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“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” –Bill Cosby
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A Bike Ride and T-Shirts Means Free Mammograms For San Antionio Residents

posted by:
ErikaM

When athletes from the Incarnate Word High School in San Antonio, Texas saw that the less fortunate women in their community were not getting access to life-saving diagnostic tests that can help detect the first signs and symptoms of breast cancer, they decided to help out by selling breast cancer awareness shirts. They raised $4000 for the Christus Santa Rosa Foundation Mobile Mammography Unit. The MMU reaches out to underprivileged women in the community gives them access to affordable breast cancer screening tests.

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The school’s Athletic Director April Fricke was so moved by what her students did that she decided to match their earnings by embarking on a 250 mile journey from Freeport to San Antonio on her bike. She journeyed for 3 days under the sweltering heat and harsh winds. It wasn’t easy, even for an athletic gal like Coach Fricke but she says that the journey is worth it if she can convince women to get the help that the need. The funds raised by the athletes and Fricke will be used to provide free mammograms to women who can’t afford it.

We often think that we need to do something big to be able to make a difference, but Coach Fricke and her students proved that even the simplest gestures like selling t-shirts and riding a bike can help women in your community get better access to mammograms.

If you also want to do a bike challenge in honor of breast cancer awareness month, we suggest selling or giving away these cute pink sleeves to protect arms from sun and wind:

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Or these customizable T-shirts:

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Can Aspirin Prevent Breast Cancer Recurrence?

posted by:
ErikaM

Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory prescribed to people who are at risk for developing heart disease. However, a recent study suggests that Aspirin and other Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can do something more than prevent heart attacks – it may also lessen the incidence of breast cancer recurrence.

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The researchers from the University of Texas in Austin found that there is a link between the women’s use of pain killers and the incidence of recurrence. The study followed 440 obese women diagnosed with Estrogen receptor positive breast cancer for 7 years.  Those who used aspirin or other NSAIDs as painkillers (150 out of 440) were not only less likely to have recurrence, but the cancer took longer to come back as well (6.5 years vesus 4.2 for non-painkiller users). The study, which was published in the Cancer Research Journal revealed that patients who took aspirin every day can lower their recurrence risk by 52%.

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Researchers believe that Aspirin’s anti-inflammatory property is to be commended for this victory against breast cancer. Among other things, inflammation has long been known to be the primary cause of obesity and has often been a hindrance to the effective use of hormone therapy in obese women with cancer. Increased fat in the body means increased production of an enzyme called aromatase which is responsible in producing estrogen derivative estradiol. An increased level of estrogen in the body is associated with the proliferation of cancer cells – this is the main reason why drugs that target estrogen do not work well on obese women.

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Although researchers admit that there is still a lot of work to be done, they all agree that giving survivors an NSAID like aspirin once a day can only lead to better patient outcome. Another important factor to consider is that the women involved in the study are over 40 years old. Menopause brings about hormonal changes that increase the likelihood of these women to develop heart disease.   There is also a strong need to educate both men and women about the importance of weight control, a healthy diet and regular exercise since these factors are also important in preventing cancer recurrence.

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When these women were popping Aspirin for pain, they were unknowingly taking a drug that helped prevent their cancer from coming back as well. If this pans out, then the answer to slowing down breast cancer will turn out to have been an over the counter medication that has been widely available for years. Aspirin is relatively easy to take every day, affordable and accessible to women worldwide.

Our verdict? If you’re in your 40s and have a strong family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about the possibility of being on aspirin therapy. As long as you are under the care of a physician, aspirin may be able to help you in preventing heart disease and cancer.

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Breast Cancer and Men: How A Change In Attitude Can Save A Life

posted by:
ErikaM

Breast Cancer is often stereotyped as a woman’s disease. We often forget that men have breasts too – and that they can carry the BRCA gene mutation just like any other woman on the planet.

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HISBreastCancer.org founder Harvey Singer was devastated when he found out that his sister Vicky has been diagnosed with breast cancer, but he didn’t think that it had anything to do with his own health.

