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Friday, January 28, 2011

Great - another stigma for head and neck cancer fighters

When I was diagnosed with a 'head and neck cancer', more people than I thought would have asked me if it was due to any history of smoking - "you must have smoked a lot sometime". Nope, never even lit a match to smoke. Alcohol? "I bet you used to drink, and that brought it on." Nope, pretty much not a drinker. "Well, why did you get it then?", they would ask. (You understand, these were not my friends, just people that ran into my life story as they passed by.) "Not a clue" was my response. Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma has neither been shown to be caused by environment nor by heredity - they are still hunting for the cause as well as a cure.
So, after living through that, guess what news came out with this week:
Rise in Some Head and Neck Cancers Tied to Oral Sex: Study
Can't wait for THOSE questions (or even better, those knowing looks!) to come forward from nosy humans. Please understand - the study is referring to cancers testing positive for HPV, that same virus that the Gardasil vaccine is supposed to ward off. They theorize that multiple sex partners leads to a higher chance of specific cancers.
Bring on the assumptions and the knowing looks. Maybe I will strengthen the stereotype of the sexy librarian, all by myself. I might even come up with some ready stories as comebacks - "Well, there was that one weekend of Steve and Fred in the treehouse...", then walk away, leaving the nosy ones just wondering more. Anyway, I must give the high-5 to one of the physicians interviewed in the article - Dr. Lydiatt is from my very own University of Nebraska Medical Center. (And a very great surgeon.)
People used to not disclose that they had cancer. News like this may make them keep it quiet again. Lung cancer can happen when a person doesn't smoke a bit. Head and neck cancer can happen out of the blue, for no reason at all. Please don't look at the human wearing the cancer tumor scar and immediately blame them or their lifestyle for bringing the disease upon them (or, as someone once said, "You have received cancer of the mouth due to your sins against god". Yeah, that was a good day.) And if you are a patient, please don't berate yourself for having done or thought something to "bring it on". You have the hardest job of all: healing - pay attention to today.


Dee said...

Teri, I know that ACC is not a laughing matter. But the way you set up your post, by stating that you don"t smoke or drink much, and then giving that headline for ANOTHER CAUSE FOR HEAD AND NECK CANCERS?? Hilarious! I guffawed (or at least, did what I think a guffaw is).

But in all seriousness (NOT), you can"t leave us hanging like this. Only one story about the treehouse? There surely must be more stories? Inquiring minds wanna know! LOL

Teresa Hartman said...

Thanks Dee - laughter was what I was aiming for. As for the 'rest of the story', as the great Paul Harvey used to say, well... (wink, wink)-I can be reached by phone! Sending you all the best and smile galore!

Shalil Giannone said...


Great post I got a great laugh reading it. Just this morning I heard that Dr. Bill is presenting a talk on head & neck cancers and their connection to STDs. I had the same thought as you - great now people are going to think that I smoke, drink and stay "busy"! However as Dr. Bill told me some of us just draw the short straw - bummer. I have seriously considered taking up some vices as my diagnosis of ACC - why not at this point! Thank you for the post always good to start the morning with a laugh. Shalil (a fellow goody two shoes ACC survivor)

Jeanne Sather said...

Teri--I think this is one bit of research that calls for a snappy comeback. Yours about the two guys in the tree house is great!

I'll try to come up with some more. How about a comeback about the football team after the big game?

How have you been? Busy?

Did you see my post that I am now officially in remission? Doing the happy dance in Seattle!



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