivors and caregivers who confirmed the suffering that is endured. MMJ, smoked or eaten would likely relieve symptoms and create an appetite. My wife would not try for fear of losing our kids because of the law. Friends and I often speak of and cry for those we have lost, and we hope for the day when this ludicrous law will change for future patients."

A: "My friend was recently shot in his left leg, and the bullet grazed the main artery and shattered his femoral bone; this was a few months ago, and was an innocent bystander. He was taken to the hospital immediately and went through 12 hours of surgery and woke up in immense pain. The surgeons placed a titanium rod in his leg and he still has shattered pieces of bone in his leg. When he was released from the hospital he mainly used cannabis to subdue the pain in his leg, and it minimized his use for pain killers, removing the possibility of addiction. To this day he still uses cannabis to cope with the sharp pains in his leg. Cannabis is a holistic approach to healthcare and should not be withheld from the people who need it to relieve their pain."

J: "To avoid paralysis, I had to have a 4 level fusion of my neck. This procedure has left me with constant pain making it difficult to turn my neck. The legal pain medication that was prescribed to me leaves me in a stupor that makes it impossible to live my life in a functional manner. Marijuana simply helps me cope with the pain and allows me to function." 

A (30): "I spent 3 years in the US Army, even going to war in Iraq. I suffer with PTSD, chronic migraines, back pain, knee pain and insomnia. I have tried everything that could possibly be prescribed. I used to live in Washington State and a friend suggested I get a license for Medical Cannabis since “normal methods” of medication and treatments have not worked. I was blown away by the positive effects it had on me for sleep and pain control, and even with my PTSD it kept me from snapping for no reason. I just recently moved to Florida and I no longer have access to that type of medication anymore and it has impacted me greatly in a negative way. I can no longer sleep, I’m in constant pain and my PTSD does affect me more than it did when I was using Medical Cannabis. I really urge anyone reading this to please give people in Florida the right to use Medical Cannabis. It really is an amazing and natural way for people to get help."

T: "I am a Vietnam Veteran. I've been in combat and have seen man at his worst. The nightmares and daily depression that I was going through were almost unbearable. I tried to drink myself to death and really didn't find that so satisfying. However, I found that every time I smoked a joint I not only felt more at ease, but it helped with my depression. I really have used it most for sleep. As any combat veteran will tell you, we don't sleep very well. For close to 45 yrs, I have smoked pot and will continue to do so."

C (23): "I have a beautiful son. When he was born, my practically dormant bipolar disorder went beyond haywire. I took the meds, I did the mood stabilizers, the anti-depressants, all they did was drain my wallet and make me unable to eat or concentrate. Prozac, in fact, triggered my worst manic episode to date. At one point, I ran out of meds and money. But I paid close attention to my moods. I noticed when I smoked, I was more stable. Months later, I'm stable. I'm no longer swinging back and forth. Medical marijuana has helped me more than any psychiatrist; it essentially gave my son a mother. A few months ago, I was looking into disability. Now, I'm looking for a job."

E: "I suffer from depression, insomnia, and essential tremors in my arms, hands, and legs. The tremors make it difficult for me to stand for long periods or write clearly. Anti-depressants only work on 60% of patients. Unfortunately, I am one of the 40% they don't help. Marijuana can be used successfully for treating all of my conditions. I am 100% for this and thank all of you for the effort!"

G: "I am a United States disabled Veteran. I have Lupus and chronic pain. I been on a morphine pump for 12 years and am still in pain. I am in bed 24/7 because of the pain, unless I smoke marijuana. The doctors will not let me use the most effective pain medication because it is not legal in this state. I gave years of my life for freedom in this country, yet can not get the medicine I need."

J: "I am 22 years old and have been suffering from spasmodic torticollis since summer of 2004. Every 3 to 4 months I get 15 to 18 botox shots in my neck. Eventually, at a undetermined point, the botox will quit working and I will be out of luck, and besides the little relief botox brings, it is still a controlled poison."

C: " I am so happy to hear this is FINALLY coming to our area. I am an ex-world champion mma fighter that got hit by a semi truck and herniated tons of discs as well getting a condition called spinal stenosis. I currently take up to 500 pills a month and all I really need is to be able to grow my own garden. I am very familiar with prop.215 as I am an ex california resident. Thank you so much again."

C: "I have suffered from seizures for nine years. I have been on several different combinations of pills to try to stop them. Nothing has worked. My main seizure trigger is stress. Doctors have told me to take a pill when I'm feeling stressed but it takes 30 min. to an hour for it to take affect and I have had seizures while waiting. But I have found that if I just take a couple of hits from marijuana I calm down and no seizure occurs. I would rather see marijuana be legal then be a guinee pig anymore for the legal pill pushers."

J: "I have epilepsy. In 2002, the National Institute of Health performed brain surgery to try and stop the seizures. They messed up the surgery, so my seizures continue to this day. Marijuana helps control the seizures, helps with nausea and vomiting after the seizures. The doctors at NIH know this."

K (38): "A close relative has been diagnosed with Parkinson's. Marijuana has been proven to be an effective medication. They could avoid brain surgery by having access to this medicine."

J on behalf of R (died at age 86) in St. Petersburg: "As a law-abiding citizen, he was unable to get access to the medicine that could have stopped his nausea, raised his appetite, eased his pains, and lightened his mood. Without the medicine he lost the battle of his life to cancer."

M of Clearwater: "I am a cancer patient undergoing chemo therapy. Many of the medications that cost thousands of dollars are ineffective and still leave me nauseous and throwing up. While I doubt that Marijuana will stop the throwing up, I do believe it will ease the nausea. Please reform the laws so patients like me can have access to this herbal remedy."

K G. on behalf of her daughter (37): "In 1991, my then 19 year old daughter suffered a seizure. It was her first and there was a chance that she might never have another. Six months later she did and was put on traditional seizure medication. She had 2 more seizures over the next couple of years, although she was compliant with her meds. After graduating from College, she moved to California and when she began seeing her new Neurologist, he recommended to her that she get a card permitting her to purchase medicinal marijuana from a dispensary in her area. He suggested that cannabinoids were effective in helping to control epilepsy and that the medication that she was taking would be enhanced. My daughter is now 37 years old and has not had a seizure since becoming a patient of the medical marijuana dispensary."

I am 43 years old and have suffered from Bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia my entire adult life.  My husband is a 46 year old combat veteran who served 3 tours in Iraq as a sniper and suffers from severe PTSD and a broken back and neck.  After years of experimenting with our doctors with different medications, both of us had the same persisting symptoms...sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, a constant feeling of irritation and daily pain.  For the last several years we have been using marijuana to treat those symptoms, which helps us more than any of the medications we were treated with and able to give up.  Waking up feeling rested, being able to go in public without fear, the ability to get our point across without getting angry, and even an hour pain free... unless you have suffered these things you could never fully appreciate how valuable they are.  Our only problem is that we now live in fear of prosecution, simply for taking care of ourselves in the healthiest way possible

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