After her third bout with breast cancer, Vicky confirmed her biggest fear – that was positive for the BRCA gene mutation. The women in her family were quick to follow her footsteps and immediately subjected themselves to genetic screening. They became religious about getting mammograms and performed breast self examination regularly… but what about the men in her family?

Unfortunately, Harvey and the other men in Vicky’s family didn’t much about it… after all, they’re guys… isn’t breast cancer a woman’s disease?

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A few years later, Harvey got the wake-up call of his life. He was diagnosed with breast cancer. He finally had his genes tested and found out that just like his sister, he was positive for the breast cancer gene. This prompted him to start HIS Breast Cancer in an effort to educate men about the reality of breast cancer in men.

Although the BRCA gene is more likely to manifest itself in women, men and women both have a 50/50 chance of passing on the gene to their offspring. Women who tested positive for the mutation have a 50-80% chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Men’s chances are considerably smaller at 7%, although studies have shown that BRCA positive men have a 25% chance of getting prostate cancer. Harvey is a testament to this fact – he developed prostate cancer 18 months after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest barrier in the early diagnosis of breast cancer in men is gender stereotyping. Men are more reclusive when it comes to going to the doctor and are more prone to use denial when confronted with even just the possibility of having a ‘woman’s disease’. There are also fewer organizations and websites that provide support for those who seek information about breast cancer in men.

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These are just some barriers that HISBreastCancer.org is trying to break through. They want to spread the word that male breast cancer is a reality and that like women, men with a strong family history of breast cancer or any other cancer can greatly benefit from getting tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2.

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If more than 1 member of your family has been diagnosed with breast cancer, encourage your whole family to undergo for genetic screening or regular physical check-ups every year. Make it a family event – you never know how many lives you can save with a simple test.

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Is Your Birth Control Pill Putting You At Risk For Breast Cancer?

posted by:
ErikaM

The birth control pill has revolutionized the way we think about contraception since its introduction in the 1960s. It has empowered over 100 million women from around the world to take charge over their own bodies. Aside from that, birth control pills also have many non-contraceptive benefits such as better skin and making periods more manageable. While it is true that there are side effects to using birth control pills, most experts and women agree that the benefits almost always outweighed the risks.

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But what if the risks involve breast cancer? A recently published study in The Cancer Research Journal suggests that use of recent use of estrogen-based birth control pills may increase breast cancer risk by as high as 50 percent. The study, done by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington in Seattle involved 1,102 women in their 40s who are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. What makes this study unique is that the researchers really dug into the women’s entire birth control pill use history instead of relying only on self-report.

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Why estrogen?

Some birth control pills work by increasing the levels of the hormone Estrogen in the body. Estrogen prevents ovulation by stopping the pituitary gland from producing the follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. However, the effects of estrogen are not targeted to only affect the pituitary gland – it also stimulates the breast cells to proliferate. Experts believe that breast cell proliferation doesn’t always mean breast enlargement – it may also trigger the growth of cancer cells in the some women.

The study divided the women into three groups depending on the amount of estrogen in their birth control regimen and studied the incidence of breast cancer in each group. The results showed that women who took high dose estrogen pills (ethinyl estradiol or 80 micrograms of mestranol) were 2.7 times more likely to develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Meanwhile, those who took the moderate dose pills (30 to 35 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol or 50 micrograms of mestranol) were 1.6 times more likely. Women in the low dose population (20 micrograms of ethinyl estradiol) showed no risk.

Should this be a reason to stop taking estrogen pills?

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This study prompts health practitioners and women to take a closer look at their birth control regimen. Most pills in the market today are in the moderate and low dose range and high dose estrogen pills are only prescribed to women to treat medical conditions.

Although pills are the most widely used birth control method in the US, each woman should know that all birth control methods is a highly personal choice. Risks and benefits  should be thoroughly explained to her by a professional before she chooses the best method for herself.

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Is The Breast Cancer Miracle Drug Finally Here? Puma Biotech CEO Says It Is.

posted by:
ErikaM

Los Angeles, CA – The CEO of PUMA Biotechnology announced Tuesday that their drug neratinib has the ability to reduce the incidence of breast cancer reoccurrence by 33%.

