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New research gives hope to patients with a fatal type of brain cancer

June 9, 2015 in Uncategorized by admin  |  Comments Off on New research gives hope to patients with a fatal type of brain cancer

It’s difficult to treat a type of brain cancer that is nearly always fatal.

However, a new clinical trial that is underway may be improving the options for patients with deadly glioblastomas.
The survival rate for a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma is about 10% over a five year period.

External beam radiation treatment has always been challenging because the beams must pass through healthy tissue.

Now, a new method of increasing radiation to the tumor is showing promise.
David Williams said, “You know…I’m blessed,” which is not what you expect to hear from a man who just had an invasive treatment for a brain tumor.

“Get rid of it. No more tumors,” said David, who entered a clinical trial to treat the recurrence of a malignant brain tumor called glioblastoma.

Dr. John Floyd, a neurosurgeon from UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, explained, “This trial is very promising, because it’s completely out of the box. It’s not chemotherapy, it’s not surgery.”

The treatment is an infusion of a radioactive isotope called renium-186. The isotope is delivered directly into the tumor by catheter and it is enclosed in fat particles that stabilize it and keep it inside of the tumor.

“What I tell patients is, it’s like GPS for the brain and we can pinpoint just exactly where we want it to go,” said Dr. Floyd.

The radioactive particles stay inside the tumor, so radiation can be delivered in higher doses.

David’s treatment took about four hours and his wife, Shannon, was amazed at his quick recovery right after the treatment was over.

“He was already talking,” she exclaimed.

Andrew Brenner, a neuro-oncologist from the Cancer Therapy and Research Center in San Antonio, said it was key that the renium 186 stayed right in the tumor.

Dr. Brenner added, “There was no leakage of this drug anywhere outside of the area that we were targeting.”

This clinical trial is giving hope to both doctors and patients.
David Williams was the first person in the U.S. to have this very focused radiation treatment that is for recurrent glioblastoma brain tumors.

Doctors said that if the trial goes as planned, it may be used in the future for initial brain tumor treatments.

Research focusing on new treatments for glioblastoma has recently been highly publicized.

Scientists at Duke University are testing a therapy involving an engineered polio virus designed to attack glioblastoma tumor cells.

To read the full in-depth interview with Dr. John Floyd, visit the Ivanhoe Broadcast News website.

New insight into taste bud renewal offers hope for cancer patients with taste dysfunction

June 9, 2015 in Uncategorized by admin  |  Comments Off on New insight into taste bud renewal offers hope for cancer patients with taste dysfunction

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy often experience a reduction in their sense of taste. Now, researchers have uncovered a mechanism behind taste bud renewal, paving the way for new treatment strategies for patients with taste dysfunction.

Lead study author Dany Gaillard, of the Anschutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado Denver, and colleagues publish their findings in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Taste buds are organs containing sensory cells that allow us to experience sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (savory) tastes. The majority of taste buds are on the surface of the tongue, though there are some in the cheek, epiglottis and the upper esophagus.

In total, adults have around 2,000-4,000 taste buds, which renew around once a week to maintain taste function. The exact process underlying taste bud renewal, however, has been unclear.

Many patients undergoing cancer treatment – particularly those who have head, neck or colon cancers – experience taste dysfunction. Some patients may be unable to taste at all, while others experience a metallic taste that can make it hard to swallow.

The cancer drugs used to kill cancer cells can damage healthy cells, including taste buds, impairing their ability to renew. “That in turn will alter a person’s sense of taste [potentially] leading to malnutrition, weight loss and sometimes death,” notes senior study author Linda Barlow, also of the Anschutz Medical Campus.

“Thus,” the researchers add, “understanding how taste cells renew throughout adult life, i.e., how newly born cells replace old cells as they die, is essential to find potential therapeutic targets to improve taste sensitivity in patients suffering taste dysfunction.”

Activating Wnt pathway could restore sense of taste for cancer patients
By analyzing the tongues of mouse models, the team found that the renewal of taste buds is controlled by a protein in the Wnt signaling pathway, called ß-catenin. This protein is key to producing taste buds in developing embryos, and it also regulates the renewal of epithelial tissue in adults, including that of the mouth, skin and hair follicles.

