Bad breath? One man’s warning of throat cancer

Today I’m not posting about AML Leukemia and my bone marrow transplant.. today is about THROAT CANCER/the HPV connection and a kind man I met at our Hackerman-Patz family pavilion.

If you knew someone had bad breath would you just assume they don’t take care of their teeth or they are eating too much food like fish or garlic? Did you know it could be a sign of CANCER or other serious illnesses? The mouth is the gateway to your body so pay attention. A problem there could be a sign of infection elsewhere in the body. Every problem is connected to something else. Don’t ignore little problems that could be telling of a big picture issue.
Let me share this gentleman’s story. Staying here at the hospital family pavilion means you meet and connect with so many families going through trying times. We all have cancer but different forms of it and you know my mission is to inform, educate and raise awareness so i would feel bad not sharing other stories that we can all learn from so we can protect our family and loved ones from cancer and look for warning signs.

Gary went for about a year with bad breath which he had not previously had. When he mentioned it to his dentist on 2 different checkups, he was told to gargle with mouthwash after brushing his teeth. But then In September, the late 60 year old, noticed a lump under his jawbone on the left side of his neck and an irritation in the bottom of his mouth, under his tongue. After a routine check up with his doctor, a CT showed a tumor. With in the span of 2 weeks, he had a CT scan, a biopsy, and a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma. After a meeting with an oncologist, a PET scan, then an ENT appointment Gary had surgery to remove left tonsil, right tonsil, lymph nodes in left side of neck and some tissue in back of throat. They “thought” they got it. Gary decided to ask for second opinion for treatment at Hopkins. Thank GOD he did. That surgery was NOT needed and instead he needed radiation directly to the tumor something Hopkins specializes in. They decided to take radiation (5 times per week for 6 weeks) and chemo once a week concurrent with radiation.

What caused his throat cancer? The HPV virus. Doctors said he could have had it for 30 years and it was dormant but then got triggered. In older men, HPV can turn into throat cancer. Gary is a non-smoker, non-drinker. They are told that HPV-16 (HPV positive) cancer has a high rate of cure, unlike cancers of the throat that are caused by drinking and smoking.

The message, men between the age of 50 to 70, should NOT let a lump in the neck go undiagnosed. Get your doctor to get a CT scan and if necessary, a biopsy. Check your husband, remind your brother, father, and other loved ones. Also, please note HPV can also lead to cervical cancer in women.

One day Gary was playing golf and the next day he had a diagnosis of cancer. Very hard to understand…..he was not taking any medication at the time….no blood pressure pills, no cholesterol meds….nothing….and yet he has cancer of the throat. Researchers believe that it can take between 10 and 20 years from the time of an initial HPV infection until a tumor forms.

Gary and his wife tell me, they are reminded of a statement made in the movie Titanic….Leo DeCapro said to Rose…..”Make each day count”.

Again, please another reason for you to #ArmorUp for LIFE®. This isn’t just about your body getting fit for life, it’s about being prepared for whatever life throws your way and taking preventative measures for your health. If you have ANYTHING out of the ordinary not go away.. it’s a problem. Bad breath? It could be throat cancer. Sore throat, other infections not heal on its own? it could be Leukemia. There are countless stories to tell here. Don’t let yours be one of them.

#ArmorUp for LIFE® Be Prepared for Life


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