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Story ID:5114
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:New York New York USA
Person:Stephen Reynolds
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A universal truth -- there are always consequences to our actions. We
know that if every day we eat like there is no tomorrow -there is a good
chance we will develope heart problems or become diabetic. Both of these
health conditions are very serious and can lead to a premature death.

Yesterday, I caught a small segment of Dr. Phil where he was warning a young
girl who likes to text while driving that she is putting people's lives at risk
with a 5,000 pound weapon, and that her reflex time is cut considerably when
she doesn't devote full attention to driving. Of course, that goes for all of us.

And then I read as did probably some of you-- the August '08 riveting story of
a 45 -year old man's account of developing throat cancer in "The Farthest
Shore." Never having smoked, he didn't know as most people at the time that
there would be the consequences of HPV - Human Papillomavirus - which is
sexually transmitted. This is the same virus which causes the majority of
cervical cancers and warts.

Per the writer: "The risks are scary because the virus is really common, even
in teenagers. Twenty million people in the United States have some form of
HPV, and over six million more get it every year. It can be transmitted through
oral sex, and both men and women can be infected. Of more than 35,000 people
who will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, 24 percent of us will connect
our diagnosis to HPV infection. As my treatment continues, I'm struck by how
nobody seems to know about any of this."

I am so saddened that we are living in a time when anything goes sexually and
that as long as you are having fun and pleasure - that's all that counts. Well,
Stephen Reynolds, the writer who contracted throat cancer - never having smoked
ever -said that he was surprised that something sexual in his past came back to
haunt him. I think many of us too will be surprised to find out just how seriously
his sexual indiscretion cost him in pain and suffering which he candidly shares
with RD readers.

I would imagine that throat cancer is especially horrendous since it affects our
eating and speaking abilities. The article is too long to condense but Stephen
does have his cancerous throat tumor removed, and then as his wife notes re his
impending chemo and radiation protocul - "First we'll hit you over the head with a
hammer, then we'll light you on fire."

Re the problems of eating, he is urged to use a feeding tube which he refuses.
They tell him he could put a Big Mac in a blender - grind it up with protein
shakes and pour it into the tube.

He resists because he says he doesn't want to learn how to swallow again.
He vows to keep on eating no matter the pain. Re this he writes: "But
anything with real flavor is torturous. Salt, lemon, sharp tastes of any kind
are excruciating. I am reduced to water and protein drinks, soft eggs in the
morning and sometimes a bit of chicken potpie or the rediscovered joys of
tuna casserole at night, I have so far resisted the fentanyl-based pain
patches I am offered, but chewing becomes the most painful and difficult
thing I can imagine."

His account ends happily when he, his wife Hilary and their son Tynan
are able to go again as they did each year to Cape Cod where the ocean
breezes and the invigorating rompings on the sandy beach makes his
horrendous chapter with throat cancer a forgettable memory.

I appreciated Stephen Reynolds sharing his story with the readers of the
Reader's Digest. I hope the message of the seriousness of HPV will not
be lost on them or us as a result. If every one comes away with the truth that
illicit sexual forays sometimes have serious consequences, I'm sure there
will probably be less incidences of cervical and throat cancers.

I'm glad I lived at a time when the sacredness of marriage was instilled
in us. Many of us still hold onto the 10 commandments and the sixth one
which addresses sexuality. We had hoped that teaching sex classes to
youth would make them wiser and less inclined to dabble with sex. Sadly,
it seems the reverse is true. And even sadder is that some parents object
to classes which teach complete abstinence only until marriage. Obviously,
the lesson of consequences is lost on a lot of us.