When it comes to taste bud renewal, the researchers found that ß-catenin regulates the individual stages of taste bud turnover to control their renewal.

“We show that activating this [Wnt] pathway directs the newly born cells to become primarily a specific taste cell type whose role is to support the other taste cells and help them work efficiently,” explains Barlow.

As such, the researchers believe that one way to restore sense of taste in cancer patients undergoing treatment may be to activate the Wnt pathway, prompting taste bud renewal.

Based on their findings, the researchers hypothesize that small molecule cancer drugs that block the Wnt pathway may also cause taste dysfunction, meaning patients receiving such drugs would need complementary treatment to restore sense of taste.

While the team admits there is still much more to learn about the mechanisms underlying taste bud renewal, they believe their findings bring us a step closer to improving cancer patients’ quality of life.

In June 2014, Medical News Today reported on a study that identified stress-activated hormones in the taste buds responsible for detecting sweet, umami and bitter tastes, which the researchers claim may explain emotional eating.

Lung cancer therapy hope for patients

June 9, 2015 in Uncategorized by admin  |  Comments Off on Lung cancer therapy hope for patients

A lung cancer therapy can more than double life expectancy in some patients, a “milestone” trial has shown.
Nivolumab stops cancerous cells hiding from the body’s own defences, leaving the cancer vulnerable to attack.
The results from 582 people were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
James Gallagher reports.

Read more
Lung cancer therapy is ‘milestone’

New radiation-free imaging method ‘effectively diagnoses cancer’

February 21, 2014 in Uncategorized by admin  |  Comments Off on New radiation-free imaging method ‘effectively diagnoses cancer’

Standard imaging techniques, such as PET and CT scans, are used to assess the development of cancer in children. However, these imaging methods can expose children to radiation that increases their risk of secondary cancers later in life. Now, new research has detailed a new whole-body imaging technique that could eliminate this risk.

In a study recently published in The Lancet Oncology, researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine in California tested a new whole-body diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique.
The imaging method uses ferumoxytol – an iron supplement – to enhance the visibility of tumors. Ferumoxytol is made up of tiny superparamagnetic iron oxide particles that are detected with MRI.

The research team, led by Dr. Heike Daldrup-Link, notes that computed tomography (CT) and 18F-fludeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scans are the main techniques used to see what stage cancers are at and to determine the best treatment method.

But Dr. Daldrup-Link says previous research has demonstrated the secondary cancer risks associated with these techniques.

According to the study background, ionizing radiation – high frequency radiation that has enough energy to damage cells’ DNA – in early childhood has been shown to triple the risk of lifetime cancer, compared with adults exposed to the radiation from the age of 30.

Furthermore, the investigators note that cumulative radiation exposure from diagnostic CT scans may almost triple the risk of secondary leukemia and brain cancer later in life.

Dr. Daldrup-Link points out that children are much more sensitive to radiation than adults, and they are more likely to experience secondary cancers because they will live for a longer period after exposure.


New MRI method ‘as effective as traditional imaging techniques’

Researchers have detailed a new whole-body MRI technique that can effectively diagnose cancer without radiation exposure.


The researchers wanted to see how their new whole-body MRI technique – which uses no radiation exposure – compared in terms of diagnostic accuracy with the standard 18F-FDG PET/CT approach.
The investigators used both the whole-body MRI and 18F-FDG PET/CT to scan 22 children and young adults aged between 0 and 33 years who had malignant lymphomas and sarcomas.

Average radiation exposure was confirmed as zero for the whole-body MRI technique, while the 18F-FDG PET/CT method exposed patients to 12.5 millisieverts (mSv).

The investigators found that the diagnostic accuracy of the whole-body MRI technique was 97.2%, compared to 98.3% in the 18F-FDG PET/CT method. The whole-body MRI also showed similar sensitivities and specificities to the 18F-FDG PET/CT, at 93.7% vs. 90.8% and 97.7% vs. 99.5%, respectively.

