Another Saturday night in Powhatan county, and up on the stage, a local rock band is wailing. But one of the rockers on stage is not like the others. The drummer is a living, breathing medical miracle.
Danny Mizelle spent 30 years living by the motto - drugs, sex and rock n' roll. Well, maybe not drugs, so much, but the sex was never in short supply. In fact, it almost killed him.
Danny was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer, and his doctors didn't mince words when describing how he got it.
"This is from human papalomavirus from oral sex," said Mizelle. "All my doctors told me, that’s it’s from oral sex."
It all started with a node on Danny's tonsils. It didn't hurt, and his general practitioner told him not to worry about it. But within a year, it tripled in size, with swelling so severe on one side of his face, it almost closed his throat.
Today, he is cancer free - but at an incredible cost. He can't swallow, spit or even take a deep breath, and he talks through a trach tube in his throat. Since this happened, Danny has been on a mission to get parents to vaccinate their children for HPV.
"Had there been a Gardasil vaccine, you know, back then, this wouldn’t have happened," he said.
The science suggests he is right. It's been proven the Gardasil vaccine can prevent 9 out of 10 cases of a cancer that affects the tongue, throat, and cervix. The problem is, many parents are under the misimpression that it's only for girls.
"When Gardasil first came out in 2006, it was only for girls," said Dr. Wendy Bowman, Ob/Gyn with Alliance Women’s Health. "It’s now recommended for both boys and girls at ages 11 or 12."
Dr. John Svirsky, DDS, MEd and professor of Oral Pathology at VCU medical center, sees HPV-16 biopsies in his microscope all the time. While HPV is now the cause of about 70 percent of certain male oral cancers, the risk of developing one isn't that great.
"The number of people that have oral sex is HUGE - but the number of people that get oral cancer is minimal," he said.
Still, it's a risk. Danny spends a lot of time researching cancer and has learned that young men who have six or more oral sex partners - increase their risk of oral cancer, ten-fold.
He tells anyone who will listen: "Boys should absolutely be vaccinated, I’m proof!"
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