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The two year Clinical Trial involved 2,821 women diagnosed with early stage HER-2 Positive breast cancer and who had their cancerous tissues removed via surgery. Some of the women received neratinib as adjunctive treatment to Herceptin (trastuzumab) while others were put in a Herceptin-placebo regimen.

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Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a drug that is prescribed specifically for women with HER-2 positive breast cancer. It targets protein receptors that encourages the proliferation of cancer cells. Herceptin is commonly used with other types of chemotherapy drugs and now, it seems that it has found its perfect match with the arrival of neratinib.

Alan Auerbach, CEO of Puma Biotechnology

Alan Auerbach, CEO of Puma Biotechnology

In the words of Puma CEO Alan Auerbach the results of the trial were “pleasing” – with those who received the neratinib-Herceptin regimen not only performing better clinically but has a remarkable 33% chance of disease-free survival as well. Disease free is defined as the period where the patient is alive and without any signs of cancer reoccurrence.

In a statement, Auerbach reports, “We are very pleased with the results…This represents the first trial with a HER2 targeted agent that has shown a statistically significant benefit in the extended adjuvant setting, which we believe provides a meaningful point of differentiation for neratinib in the treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer.

As soon as the statement was released, Puma Biotech’s shares more than tripled in value, making Auerbach an overnight billionaire. After closing at $59.03 the previous day, Puma’s shares skyrocketed to $169.48 the following day! This just goes to show how much the public is clamoring for a drug like neratinib.

Puma Biotech also announced that they would be applying for U.S. regulatory approval in the first quarter of 2015 which means that we might have to wait a while longer before the we can get our their hands on this miracle drug. If all goes well, neratinib can really make a difference in the lives of millions of women and their families across the world.

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We’d like to think that neratinib and the drugs that will follow it are not only the brainchild of certain companies, but the culmination of the efforts of breast cancer advocates who tirelessly raise money to support cancer research. It is really inspiring to know that developing drugs like neratibib and other breakthrough cancer therapies is possible if we work together.

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In the meantime, let us continue to support these advocates by donating or participating in their events. Who knows? Maybe one day, through our combined efforts we can finally find the cure to breast cancer. Fingers crossed.

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Do You Touch Yourself? Chrissy Amphlett Says You Should

posted by:
ErikaM

When singer Chrissy Amphlett passed away April of 2013 from Breast Cancer, she had one final wish – for her song ‘I Touch Myself’ to become an anthem for breast cancer awareness.

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Chrissy’s case is all too familiar for women who were diagnosed to be in the late stages of breast cancer – her tumor was not detected in her yearly mammograms or breast ultrasounds.  Chrissy found her lump when she was performing breast self examination and urged her physician to have it biopsied. She was diagnosed in 2010 and bravely fought cancer and multiple sclerosis until her untimely demise in 2013 at the age of 53.

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Chrissy’s plea has not fallen on deaf ears as her wish was granted by her cousin Little Pattie and breast cancer survivor Olivia Newton John along with 8 other distinguished Australian music artists in their 2014 revival of ‘I Touch Myself’.  Watch the video here.

If you remember the song from your younger years, then you know that ‘I Touch Myself’ is quite a catchy tune. After listening to it a few hours ago, I still haven’t been able to stop humming the chorus!

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I really cannot think of a better song to help Australia’s Cancer Council NSW campaign directed at encouraging women to perform routine breast checks every month. During her battle with breast cancer, Chrissy was very passionate about teaching women how to harness a power they thought they didn’t have – the power to get in touch with their own bodies and therefore in be charge of their overall health.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Chrissy’s widower shared how the singer wanted to change the world’s mindset about personal health stating “’She (Chrissy) would have wanted us to be more in touch with ourselves and to listen to what’s going on inside physically, and to be more in charge of our destiny and not wait for doctors or advisers to be in charge of us.

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Being proactive about our breast (and overall) health is our best defense against the big C. I mean, how many of us leave the task of finding a lump to our yearly medical checkup? I know I have been guilty of this for the past few years… getting annual breast ultrasounds but not bothering to perform breast self examination every month. If you’re uncomfortable or don’t know  the proper way to touch yourself, go to your nearest health care facility and have someone show you how. BSE doesn’t take more than 10 minutes and it is really easy to do!