Commenting on the findings, the researchers say:

“Present techniques used for diagnosis and treatment, albeit effective, might bear certain risks and thus do not meet our high standards on patient care.

This new imaging test might solve this conundrum of the need for diagnostic cancer staging procedures and concurrent risk of secondary cancer development later in life.”

However, in a comment piece linked to the study, Thomas C. Kwee, of the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, notes that although the new whole-body MRI technique has shown success in this study, “further work is needed before it can become a clinical alternative to 18F-FDG PET/CT.”

And Dr. Daldrup-Link told Medical News Today that the research team plans to do just that.

She said the team has already formed a collaboration with six centers in the US, including the University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford University, in order to test the new MRI imaging method against radiotracer-based staging examinations.

“We are in the process of applying for funding at the moment and if all goes well, might be able to start the multi-center trial this fall. We already received requests from two centers in Europe who want to join in as well,” said Dr. Daldrup-Link.

Medical News Today recently reported on a study detailing a new imaging technique called mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) – a method the researchers say could speed up cancer diagnosis.


Courtesy: Honor Whiteman

Iron deficiency increases stroke risk by making blood sticky

February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized by admin  |  Comments Off on Iron deficiency increases stroke risk by making blood sticky

More than 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke every year, resulting in almost 6 million deaths. Now, new research from Imperial College London in the UK finds that iron deficiency could increase a person’s risk of stroke by making the blood sticky.

This is according to a study recently published in the journalPLOS One.
The research team, including Dr. Claire Shovlin, of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, notes that previous research has shown that iron deficiency could be a risk factor for ischemic stroke – when small blood clots interrupt blood flow to the brain – in adults and children.

To investigate why this is the case, the researchers analyzed the iron levels of 497 patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) – a rare disease than can lead to enlarged blood vessels in the lungs.

The research team explains that healthy blood vessels usually filter out small blood clots before the blood travels to the arteries. But in HHT, the blood vessels can allow small blood clots to make their way to the brain.


Low iron levels ‘double stroke risk’


The investigators found that patients with moderately low iron levels (6 micromoles per liter) had double the risk of stroke, compared with patients with iron levels deemed middle of the normal range (7-27 micromoles per liter).

Further investigation revealed that iron deficiency increases the stickiness of platelets – small blood cells. This prompts platelets to stick together, causing clotting.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Shovlin says:

“Since platelets in the blood stick together more if you are short of iron, we think this may explain why being short of iron can lead to strokes, though much more research will be needed to prove this link.”

She adds that the team plans to investigate whether treating iron deficiency in high-risk patients could reduce their risk of stroke, and specifically, whether this would cause platelets in the blood to become less sticky.

“There are many additional steps from a clot blocking a blood vessel to the final stroke developing, so it is still unclear just how important sticky platelets are to the overall process,” adds Dr. Shovlin.

She says the team hopes more studies will investigate the association between sticky platelets and stroke.


The benefits of iron

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 30% of the the world’s population suffers from anemia – mainly as a result of iron deficiency.
Lack of iron in the blood can be caused by blood loss, poor diet, or the inability to absorb a sufficient amount of iron from food – a common occurrence in people who suffer from Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.
According to the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the best sources of iron are meat, poultry, fish and iron-fortified foods. A person is more likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia if they do not eat these foods regularly or do not take iron supplements.
Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that iron supplementation provides cognitive and physical benefits for anemic children, while other research suggests that iron-rich foods may reduce dementia risk.


Courtesy: Honor Whiteman

New leukemia immune cell therapy shows promise

February 20, 2014 in Uncategorized by admin  |  Comments Off on New leukemia immune cell therapy shows promise

New findings on cell therapy to treat leukemia bring more encouraging news of the promise that this experimental area of cancer treatment holds for patients for whom conventional approaches do not work.

In the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, report the results of the largest clinical study yet conducted in patients with advanced leukemia.

These show that 14 of the 16 patients – that is 88% – treated with genetically modified versions of their own immune cells, achieved complete remission – at least in the short term; the long-term effects of the therapy are yet to be tested.

