The Day We Figured Out How To Stop Cancer… And Then Didn’t.


Rebel With A Label Maker

Oropharyngeal cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat.  Hard on the physician, I mean.

Hard on the patient, too.  They’re usually young, in cancer terms… below fifty.  They start with radiation and chemo—which involve massive pain and other discomforts.  If that doesn’t work, Gary usually splits the man’s (it’s usually a man’s) jaw.  The patient is more likely to live than die, but a lifetime of pain and trouble swallowing is common.  A feeding tube can be needed, sometimes permanently.

Used to be, you got this cancer from heavy smoking and drinking.  Then some public health people did some great things to address those problems, and those cancers have been falling off steadily.  So now, when the patient asks “Why did this happen to me?” (as patients often do), there is a sense of injustice.  Often, the guy is a non smoker, and doesn’t drink much.

“Well…” Gary…

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