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hpv16 explained

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There’s no fake news about HPV16 explained in the Washington Post, even if you wish it weren’t true.

A story headlined, “What men should know about cancer that spreads through oral sex,” ran April 2 this year.

Impressive stuff to jump start Head, Neck, and Throat Cancer Week.

What should they know? What should I know? What should you know?

When actor Michael Douglas told a reporter that his throat cancer was caused by HPV contracted through oral sex, two themes emerged that had nothing to do with celebrity gossip. The first was incredulity — since when was oral sex related to throat cancer? Even the reporter thought he had misheard. The second was embarrassment. This was too much information, not only about sexual behavior but also about one’s partners.

The partner confession is harder than it sounds. And like the whole P16 treatment part, it has it’s own special side effects.

Who wants to tell someone you’ve had a past with, who you’ve got a future with, about getting HPV16 tongue cancer?

It just sounds suspicious on every count.

They might want to know who you got it from. And when. Don’t forget when.

You might want to know if you got it from them, how they got it. And when.

Except no one’s talking, at least not where you’ll hear about it. This is the revealing part.

Friends may ask.

“They ask?”

“Yes, they ask. They are friends.”

“Did they ask like they thought I was slipping around?”

“Why wouldn’t they think that?”

“Is that what friends think?”

“Remember what you thought when your friend’s wife said he was abusive? You thought it might be true.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Really? Like there was no way?”

“No way I know.”

“What if it was a side effect of medication interaction?”

“I don’t know that. The person I know isn’t an abuser.”

“And you don’t cheat on your marriage?”

“Correct. I do know that, and I haven’t.”

“Then how am I supposed to explain this to friends who ask how it feels to be married to a cheater?”

“I’m not a cheater, therefore you’re not married to one.”

“They don’t know that.”

“Do you know that?”

“That you’re not a cheater?”

“I saw what you did there. It could be you.”

“It’s not me.”

“Me neither.”

“Then what do I say?”

“Say you’re married for thirty one years and the HPV16 virus lays dormant for thirty two years.”

“What about next year?”

“Big science breakthrough shows it lays dormant for thirty three years.”

“This is serious and you go funny?”

HPV16 explained further
Today, there is no doubt in the medical community that the increase in HPV-related cancers such as the one Douglas described — which he later explained was found at the base of his tongue — is caused by sexual practices, in his case cunnilingus. And there is an urgency to better treat and prevent what is becoming the one type of oral cancer whose numbers are climbing, especially among men in the prime of their lives who have decades to live with the consequences of their cancer treatment.

There’s nothing funny about the consequences of cunnilingus. And certainly nothing funny about stage four cancer of any kind.

But HPV16 explained how it was.

For this survivor it adds a certain twist:

So a guy goes to his doctor and the doc says, “You’ve got three months to live, and here’s your bill.”

“That’s awful news, doc. And the bill? I can’t pay that.”

“Okay, I’ll give you six months.”

The number of people diagnosed with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer, tumors found in the middle of the pharynx or throat including the back of the tongue, soft palate, sides of throat and tonsils — is relatively small — about 12,638 men and 3,100 women in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But these numbers are expected to continue to rise, overtaking incidence of cervical cancer by 2020. One study revealed the presence of HPV in 20.9 percent of oropharyngeal tumors before 1990, compared with 65.4 percent in those sampled after 2000.

If you do the math what do you see?

Really, do the math. I got the cancer, you do the math.

HPV16 explained the math just fine, then I found this site:


By the time I read I was well along the treatment road. In fact I avoided reading cancer related personal information until then.

Everyone has a sweet spot, and Pamela Tom hit mine.

Our mission is to provide education about HPV infection and HPV-positive cancers, specifically HPV-related oropharyngeal or head and neck cancers. HPVANDME is also dedicated to supporting people affected by HPV: patients, partners, and caregivers.

During my bouts of self-pity, those Nancy Kerrigan “Why, Why, Why,” weeks, Ms Tom spoke of a safe place.

It was about me, without being about me. Perfect. Then she added the frosting on her online cupcake with:

I am not a doctor. I’m a wife, mother, and multimedia journalist. When my husband was diagnosed with HPV throat cancer, I knew I had to do something to spread public awareness about the HPV throat cancer pandemic.

HPVANDME is intended to help those who are and will be affected by HPV throat cancer. The reach is large … men, women, teenagers, parents, doctors, and researchers.

She’s the wife of the man with HPV16 throat cancer? And writes a blog?

HPV16 explained it all, she explained HPV16.

This is her work from the Huffington Post.

Pamela Tom might welcome stories to Hpv and Me, but I’ll give a warning, some are really harsh.

HPVANDME is about YOU. It’s about everyone who wants to know more about HPV throat cancer – how to prevent it, how to fight it, how to live through it. I welcome the many stories out there about HPV throat cancer. Each case carries similarities and unique experiences; and by sharing them, we will learn and help each other.

I know what you’re thinking here:

“There’s the wind up, and here comes the pitch.”

Except Ms Tom isn’t pitching, I am.

The book I’m writing, the book moving from one I envisioned to one I’m writing with editorial supervision, thank you Ali of Indigo Editing, is the about the slow choking, teeth feeling super glued to lips, the distant neuropathy of tingling toes and blister-sole feeling feet.

Without my usual whining, it’s a painful tour of waiting rooms and instant friendships built on common fear.

Thank you for your continued support. Together we will help prevent more cases of HPV throat cancer and help those who are fighting it, during and after treatment.

HPVANDME is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Pamela Tom, Founder


Put yourself in their place, hear what HPV16 explained to them.

You’ve got cancer, they’ve got to do something. They always do something.

Problems solvers have that in common, they do things to solve problems.

Like a controlled burn prevents forest fires, loved ones’ help and concern is part scorched earth, part gardening.

They go after problems with the tenacity of a mongoose on a cobra. How can the snake ever lose?

But they do. The fights go on by instinct.

Supported by the facts and links presented by the Washington Post, buoyed by the spirit of HPV and Me, I continue to present original content on P16 throat cancer.

What ought to be a stage feels like a calling. I blame the times.

For example, why is the the same treatment I received here so much less in India?

A current post going around facebook shows the pill to cure Hep C; $900 if you go to India, $84,000 if you stay home.

My question? If I went to India, would I get the same treatment? Is there any lost in translation stuff that happens?

The world press too often reports on medical procedures that remove the wrong organ, appendage, anything with more than one choice.

And that’s without a language barrier.

The words that echo so clear in my chamber of life come from my wife.

This may not be an exact quote:

“This cancer won’t kill you unless you screw around. And I still might.”

About David Gillaspie


  1. […] Josh own’s his cancer? I got advised not to own it, like, “My cancer is called HPV16 tongue cancer.” […]

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