Co-senior author Dr. Michel Sadelain, director of the Center for Cell Engineering at Memorial Sloan Kettering, describes the results as “extraordinary,” saying they show how cell therapy might offer hope where other treatments have failed.
“Our initial findings have held up in a larger cohort of patients,” he notes, “and we are already looking at new clinical studies to advance this novel therapeutic approach in fighting cancer.”


Cell therapy programs patients’ immune cells to target cancer cells


The researchers tested the cell therapy approach in patients with a type of blood cancer called adult B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). According to the American Cancer Society, about 6,000 Americans will be diagnosed with ALL in 2014.

B-ALL is difficult to treat because most patients relapse after receiving conventional chemotherapy. Only 30% survive further chemotherapy, and without a bone marrow transplant, long-term prospects are very grim.
The cell therapy approach the researchers used, also called cancer immunotherapy, involves extracting immune T cells from the patient, genetically altering them to recognize and destroy cancer cells that contain the protein CD19, and then infusing them back into the patient.

In 2013, the team reported how their leukemia cell therapy led to complete remission in five of the 16 patients treated.

This latest study includes results for the other 11 patients and reports that overall, of the 16 patients, 88% showed a “complete response,” which means there was no molecular evidence of the disease.


Long-term effects of cell therapy for leukemia yet to be tested


However, the long-term effect of the therapy is yet to be thoroughly tested, as some of the patients in the study became eligible for bone marrow transplants following treatment, offering a chance for prolonged survival. Bone marrow transplant is the standard of care and the only curative option for B-ALL patients.
The Wall Street Journal reports Dr. Sadelain as saying, “At that point, we weren’t running an experiment, we were trying to keep people alive.”

Seven of the 16 patients underwent bone marrow transplant – two of whom died of complications. Another patient is currently being evaluated for transplant.

The researchers point out that historically, only 5% of patients with relapsed B-ALL have been able to move forward to bone marrow transplantation.

Of the remaining eight patients, four died, and four remain in remission, including one who is still in remission more than 2 years after receiving cell therapy.


Study offers guidelines for managing side effects of cell therapy

The study also offers valuable guidelines for how to manage cell therapy side effects, which can include flu-like symptoms such as fever, low blood pressure, muscle pain and difficulty breathing, a condition known as cytokine release syndrome. The team developed a test that can identify which patients are at greater risk for this syndrome.

More research looking at applying cell therapy to other cancers is already under way, as are plans to study whether it might benefit B-ALL patients as a frontline treatment.

Funds from various research foundations and institutes, including the National Cancer Institute and the Terry

Courtesy: Catharine Paddock PhD


October 8, 2013 in Uncategorized by admin  |  Comments Off on STRESS FUELS CANCER SPREAD BY TRIGGERING MASTER GENE

A new study from the US published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation finds that activation of a master gene called ATF3 that is important for helping cells adapt to stress may be involved in helping breast, and possibly other cancers spread to other parts of the body (metastasis).

With the vast majority of all cancer suffering and death associated with metastasis, researchers are keen to learn more about what causes it. The American Cancer Society says metastasis is the single most significant challenge to management of cancer.

Stress could be unifying theme in cancer spread

Previous studies have shown that stress is a risk factor for cancer, and for example, that psychological stress is linked to breast cancer aggressiveness.

And researchers already know that ATF3 is activated when all types of cells experience stressful conditions that threaten their ability to maintain a constant internal environment (homeostasis).

Under normal circumstances, triggering ATF3 protects the body from harm by causing normal cells to commit suicide if there is a risk they have become permanently damaged by the stressful conditions (eg lack of oxygen or irradiation).

When cancer cells first arise, the immune system recognizes them as foreign agents and enlists immune cells to attack them. In the early stages of cancer development this works. But then things go wrong: one reason is cancer cells start to send signals to immune cells that cause them to misbehave in a way that helps the tumor grow.

In the new study, researchers at Ohio State University show that cancer cells are able to switch on ATF3 in immune cells that have been summoned to tumor sites. The result is ATF3 then causes the immune cells to malfunction and allow cancer cells to escape from the tumor and spread to other parts of the body.

