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#1 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
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After reading many posts and threads I am just astounded at the amount of women who get routine yearly exams.
Vaginal exam - if my vagina just up and disappeared, I think I would notice or my partner would.
Pap smears - more dangerous than beneficial. Now, if I had a family history of cervical cancer, then, yes, I could see it being beneficial.
Breast exams - a doctor feeling my breast is not going to know a new lump from an old lump.
Pelvic exams-okay one is enough. As long as you haven't been in an accident or had some illness that caused your pelvis to change, one is enough.
Cervical checks during pregnancy-again, invasive and more dangerous than beneficial.
STD's-can be checked through urine or bloodwork.

Why is it okay for men to know their bodies, but not women?
Men don't have yearly penis exams. If a man has a lump or growth he will most likely go in and get help.

I could go on and on. It just seems that the medical industry is more interested in making money than actually healing or curing.
Anyone else feel like human beings especially females are denied the right to trust themselves and their bodies?
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#2 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 02:13 PM
 
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Hey MamaInTheBoonies!
I have a question for you...and this is seriously me just wanting to learn. I am very interested in why pap smears, pelvics and cervical checks can be more harmful than good. Maybe this is something I'm just really ignorant about : but as a woman who has a routine yearly, I'm very very interested to know if my decision to do that is actually more detrimental to my health than if I chose not to have it done.
Thanks for any info.
Blessings.
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#3 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nntalamu
Hey MamaInTheBoonies!
I have a question for you...and this is seriously me just wanting to learn. I am very interested in why pap smears, pelvics and cervical checks can be more harmful than good. Maybe this is something I'm just really ignorant about : but as a woman who has a routine yearly, I'm very very interested to know if my decision to do that is actually more detrimental to my health than if I chose not to have it done.
Thanks for any info.
Blessings.
It puts you at risk for infection. Also, the tools used are not always sterile. Having friends who work in the medical industry: after the exam the tools are removed and placed in a steamer and then repackaged. They are not tested to see if there are any germs or what not still on them. ie-resistant bacteria that is not killed by the steamers.

One of my many stories-I was in a doctor's office. I refused to let him check my cervix. I told him I would check it myself. He said it was dangerous. I asked. "Why would it be dangerous? I would think it would be more dangerous to have some stranger feeling my cervix, than it would for myself, who knows what to feel for and knows my cervix."
That really blew him out of the water. He agreed.

It would be the same as having someone else clean your ears. They don't know where exactly your eardrum is, while you would know and would not push something deeper inside your ear that would cause it to be damaged, kwim?
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#4 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies
Why is it okay for men to know their bodies, but not women? Men don't have yearly penis exams. If a man has a lump or growth he will most likely go in and get help.
You make a good point. I'm going to see if my dh is interested in a "penis exam" :LOL (just the very mention of it is laughable, yet "vaginal exam" is not... interesting)

My non-cynical answer: Maybe because penile cancer is so very rare, but breast and cervical cancer are more common? I mean, prostate cancer is common in men and men of a certain age are recommended to get that checked regularly as well.

My cynical answer: the yearly checks are money makers and ways of conditioning women to NOT trust their bodies so when it comes time for pregnancy and birth, they will submit willingly to any test and/or procedure you can think of.
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#5 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 02:32 PM
 
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Anyone else feel like human beings especially females are denied the right to trust themselves and their bodies?
no I don't. my cousin has had two different types of reproductive cancers, too bad her instincts weren't capable of diagnosing cancer before it spread to the point of her losing much of her vulva and her uterus and ovaries.
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#6 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Arduinna
no I don't. my cousin has had two different types of reproductive cancers, too bad her instincts weren't capable of diagnosing cancer before it spread to the point of her losing much of her vulva and her uterus and ovaries.
Arduinna

I am not just thinking about instincts, but the right to be educated and not ashamed to feel your own breasts, vulva, vagina, cervix, etc.