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We hope that the next time someone asks, “Do you touch yourself?” your answer would e a resounding YES!

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Dreams Do Come True: Penn State Lady Lions Raise $1 Million For Breast Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

In 2006, Penn State Lady Lions Coach Rene Portland was thinking of a way to attract more fans to their basketball games. It wasn’t just about filling a gymnasium with people – Coach Portland was determined to make the event meaningful and memorable for the girls and their loyal fans. Thus, Pink Zone at Penn State was born.

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Since the first game against the Wisconsin Badgers in 2007, Pink Zone at Penn State has evolved into an annual event that has recently surpassed the $1 Million mark in donations for breast cancer research, survivor support and awareness programs. Did the Lady Lions expect to raise this much out of an annual basketball game? Pink Zone Executive Director Miriam Powell certainly did not.

There are so many people who work behind the scenes to make Pink Zone at Penn State successful. When the moment arrived when we realized our hard work had literally paid off, there was an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction combined with complete awe and amazement.  The moment I realized we had surpassed our fundraising goal this year honestly brought tears to my eye…

Powell and the entire Pink Zone team exceeded their fundraising goals for 2014, raising a total of $310,000 which brought total donations to an amazing $1,135,317.723 for the past 8 years. It was a real community effort, with local businesses and press pitching in to support the cause whichever way they can.

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In an effort to reach out to more survivors in the Penn State area, the donations were given to several local hospitals and charities including the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, the Kay Yow Fund and the Mount Nittany Health System. Funds from the Pink Zone has helped Mount Nittany open the Penn State Lady Lion Basketball Cancer Resource Center and purchase a lifesaving breast cancer specimen imager that aids in the prompt diagnosis of breast cancer. The event is also instrumental in funding the hospital’s 5-year breast health navigator program which enables women get access to coordinated breast care from early diagnosis, treatment and towards recovery.

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Every year, Pink Zone recognizes the bravery of survivors and remembering the fight left behind by those who have succumbed to the disease. During the 2014 event, 698 survivors were honored by some 12,000 fans at the Bryce Jordan Center. Isn’t it amazing how a simple basketball game snowballed into an entire community of people who go out of their way to help?

Let this story inspire us all to do what we can for others who are affected by breast cancer. Remember:

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Relay for Life: A Community’s Effort to End Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

No matter how their family and friends tell them “I know how you feel” or “It will be alright”, women living with breast cancer often feel alone in their predicament. They shy away from their community because they don’t want the pity, charity or special treatment that comes with the big C. This is why we as a community should make an extra effort to reach out and show that they are loved and cared for and that there are people in their community who are willing to spend time, money and effort to help them in their fight against cancer.

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Relay for Life is a great example of a community based event for cancer. It involves several teams where members take turns walking along a path or a track for 24 hours. Teams and supporters are welcome to camp around the track or event area and are treated to numerous games and activities throughout the event. It is a family-friendly event that not only raises cancer awareness, but promotes community camaraderie as well. It’s a like having a giant sleepover party with a cause!

While activities and games are left to the organizer’s imagination, all Relay for Life events across the world hold these three beautiful ceremonies:

Survivor’s Lap – You never know how important birthdays are until you or someone you love may be having their last. This is why Survivor’s Lap has got to be the most moving of all three ceremonies. Cancer Survivors take the first lap (a Victory Lap, in our opinion) while being cheered on by the community. They are followed by their families, friends and caregivers who gave themselves unselfishly to care for their loved ones.

Luminaria – This candlelit ceremony is for remembering loves ones we have lost to cancer. Candles line the track in honor of their courageous fight and memories they have left behind. 

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Fight Back – An inspiring way to bring the whole community together against cancer, the Fight Back Ceremony solidifies every participant’s emotional commitment to put an end to the disease. This involves doing what we can (both as individuals and as a group) to raise awareness, gather funds and propel action towards finding a cure.