Senior author Tsonwin Hai, a professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry at Ohio, says:

“If your body does not help cancer cells, they cannot spread as far. So really, the rest of the cells in the body help cancer cells to move, to set up shop at distant sites. And one of the unifying themes here is stress.”

Study suggests cancer cells target AFT3 in myeloid cells

In previous work, Prof Hai and her team found expression of ATF3 was linked to poorer outcomes in 300 breast cancer patients.

When they examined tumor samples from those patients they were stunned to find expression of ATF3 in certain immune cells was tied to poorer outcomes whereas ATF3 in cancer cells showed no such link.

In the new study, the researchers investigated those clinical results further by conducting two experiments in mice.

They first injected breast cancer cells in normal mice and in mice that could not express ATF3 in any cells.

The breast cancer in normal mice spread to the lungs much faster and more extensively than it did in the mice lacking ATF3.

In the second experiment, the team repeated what they did in the first experiment, except that instead of mice that could not express ATF3 in any cells, they used mice that had been genetically engineered to lack ATF3 only in a group of immune system cells called myeloid cells.

The results of the second experiment were similar to those of the first experiment, leading Prof Hai and her team to write:

“In conclusion, we identified ATF3 as a regulator in myeloid cells that enhances breast cancer metastasis and has predictive value for clinical outcomes.”

Stress gene could be target for drugs to fight metastasis

If further studies confirm these findings, the team believe the stress gene could one day be a target for drugs that fight cancer spread.

In the meantime, Prof Hai says, they help us better understand how tumor cells hijack the body’s own resources to promote cancer survival and spread.

There are lots of ways to switch on ATF3 in cells, as well as the signals sent by cancer cells, a high-fat diet, radiation, chemotherapy, UV damage and even chronic behavioral stress, are others.

The team now plans to investigate further how these and other stressors affect immune cells through switching on ATF3, changing them from attacking cancer cells to helping cancer cells.

Courtesy:  Catharine Paddock PhD


September 8, 2013 in Uncategorized by admin  |  Comments Off on SCIENTISTS DEMONSTRATE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN STRESS AND CANCER

Scientists insist stress is related to cancer.

Scientists analyzed various studies showing a clear link between stress and cancer, including breast cancer. Stress often manifests with moodiness, headache, limb pain and discouragement.

Scientists analyzed various studies showing a connection between stress and cancer, including breast cancer. New research reveals how they relate.

For many years, scientists suspected and maintained a connection between exposure to stressful experiences and the development of cancer. So far, various studies show conflicting results.

Scientists at the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, analyzed some works dealing stress episodes in the life of a person and the risk of breast cancer. Even the death of a relative or friend influences the genesis of some cancers.

Other studies have shown that severe stress, even if it happens a couple of days, weakens our immune system, making us more vulnerable to a host of health problems. The researchers suspect that this is caused by a stress hormone called cortisol, which can affect our immune system cells and limit their ability to prevent disease.

Moreover, scientists at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, showed that stress impedes wound healing. This is demonstrated by the fact that people who are very nervous about an operation, have more discomfort after and are more vulnerable to postoperative infections.

Stress often manifests with moodiness, headache, limb pain and discouragement. It can lead to emotional imbalances like depression.

Stress makes you burn fewer calories and cortisol can actually reduce the body’s ability to release fat from its fat stores to use for energy. Instead, we become sugar burners and fat storers. Stress hormones cause increased body fat in the abdominal region, exactly where we don’t need or want it.

Chronic stress can lead the body to ignore the function of insulin. Insulin resistance develops when the cells fail to respond to insulin’s message to take in glucose from the blood stream. It is thought that elevated blood sugar due to stress and diet contributes to the development of insulin resistance.

When insulin fails to unlock our cells, the appetite is increased while the body’s ability to burn fat is decreased. This syndrome is part of the modern problem of rising rates of obesity and diabetes.