It seems like men are allowed to do so, but females are shamed about it, kwim?
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#7 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 02:43 PM
 
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No one stops us from being educated, there are tons of resources available and even Our Bodies Ourselves is in most every bookstore and library. I read my medical charts and get copies of all my test results from my Drs. I don't feel shame from any of my body parts. I'm not sure why shame is being attached to having a Dr run tests for preventative care. Having a pap for early detection of cervical cancer is the same as me having a CT scan to make sure my hodgkins disease hasn't returned.
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#8 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Arduinna
Having a pap for early detection of cervical cancer is the same as me having a CT scan to make sure my hodgkins disease hasn't returned.
I disagree. Many women have no family history of cervical cancer, so then the Pap Smear becomes more dangerous than beneficial.
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#9 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:19 PM
 
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cervical cancer like most cancers is not related to family history. even in cases where there is family history like breast cancer the vast majority of cases are from people with no family history and most people with a family history do not get breast cancer for example.
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#10 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SKK
My non-cynical answer: Maybe because penile cancer is so very rare, but breast and cervical cancer are more common? I mean, prostate cancer is common in men and men of a certain age are recommended to get that checked regularly as well.
I also think this is just another money maker. A male who knows his body is going to know if something is wrong. A doctor checking a prostate for the first time is not going to know if it is normal sized or not. By the time the prostate is huge and swollen, the man is usually in pain. Now if there is a family history of protate cancer than he should be checked and make sure it is the same person checking each time, even if it's just his partner and not a doctor, kwim?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SKK
My cynical answer: the yearly checks are money makers and ways of conditioning women to NOT trust their bodies so when it comes time for pregnancy and birth, they will submit willingly to any test and/or procedure you can think of.
:
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#11 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:28 PM
 
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A doctor checking a prostate for the first time is not going to know if it is normal sized or not.
please quote your source for this assertion.
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#12 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Arduinna
please quote your source for this assertion.
Common sense. A person who has never felt your prostate before is not going to be able to detect any changes.
The Prostate Specific Antigen test is much less invasive and a more accurate way of determining if you are at risk or need further testing, ie-a biopsy.
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#13 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:45 PM
 
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I honestly don't see a problem with having an annual GYN exam and PAP smear. How is having a pelvic exam any more dangerous than having sex? OK, the PAP smear is unpleasant but I can deal with it.

True, I'm likely to find any lumps in my breasts before the dr would, but I don't see any harm in having him check them once a year. It's not painful and it doesn't bother me. Now, when he tells me I "need" a routine mammogram, I'll decline!!

I don't see how going to the GYN once a year detracts from me knowing my own body.

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#14 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Ruthla
I don't see how going to the GYN once a year detracts from me knowing my own body.
Totally true, unless a person only relies on what the doctor tells them to the exclusion of knowing their own body, i.e., "if my doctor told me, that's all I need to know!"

Also, notwithstanding my "cynical answer" in my pp, I would probably not like to go too long without a pap test. Even through touching one's own cervix, you can't detect abnormal cells, and by the time something were detectable by touch, it'd probably be too late.
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#15 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ruthla
I don't see how going to the GYN once a year detracts from me knowing my own body.
It detracts from other women who do know their body and want to decline invasive procedures.
Just like women who make planned cesareans. It is now harder for those of us who want a vaginal birth or VBAC.
I also think it is a waste of money that could be used to find cures for cancer, HIV, AIDS, Hep C, Leukemia, etc. Or money that could be used to help treat a terminally ill child/adult.
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#16 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
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I am not just thinking of the individual but the impact on the whole.
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#17 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 03:59 PM
 
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only 30% of patients with breast cancer have a family history.

I began having atypical pap smears at age 18. cervical cancer can be caused by a strain of HPV that is extremely common. near 99% of women with abnormal pap smears are positive for this strain of HPV which is nearly always otherwise symptomless. This is a virus any sexually active woman can become infected with, even using protection.

I am interested in your "friends who work in the medical industry". Both of my parents are physicians, including my mother, a pediatrician who has performed internal exams on female patients. All tools are either disposable and disposed after one use or are sterilized. Your friends work for someone who needs to be reported for malpractice. Please reconsider your position. Encouraging women NOT to get checked up once in a while is not empowering them to take care of themselves. Had I not done it, I could have cancer right now.

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#18 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 04:00 PM
 
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OK, the 'specifics' aside, I totally see the point here. I mean, men are encouraged to know their 'equipment', women taught it is dirty. When's the last time you saw penile deodorizing swabs? What is the take-away lesson here? Seriously...don't touch, right? It's dirty...let the professional take a look every year and make sure you're OK, because you shouldn't be touching down there.

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#19 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 04:08 PM
 
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I go for my yearly exam because in high school a friend's mom thought along the same lines as you and died from undetected cervical cancer. He has never forgiven his mom for not taking the time to do something so simple and something that may very well have saved her life. Early detection is key and I don't have the slides, microscope or lab gear to run my own tests. The thing is, byt the time you feel any abnormalities the cancer has been growing for a good chunk of time. Yeah, I could feel my own cervix, but unless the cancer's been growing for a year or so I won't feel anything different - it takes a while for a bump/lump to form. The pap can detect before then and early detection is key in surviving.

