Monthly Archives: April 2015

Curt Schilling: Letter to my younger self

Source: www.theplayerstribune.com
Author: Curt Schilling

Dear 16-year-old Curt,
Tomorrow at lunch, a kid is going to dare you to take a dip of Copenhagen. If you say yes, like I did, you’ll be addicted for the rest of your life. Well, the rest of your life up to the point when you are diagnosed with cancer.

I get what you’re thinking. You’re 16 — you’re invincible, just like all your buddies. If you were to jump ahead 33 years, you couldn’t write a better dream than the one your life is going to be.

With one exception.

If you say yes tomorrow, you will become addicted to chewing tobacco and you will get mouth cancer.
schilling

I’m going to tell you a little story that I think may help guide you. (I saw this on a TV series called The West Wing — great show, you’re going to love it one day — and it very much rings true).

There was a man — we’ll call him Joe. Joe lived in the same house his entire life. One day, a huge storm came. He turned on the radio: Prepare for torrential rains and deadly flash flooding. Everyone should evacuate to safety immediately.

See, Joe was a devout Christian. He had the Lord in his life for as long as he could remember. Church every Sunday, prayed twice a day.

“My faith in God is resolute. He will save me,” Joe thought.

The rain kept coming down.

About two hours later, water began to flood his house, so he scrambled on to the roof.

After a half-hour, with the water rising rapidly, a boat sputtered up to Joe’s house, which was now partially submerged.

Boat driver: “Come on down, I will take you to safety!”

Joe sat calmly on his roof.

Joe: “No thanks! My faith in God is strong, God will save me!”

So the boat sped off.

Another hour went by, and the water had risen to the roof.

A helicopter flew over, saw Joe and swooped down, dropping down a rope.

Helicopter pilot: “Grab a hold! I will pull you up!”

Joe: “No thank you! My faith in the Lord is strong. He will save me!!”

The man looked awkwardly at what he could only guess was someone who’d lost his mind. The helicopter flew off.

About 10 minutes later the water overtook Joe’s roof, so he swam out into the strong current. It quickly pulled him below.

When Joe opened his eyes, he saw the Lord standing at the gates of Heaven.

“Joe, what on earth are you doing here??”

“I was just about to ask you that very question, Father,” Joe replied.

“Wait… what?” says God.

“Father I have had Faith in you since my first memory. I have prayed morning and night to you. I have sinned, but you know that in my heart I have asked for forgiveness and tried my hardest to do right by you.”

“Yes, Joe I know in your heart you are a good, honest and loving man.”

“Then why did you let me die?” Joe asked.

“I sent you a radio message, a boat and a helicopter! What more did you want?”

I tell you, 16-year-old me, that story for a very important reason. From tomorrow forward, you will be given the same signs that Joe was given a hundred times over. Many will be far more insightful and far more telling than the ones he received.

You will develop sores, you will lose your sense of taste and smell. You will develop lesions. You will lose your gums — they will rot. You will have problems with your teeth for the rest of your life.

You will meet men — many good, honest men — who chewed. None of them will have their entire face. They will be missing jaws, chins, cheeks, noses and more. None will live more than a year or two after you meet them. All of them were tobacco chewers.

You will meet Joe Garigiola. He will introduce you to Bill Tuttle. Bill will have no lower face. His entire lower jaw is gone. It was that, or die of mouth cancer. Well, not “that or,” because that mouth cancer would kill him inside of two years.

You will brush your teeth and your mouth will bleed. Not light blood from your gums, but darker blood from deeper inside your mouth. That’s the chew destroying your tissue. You will get message after message, but your addiction will always win, until it wins the biggest battle.

You will get message after message, but your addiction will always win, until it wins the biggest battle

If you say yes tomorrow, you will begin to kill yourself from the inside out. It’s difficult for you to understand in this current phase of your life, but by chewing tobacco, you are jeopardizing your participation in what will be some of your most important moments.

You will risk any chance of seeing your four amazing children graduate high school. You will potentially lose the opportunity to walk your daughter Gabriella (who, like her dad, will be blessed with simple yet outstanding pitching mechanics) down the aisle. You will risk not seeing Gehrig, your oldest son, pitch for four years at a New England college. You may miss your son Grant graduating high school and changing the world. And you may be absent as your youngest son Garrison — who aspires to follow in your father’s footsteps and join the army — masterfully plays goalie with a remarkable passion.

You could miss the most important and rewarding days of your life with your beautiful wife Shonda.

If cancer kills you, what are you leaving them with? What are you leaving them for?

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Your dad is going to die in five years. You know what’s going to kill him? A heart attack brought on by heart disease and lung cancer caused by tobacco use. He’ll die right in front of you. You two will be alone and together for his final minutes on earth. The night before he passes away, you two are going to sit up and talk until 4 a.m. You will chalk up the conversation as peculiar, but years later it will hit you like a ton of bricks. It will hit you like a radio message, boat or helicopter. He knew. It’s why the things he told you that night were things only a dad can tell a son. He knew.

