Did you hear about the latest celebrity oral cancer news?
Not Michael Douglas’. The other.
Yes. There was.
No sex. No he-said-no-he-didn’t-yes-he-did drama. Little attention.
Kelly’s cancer is just the latest of “numerous health problems [he has dealt with] over the past few years.” Earlier this year, he lost his front teeth so surgeons could remove a cyst from his gums and nasal cavity. Now surgeons will remove part of his upper jaw. Chemo may follow. Or not.
Despite this, Kelly insists that they “caught it in time.”
Lord knows what the recommended treatment would be if they hadn’t.
Meanwhile, most all the chatter around Douglas has focused on his blaming his cancer on HPV acquired through oral sex – and maybe stress over his son’s imprisonment on a drug charge. Though a representative quickly issued a statement claiming that Douglas had been “misquoted,” the Guardian has stood by its story and posted audio of “the relevant part of the interview” online.
Xan Brooks: Do you feel, in hindsight, that you overloaded your system? Overloaded your system with drugs, smoking, drink?
Michael Douglas: No. No. Ah, without getting too specific, this particular cancer is caused by something called HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus.
Actually, it can come about from any kind of oral sex, and the general consensus is that HPV is why oral cancer rates have been rising. Most HPV-related oral cancers seem to occur in the back of the mouth, though, not at the base of the tongue where Douglas says “there was a walnut-size tumour…that no other doctor had seen” – including “a series of specialists,” all of whom “missed the tumour and instead prescribed antibiotics.”
Eight weeks of intensive chemo and radiation followed.
He refused to use a feeding tube, despite his palate being burnt on account of the treatment, and so lost 20kg (45lb) on a liquids-only diet. “That’s a rough ride. That can really take it out of you,” he told the Guardian. “Plus the amount of chemo I was getting, it zaps all the good stuff too. It made me very weak.”
Despite differences between these two cases – and how the media has treated them – they do seem to share one factor: Both came on the heels of significant physical, mental and emotional burdens. There were previous health issues and multiple medical interventions that put a body under stress and contaminate the extracellular matrix (terrain) with pharmaceutical toxins. Douglas also has his history of heavy drinking and tobacco use – both more likely cancer causes than HPV, according to at least one doctor quoted in the press.
It’s the way of much modern illness. It’s not just the smoking. It’s not just the heavy drinking. It’s not just the HPV. It’s not just stress. It’s not just the drugs. It’s not just any one choice or habit or happenstance at all.
It’s everything coming together into a dynamic that gives rise to disease. The body does its best to continue to self-regulate, but the more burdened it becomes, the less effectively and efficiently it can do this.
And here’s where we have a choice: Do we try to force it to work like a healthy body, manipulating it with drugs, surgery and other routine interventions and call it a success when symptoms are concealed?
Or do we work on repairing the body’s self-regulating mechanisms so they can restore and sustain health as they were designed to do?
Image by Avital Pinnick, via Flickr