Stress inhibits the production and activity of natural killer cells, known as NK cells, as much as 50%. NK cells are responsible for identifying and destroying cancer and virus cells. Even more scary, chronic stress can accelerate the growth of cancer cells in the body as well as block the body’s ability to fight cancer. It promotes the synthesis of new blood cells in tumors and accelerates the growth of some tumors.

teleSUR-RT/ao – FC

Courtesy:  Lisa Karpova


August 20, 2013 in Uncategorized by admin  |  Comments Off on QIGONG MAY EASE CANCER PATIENTS’ STRESS

Researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have found that qigong, an ancient Chinese mind-body practice, reduces symptoms and improves quality of life in women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer.

Lorenzo Cohen, professor in M.D. Anderson’s Departments of General Oncology and Behavioral Science and director of the Integrative Medicine Program, is the corresponding author on the study, which was recently published in the journal Cancer.

The study is the first to examine qigong in patients actively receiving radiation therapy and to include a follow-up period to assess benefits over time.

In the study, Cohen and his colleagues tracked 96 Chinese women in Shanghai with Stage 1-3 breast cancer as they underwent a five- to six-week course of radiation. About half the women were randomized into a qigong group, while the other half received standard care. Patients in the qigong group reported a steady decline in depressive symptoms at the end of radiation. The most dramatic results came for women who reported high depressive symptoms at the beginning of their treatment.

The possible effect of qigong practice on patients’ stress and depressive symptoms was a guiding concern of the study. “It is important for cancer patients to manage stress because it can have a profoundly negative effect on biological systems and inflammatory profiles,” Cohen said.

Such a study is at the heart of the work done at the Integrative Medicine Program at M.D. Anderson, which combines traditional Western practices of fighting disease with effective complementary therapies that often derive from ancient health systems from other cultures. The program’s research focuses on practices like yoga and acupuncture, as well as the use of plants and other natural compounds to treat cancer and cancer-related symptoms.

Qigong, yoga and acupuncture are ancient practices that derive from medical systems originating thousands of years ago in China and India. While wildly divergent in their details, the Chinese and Indian systems rest on certain premises about the human body, one of which is that the body is fundamentally an energy system. Energy – called “prana” in Indian ayurvedic medicine or “qi” in Chinese medicine – moves throughout the body but can become blocked or misdirected resulting in disease or symptoms of sickness. Practices like acupuncture, structured breathing, various movements and postures, and meditative techniques are designed to restore the energy’s proper movement, thus restoring health and wellness.

Qigong, especially the variety used for medical purposes, combines slow, rhythmic movements with meditation and structured breathing. A peaceful, centered mindset, it is believed, can impact the body with lowered levels of stress or other symptoms of disease.

The distinctions between alternative, complementary and integrative medicine are important, according to Cohen. Alternative medicine – which is not practiced at M.D. Anderson – uses unproven treatments in place of traditional care, he said.

Complementary medicine, he said, involves making use of a nonstandard treatment modality for which there may not be much evidence of benefit, but it is safe enough to use alongside conventional care to offer a possible benefit.

Integrative medicine is more of a philosophy of care and a way of practicing that focuses on the whole person. “We focus on the relation between the practitioner and the patients, and we are informed by evidence – we don’t want to be prescribing things to our patients for which there is no evidence of safety or of benefit,” he said. “Also, in integrative medicine we seek to make use of all possible avenues for healing that may work.”

Surprisingly to some, things like diet and exercise are not part of standard care in oncology. Why not? “Because the majority of the evidence exists in the epidemiology stage of the disease,” Cohen said. In other words, the evidence does not yet suggest direct, causal links between diet, exercise, yoga, acupuncture and so forth, on the one hand, and a measurable lowered risk for cancer. All the current evidence that highlights better outcomes for people who don’t drink, who aren’t overweight and who manage stress are observational – not strictly causal or correlative.

The qigong study is an attempt to begin to connect the dots causally so that eventually such integrative treatments are part of standard care.

Cohen said he envisions a time when mind-body practices and a psycho-spiritual perspective are part of medical teams – and considered part of standard care covered by insurance.

“Ideally, we would work at the whole level,” he said. “We would work to get that person’s body that has become hospitable to cancer to be as inhospitable as possible going forward.”

Courtesy: Jill Carroll