Right now, you don’t listen to the messages God gives you. And if you don’t alter this habit, in 32 years you will be diagnosed with cancer.

Finally, consider this: How many kids will start dipping over the next 32 years because they saw you do it?

Do you want that on you? No?

Then my advice is simple. Tomorrow, at lunch, just say no.

Make the right choice,

– Curt

April, 2015|Oral Cancer News|

The Oral Cancer Foundation Launches April Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Source: Yahoo News
Author: The Oral Cancer Foundation
 

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., April 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. 2015 marks the 16th year that The Oral Cancer Foundation has lead the effort to raise awareness of this disease and the need for an annual screening.

OCF has learned that although we accomplish a great deal as an organization, we can do so much more through the formation of strategic relationships with those who share our values and goals. OCF is grateful to the thousands of private dental offices that make time on multiple days during the month of April to offer free screenings to members of the public in their local communities across the nation. Besides the screening itself, these offices provide valuable information to the public related to risk factors and early signs and symptoms. An informed public can engage in self-discovery, which has generated early stage finds in so many other cancers.

In addition to the 1,000’s of private dental offices who will join with OCF this April, a coalition of professional organizations, private sectors companies, and educational institutions have chosen to partner with us. The professional organizations include; The American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), The American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA), The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), The American Dental Association (ADA), The American Academy of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology (AAOMP), and The Canadian Dental Hygiene Association (CDHA).  Our private sector corporate partners include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Henry Schein Dental, LED/VELscope, OralID and Identafi. The university partners this year are NYU, Penn Dental Medicine, and Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.

Jamie O’Day, OCF Director of Operations, expressed, “We are very proud that we have been able to assemble a powerful coalition of organizations, all with a vested interest in the oral cancer cause. OCF is thrilled to be in the company of such prestigious organizations and institutions. Coupled with thousands of private dental practitioners, this creates a formidable force to alter the late discovery paradigm that has plagued this disease for too many years.”

OCF Co-Founder Ingrid Hill, states that “There are steps as a nation that WE MUST take if we are to bring this disease down from its high ranking as a killer.

  • Since the HPV16 virus has become the fastest growing cause of oropharyngeal (back of the mouth) cancers, we must engage in a more robust effort to vaccinate our youth against this virus and allow our children and grandchildren to live in a country that has reached herd immunity against HPV related cancers, all of which are killers.
  • Create a national effort, ideally lead by dental professionals who see more than 60% of Americans at least once a year, to screen everyone opportunistically that currently visit their practices, as the vaccine only works in pre-sexual youth. Catching cancers in the current adult generation of Americans at early stages decreases treatment related morbidity, and improves long-term outcomes.
  • Create enough public awareness and knowledge that some SELF DISCOVERY of early signs and symptoms can occur, and self-referral for evaluation to medical or dental professionals takes place. Combined with professional screening, this will also yield more early stage discovery of both pre-cancers and early stage disease.”

Primary risk factors for developing an oral or oropharyngeal cancer

  • Tobacco use in all its forms
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • A persistent HPV16 (human papilloma virus #16) oral infection

Oral cancer signs and symptoms identifiable in a conventional visual and tactile screening

  • An ulcer or sore that does not heal within 2-3 weeks
  • A discoloration on the soft tissues of the mouth that persists. It may be white, red, or even blackish in color
  • A swelling or lump in the mouth that persists. This also applies to a tonsil that is swollen but painless
  • Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched. (friable)
  • A lump, or hard spot in the tissue. (induration)
  • Tissue raised above that surrounding it, a growth. (exophytic)
  • A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, still does not heal.
  • A numb feeling in the mouth or lips
  • Persistent sore throat, hoarse voice, or cough
  • A painless fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks
  • Difficult or painful swallowing, or a painless sensation that when swallowing things are becoming stuck in your throat
  • An ear ache on one side (unilateral) which persists for a protracted period of time

OCF releases its 2015 projections for oral and oropharyngeal cancers derived from the government SEER database.

45,750 Americans will be newly diagnosed with an oral or oropharyngeal cancer, and there will be approximately 8,650 associated deaths. That is a one-year jump of about 5%. Brian Hill, Executive Director and Co-Founder of OCF stated, “Big numbers are hard to digest, even abstract to individuals, and people are not sure how important this data is. In simpler terms, it means 125 Americans will be newly diagnosed every day, and one American will die from this disease every hour of the day 24/7/365.  Since the two drivers of these numbers are a preventable lifestyle choice, (tobacco use), and a virus (HPV16) for which we have a readily available vaccine, the use of which would protect our next generation, is disheartening. Worse, with the virus being the more aggressive driver of these statistics, this number is without doubt, going to increase every year during our generation, since there is no vaccine for adults already exposed. When compared to other first world countries, the U.S. is far behind in vaccination and reaching herd immunity in our young people. Speaking as someone who almost lost his life to this disease from an HPV etiology, and who talks with patients and families in crisis with routine, my personal opinion is that we as Americans are doing a poor job of controlling tobacco use, contrary to scientific evidence of its harm. Given the huge financial component to the tobacco paradigm in the U.S. and the lack of any political will to change it, I do not see this undergoing any significant change in the future. That we have no national vaccine policy to protect our youth/the next generation with something in our power to change, policies accomplished with huge success in other countries around the world, I find unconscionable.”

