Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn Loses Battle with Cancer

There are a few times, though not many, that my love of baseball intersects with my professional life of dentistry.  Unfortunately, this is one of those times.
As a baseball fan, I was always fond of Tony Gwynn.  From what I've read over the years, he was truly one of the sport's "good guys".  His interviews were always sprinkled with laughter and an infectious energy that just flat out got you caught up in whatever it was Tony was talking about.  I can still remember seeing him interviewed about Rickey Henderson when Rickey retired.  The interview was a study in hilarity as Tony acted out Rickey who was referring to himself in the third person.  ":Yo, T!  You gotta help Rickey find new cleats!" or something like that.  Tony was giggling like a schoolboy.
The story wasn't nearly as funny as just watching Tony tell it.  The energy and the laugh just made you want to listen.
Yesterday, this bright light was extinguished as Tony Gwynn lost his battle with salivary gland cancer.  He had chewed tobacco for most of his career and had personally stated that he felt his use of tobacco had caused the cancer.  Tony was 54 and is gone way, way too soon.
This is, unfortunately, the place where my profession intersects with my love of baseball.  Oral cancer robs us of one life every hour here in the United States.  It is one of the few cancers that is actually becoming more common… affecting more people instead of fewer each year.  Unfortunately, one of those who succumbed today was Tony Gwynn.
There is a reason why I'm so passionate about oral cancer screenings being performed on a regular basis in the dental office.  Anything we can do to minimize the impact of this terrible disease, the better.  Tony was only 54 years old.  He leaves behind a family and a huge number of fans who loved him.  He is gone way too early and its sad.  To lose anyone at 54 years of age is a tragedy.
If you are a dentist, please make sure you are doing oral cancer screenings on your patients.  If you are a patient and haven't had a checkup in a while, schedule one today and make sure it includes an oral cancer screening.
RIP Tony.  You left us way too soon...

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