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Cancer is not a personal struggle… not when millions of people across the world from all genders, religion, races and economic backgrounds are being diagnosed every day.  Contact Relay for Life today and learn how you can start the fight in your own community.

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How You Can Help: Make Strides, Make A Difference

posted by:
ErikaM

We’ve talked about numerous charitable organizations in this blog and you may feel that they’re all the same. The point we want to get across is this: they need help – our help. No matter how small or big the contribution, these organizations are largely dependent on the help of ordinary people like you and me to take the fight in our own communities.  

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Slowly but surely is the way most participants in a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk describe their 3 or 5 mile journey towards the finish line. They aren’t hard core athletes or anything- they’re just ordinary people –survivors and their family and friends – who want to take part in something that can make a difference in the lives of people living with breast cancer today and in the future.

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The American Cancer Society founded Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in 1993. The organization had two main purposes –first, to raise awareness to the disease and second, to raise money to fund ground breaking disease. They know that more and more women are told that they have breast cancer every day and they need all the support they can get. To answer this call, Making Strides:

  • Supports fund raising events in all 50 states all year round.
  • Makes available relevant information on detection, treatment and recovery from breast cancer available 24/7 on their website
  • Provides connects those who are battling with breast cancer programs that can help them through their ordeal like:

Road To Recovery – transport assistance to and from treatment centers
Hope Lodge – provide housing to survivors who travel far to get treatment.
Look Good…Feel Better – a joint project with the Professional Beauty Association where survivors are taught ways on how they can cope with the physical changes that come with cancer treatment.

  • Supports early detection with their Mammogram Reminder – a program where participants receive an email on their birth month and receive a recommendation about which type of breast cancer screening suits them best.

The Making Strides Foundation believes so much in the difference early detection makes that they are campaigning for a federal program that will enable women from all walks of life to have access to lifesaving diagnostic tests for breast cancer.

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MSABC and the ACS are also funding private and government based research in an effort to find cure to cancer. We find it beautiful how they believe that funding cancer research should not be limited to a single kind of cancer – because the cure for one may be the cure for all.

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The cure may still be in the future, but the important thing is that we are making our way towards that future with organizations like MSABC.

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Breast Cancer Is The NFL’s Most Crucial Catch

posted by:
ErikaM

Early Detection is the most important factor in Breast Cancer Survivorship. According to Cancer.org, there is a 93-100% chance of a 5 year or more survival rate if disease is caught in Stages 0, I or II.  It is in these stages that breast cancer is most responsive to treatment and women who are screened regularly have the best chances of being diagnosed early and surviving the disease.

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A Crucial Catch is a joint project between the National Football League and the American Cancer Society that aims to raise awareness of the importance of getting yearly mammograms for women aged 40 and above. The campaign has two important points: (1) educate women across America about the importance of early detection and (2) raise money to enable underprivileged women to have access to breast cancer screening through the ACS’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment or CHANGE Program.

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 This fall, the entire NFL will be participating in the cause by wearing breast cancer paraphernalia during games. They will be using pink footballs, towels, gloves, cleats and there will even be a Crucial Catch stencil on the 25-yard lines in all of the games. The crowd can also lend a hand by participating in the auction of items worn by the players or coaches or by purchasing items on sale on the stand

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 If you are a fan of football and passionate about stopping Breast Cancer in its tracks, you and your local football team can partner up with the NFL and ACS and sign up with Crucial Catch! Here are some ways you can help:

  • Contact your local football team and recruit them to the cause! Dedicate one (or several) game during the season to be a Crucial Catch game to raise awareness about early detection and raise money for breast cancer groups in your community.
  • Honor breast cancer survivors in your community.
  • Pledge donations from patrons and local businesses. They can sponsor pink themed uniforms, giveaways or paraphernalia or make direct donations to the American Cancer Society in behalf of your community.
  • Your neighbors and friends can also participate as concessionaires during the game.  They can sell their homemade goodies, services or products during the event and donate a part of their profits to the cause.

Football is a great way to raise awareness about breast cancer because it enables advocates like you to reach and rally behind your cause in just one, energy filled event. Visit Crucial Catch’s website for more information about how you can help!

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