It’s not too late to join with the other thousands of dental offices to get involved in bringing down these numbers. Click the following link to learn more about oral cancer awareness month, and how to create your own Free Oral Cancer Screening Event if you are a professional. http://www.oralcancer.org/events/oral-cancer-awareness-month.php

Members of the public can view our online calendar of events to find a screening event near them at – http://www.oralcancer-screening.org/events/?d=2015-04-01&b=1.

Be aware. Get Screened. BE PART OF THE CHANGE.

About the Oral Cancer Foundation
The Oral Cancer Foundation, founded by oral cancer survivor Brian R. Hill, is an IRS registered non-profit 501(c)(3) public service charity that provides information, patient support, sponsorship of research, and advocacy related to this disease. Oral cancer is the largest group of those cancers that fall into the head and neck cancer category. Common names for it include such things as mouth cancer, tongue cancer, head and neck cancer, and throat cancer. OCF maintains a web site at http://www.oralcancer.org, which receives millions of hits per month. Supporting the foundation’s goals is a scientific advisory board composed of leading cancer authorities from varied medical and dental specialties, and from prominent educational, treatment, and research institutions in the United States.

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

A Pastime Baseball Can Do Without

 
Source:http://www.wsj.com 
Author: Larry Thornberry

 

The Major League Baseball season starts Monday, with many a pinch of tobacco between many a cheek and gum. Not everyone is happy about this (about the chewing tobacco, that is). The San Francisco board of supervisors is considering a measure to put chew off-limits at every ball field in the city, including AT&T Park, where the world-champion Giants play.

A bill introduced February in the California Assembly would do the same in pro and league venues across the whole state. Major League Baseball supports this approach, since it cannot get the powerful players union on board with a chewing-tobacco ban. No word on how the laws would be enforced, but the sponsor of the state bill says don’t expect chew cops in dugouts or snuff-sniffing dogs in stands.

Until relatively recently, tobacco around baseball clubhouses wasn’t considered much to worry about. As a young fan in the 1950s, I was used to players like Nellie Fox and Bill Tuttle, who stuffed so much chaw in their cheeks that they appeared to be trying to swallow a softball. One of my favorite players of the day, Rocky Bridges, looked like a chipmunk with a buzzcut. Baseball cards, an obsession with preteen boys for the better part of the last century, first came with packs of cigarettes, only later with bubble gum.

Back in the day, sportswriters weren’t quick to link tobacco and the early deaths of former ballplayers. It was obvious in the case of Bill Tuttle, who died of mouth cancer at 69 after disfiguring surgery. But not clear was whether all those years of Nellie Fox’s chewing had anything to do with his death at 47 from lymphatic cancer.

Nor was a connection made in 1948 when the superstar of superstars, Babe Ruth, died at 53 of throat cancer. The Bambino smoked and admitted to taking up chewing at age 5. But he also drank heavily and generally pursued whatever life-shortening activity amused him. So we are left to wonder.

But the risk these days is clearer. A couple of examples from the contemporary scene: Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, one of the game’s classiest hitters and by all accounts a fine man, dead last year at 54 from salivary-gland cancer. More fortunate is former All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling, 48, whose mouth cancer is in remission. Tobacco is no airy or debatable health threat like cholesterol. We have everything but a signed confession from the weed.

With all this carnage, you’d think it would be easy to put an end to a ritual that damages players and tempts young fans. But Major League Baseball has moved slowly on this one. Smoking on the field or in the dugout has been verboten for a good while, and smokeless tobacco has been prohibited in the minor leagues since 1993, though many players say this ban is laxly enforced. In the bigs, where players have a pit-bull union, smokeless tobacco can still be used, though players are prohibited from chewing during postgame interviews. So in the nation’s most traditional sport, the toxic habit endures.

The normal impulse of the red-blooded Americano is to groan whenever government attempts to micromanage the lives of consenting adults. It is a little harder to protest the drive against chewing tobacco in baseball, an effort that will likely prevail in due course. That said, it sure would be nice if these guys would give up the chew of their own volition—and recognize that anyone who doesn’t is either self-destructive or dumb as a bag of hammers.

What might doom chew in the end is simply its aesthetics. I never understood the charm—the slobbering, the expectorating, the unspeakable spit cups. For years I played in local amateur leagues, fine organizations that got husbands out from under their wives’ feet on Sunday afternoons. Some of my teammates considered a pouch of Red Man as much a part of their gear as their glove or their cleats. I was partial to bubble gum, convinced that when sliding into a 230-pound catcher, whether safe or out, I wouldn’t find swallowing a soggy clump of tobacco a highlight of my day.

The introduction of sunflower seeds in big-league dugouts was definitely one of the modern game’s more civilizing innovations.

Mr. Thornberry is a writer in Tampa, Fla.

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

April, 2015|Oral Cancer News|