|What I did on my summer vacation. August, 2009|
It has now been established that the path that brings people to oral cancer contains at least two distinct causes; one through tobacco and alcohol, and another via the HPV virus, particularly version 16. Evidence shows that two-thirds of cancers of the tongue and tonsils are caused by HPV—and 80% of these cases occur in men. My cancer was at the base of the tongue. According to the Centers for Disease Control the HPV positive group is the fastest growing segment of the oral cancer population. That’s scary.
|The morning after four hours of surgery. April, 2010. Thanks Dr. Arnold.|
“Yaaaaay!” I yelled.
“That’s the patient cheering,” Dr. Arnold told the pathologist, smiling broadly. Then he hung up the phone and smacked me a big high five. Like I’d won the lottery.
What I’ve won is a better prognosis. HPV-related throat cancer in people who don’t smoke or drink responds well to treatment. One researcher says that the survival rate for people like me is 85%. That’s big news. That’s a high five for sure.
People sometimes talk about a cure for cancer as if it will be a whiz-bang thing. Instant. But I think that curing cancer will continue to come in little ways, a tiny bit at a time. My Key West radiologist, Dr. Sandy Shultz, says that cancer is every bit as cunning an enemy as Al-Qaeda.
|Our beloved friend, Eileen Reeve, RN. August, 2010|
Second, please do some research and decide whether or not you see the value in vaccinating your children for HPV. Scientists are now concluding that boys should be vaccinated, too. Ask your doctor. Go on line. Check it out. You might save a life.
As my wise son said, when I considered whether or not to have the just-in-case chemotherapy after my cancer was surgically removed: “Mom, why wouldn’t you?”