At the clinic my Dr. works out of all the pap equipment is one time use. Everything is in it's own sealed package, is opened in front of you and then used. There's no sterilizing after use it's just pitched into the garbage (there are enviro issues with this, for sure, but not health/infection ones).

I don't feel like I don't trust my body or know about it at all. I've been getting updated versions of Our Bodies, Our Selves since I was a teen. I feel that an annual exam is a way of respecting my body and ensuring it's long life.

And a lot of men I know do get regular exams to rule out or ensure early detection of colon cancer. They don't trust their bodies any less than I do, and that exam reinforces just how easy a pap is for most women.

Thing is the majority of people fighting cancer of all kinds have no family history that puts them in a high risk category. Having a family history of, for example, breast cancer only increases your risk but does not guarantee developing the disease. And having no family history doesn't guarantee a cancer free life. So much more dictates that and more Drs feel the rise in cancers is environmental and not genetic pre-disposition.

I just don't want DS to grow up without me when a simple exam once a year could have prevented that. Still not a guarantee, but it increases the chances of that not happening, and that's worth it for me.
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#20 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 04:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bri276
Encouraging women NOT to get checked up once in a while is not empowering them to take care of themselves. Had I not done it, I could have cancer right now.
How do you think it helped you to not have cancer right now?
Why do you think having a yearly exam is empowering for women?
Is it empowering for men, also?
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#21 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 04:34 PM
 
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Regarding the whole issue- I just go by my own comfort level and always have. I am not comfortable having strangers anywhere near my genitalia.

I'm 30 and have had two pap smears/pelvics in my lifetime. I wasn't even sexually active until I was 28. Hell no was I going to buy into the "get yearly exams from 18 on" because that's when MOST people are sexually active (or whatever). I don't happen to be most people.

The first time I went, I was 25 and cried to my mother afterwards. It was a horrible and degrading experience for someone who had never even had sex (not that it isn't for people who HAVE had sex). The second time, I was 28, and thank God, had met and married my husband (who was also a virgin) by then which, for whatever reason, made it easier for me.

I'm considering boycotting future exams, yearly or pregnancy related. I definately will go no less than three years in between them. I do check my own cervix for charting purposes. FTR, I have never once had a UTI or yeast infection. ??? Maybe because I've only had one partner and limited exams?

Whatever someone else wants to do is fine by me!

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#22 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 04:35 PM
 
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Having several abnormal pap smears in a row, I had to have a colposcopy, in which the dr uses a scope to look more closely at the inside of the cervix to determine the areas with abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells. They then take biopsies of those areas, which are sent to the lab to determine the level of dysplasia (change). The more the cells have changed, the closer you are to cancer.
Luckily, mine was caught at a point where the cells were still mildy dysplastic, meaning only minor changes had occurred to the cells at that point. I had cryotherapy performed to remove the top layer of cells on my cervix, thereby removing the cells that were slowly turning into cancer.
Therefore, I believe a yearly exam is empowering for men AND women because it enables them to know what, if any, health concerns they face and they can then choose which path of treatment to follow, or they can choose not to treat at all if they don't feel they are at risk.
However, one is not empowered to make a health decision if one is not in possession of all the facts regarding their health. If you do not know that the cells on your cervix are slowly morphing into cancerous cells, (which you cannot know without a pap smear, because there won't be any symptoms until you have full blown cancer), then you cannot make an informed decision on your health, because you simply don't know the state of your own health.

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#23 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 04:41 PM
 
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I get a yearly exam from a good female doctor. That's sort of my compromise, if you want to call it that. In college I went for a yearly exam at U of M and it was my first woman doctor and what I learned at that exam was amazing for me. Nothing about it was shameful of my body or teaching me to not trust my instincts. Instead I was given more tools to trust my instincts. It was the first time I learned how hard to push for a self breast exam, it's pretty darn hard. It was there I learned that any bad smell coming from my body shouldn't tried to be covered up with perfumed products but if it was that bad it meant something was wrong. That a body doesn't inherently smell bad anywhere even your vagina. That visit empowered me.

Since then I've lived in 5 different states, 7 different towns and been through at least 10 different insurance plans and have always been able to find at least one slightly crunchy female doctor who accepted my insurance. And at the yearly exams I usually learn something new. I like the check in aspect of it b/c I'll often think of things beforehand I don't feel worth making a special appointment for and I've never gone to a doctor where the instruments weren't a one time use.

Is there something else besides the instruments being unclean that makes the exam dangerous?

Also, in dealing with an aging grandmother and a hypochondriac mother, I think having regular check ups helps to tune you in a little more to your body than actually remove your control at least for some people. For both of them the only time I can tell they've had dismissive doctors who told them not to trust their instincts was when they were pg. go figure.
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#24 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 04:43 PM
 
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I get my yearly exam because I cannot get prescription birth control without one. They've got me over a barrel.

Pap smears have been proven to be a cost effective way to prevent illness and death. That equation doesn't take into account the emotional effects of the exam or the unplanned pregnancies caused because women could not get the birth control they wanted without the exam they didn't want.

I am very interested in the self-exams that other countries have explored. There is no reason why you cannot insert the speculum, do the pap smear, take the chlymidia swab, etc. yourself. These examinations can be conducted oneself if desired.

Until I began working in women's healthcare, I didn't know how many women had never ever touched the inside of their vaginas. There is a huge range of variation in comfort levels in american women. While I would hope that that might change in the furture, I really don't want women to die because I declare their closely held beliefs to be "wrong" and I want to make them do it my way.

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#25 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 04:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bri276
However, one is not empowered to make a health decision if one is not in possession of all the facts regarding their health. If you do not know that the cells on your cervix are slowly morphing into cancerous cells, (which you cannot know without a pap smear, because there won't be any symptoms until you have full blown cancer), then you cannot make an informed decision on your health, because you simply don't know the state of your own health.
Exactly how I feel. Well said.

RedPony, you have to do what you're comfortable with but pap smears are unrelated to sex. I know you now have a husband and a child so I'm guessing you're no longer a virgin but just for future reference when discussing issues like this with your child(ren) virgins get cervical cancer so not having sex is not a reason for an adult to skip the pap smear. I hear you that it was a horrible experience but wow, imagine not catching cancer in time to treat it effectively and how that would leave your child(ren) feeling. Maybe finding a different GP or GYN and getting to know him or her? I don't feel my GP is a stranger at all.

I've had a good share of partners and have been having an annual exam since I was 16-17 and have never had one UTI or yeast infection - my guess is they aren't related at all. Maybe one of the nurses will chime in?

ETA: I don't rely on a yearly exam only. I do self exam as well but am thankful for early detection techniques requiring equipment I don't own.
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#26 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 04:59 PM
 
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friend from HS was a virgin and had lots of trouble with her cervix. She never went into too much detail. I was pg and she was told that due to all the procedures her cervixal opening was so small that she probably couldn't get pg.

I'm also a RN and have witness "penis exams". I agree not as indepth as a vaginal exam, but a check for discharge from the penis, hernia exam. I've swabed inside a penis checking for STD. The MD or NP does the prostate check and also does a visual for swelling, undecended testes, etc.
Used disposible stuff at our office, nothing steamed.

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#27 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 05:06 PM
 
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Another suggestion, you dont have to go to a regular OB/GYN for a pap smear. Alot of midwives can do that too.

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#28 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Has anyone considered the fact that there are less invasive and less damaging ways to check for cervical cancer and STD's?
Every time they scrape your cervix it opens it up for an increased risk of infection. Also, biopsies leave scar tissue and damage the cervix.
Why not focus on changing your diet or taking other preventive measures regarding your health and well-being?
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#29 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 05:17 PM
 
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I just finished neoadjuvent chemo for breast cancer. I'll be having surgery in a few weeks.

My tumor was found through a routine exam. My breasts have always been lumpy and change consistancy during a cycle. I did not have any idea I had a fairly substantial lump until the doctor found it, despite doing self-exams.

I had not gone for a routine exam for a couple of years. I wish to God I had--I'd be looking at a better prognosis. I am very grateful that I went when I did or it is very possible that the cancer would have spread, which it appears not to have.
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#30 of 302 Old 08-25-2005, 05:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies
Has anyone considered the fact that there are less invasive and less damaging ways to check for cervical cancer and STD's?
Every time they scrape your cervix it opens it up for an increased risk of infection. Also, biopsies leave scar tissue and damage the cervix.
Why not focus on changing your diet or taking other preventive measures regarding your health and well-being?
So what are these less invasive and less damaging ways to check for cervical cancer and STDs? Do you have any data showing you have an increased risk for infection from a cervical exam? I'm not trying to be snarky. I'm just not used to not having some back up article or source on MDC when someone posts something like this.

I look at a pelvic exam as part of my overall health and do preventative measures, etc. to safeguard my health. But I could have the healthiest lifestyle in the world and it doesn't mean I'm not going to get cancer. Or even an STD.
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