Lipi Posted January 26 Share Posted January 26 Tony Gwynn died 9 years ago, from cancer that he contracted from dipping. This appeared in the San Diego paper today. Tony Gwynn was my dad. Nine years after cancer stole him, I still work to end the disease. [Gwynn Jr. is a San Diego Padres broadcaster and former Major League Baseball player. He lives in Poway]. Since I was a young man, my health, both mental and physical, have been integral to who I am as a person. I understood that full body health, and caring for it, takes work, and an understanding that every decision we make impacts other parts of our bodies. Think of the old children’s song, “The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone, the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,” and you will get it. My family never took our health for granted. In fact, it was inherent in all aspects of our life, from daily pickup basketball games with friends, to my sister and I playing multiple sports at Poway High School, to incorporating healthy activities into our off-season getaways. We not only understood the importance of health, we enjoyed and respected the many gifts it presented us. And, unfortunately, we also came to understand how fragile our health, and our lives, really were. My dad was our rock. He was our hero, our leader, and he was seemingly invincible. Who could have imagined that the one foe he could not defeat would arrive in a small tin can that easily fit into his back pocket. My father, Tony Gwynn Sr., became addicted, like so many other Americans, to tobacco. His preferred method of use was, as the can suggested, putting a chunk of tobacco between his cheek and gums. He started using smokeless tobacco as a youngster, inspired by the fun and enticing advertising for the products (which seemingly appeared everywhere kids were watching), and by spotting his favorite pro athletes coolly gnawing a large chunk of the stuff before performing miraculous feats on the baseball field. Once he tried it, the product did what it was manufactured to do — addict him to lifelong use. Later in life, Dad started learning more about the dangers of smokeless tobacco and thought quitting would be the right thing to do. He tried. Over and over, he tried. The siren in that tin can was simply too alluring — and his body was telling him he needed the stuff. When an athlete’s body tells him it “needs” something, it is nearly impossible not to listen. That’s addiction. In 2010, my father felt a lump inside his right cheek near where his “chew” typically resided. When it did not quickly recede, he visited his doctor and was diagnosed with cancer of the parotid gland, one of two salivary glands in the mouth. Over the next four years, he fought with all his might, but every remission was met with recurrence and every treatment took a staggering toll. Up to this point, nothing had ever stolen the glint of hope from my dad’s eyes or his famously huge grin. Cancer eventually did just that as treatments caused the loss of nerve control in much of his face. My father’s ubiquitous smile was gone, and our hero, Mr. Padre, was stolen from all of us way too soon in June 2014 at only 54 years old. As utterly devastated as my family was, we were equally committed to raising awareness of the dangers of tobacco and taking action so other families in San Diego and across the country would never have to live this nightmare. We wanted people to understand Big Tobacco’s role in marketing to children. We urged amateur and professional sports organizations to stop tobacco use in stadiums, practice facilities and more. I continue this work today and recently joined the San Diego Local Leadership Board of the American Lung Association. I work to support its Lung Force initiative to raise awareness of lung cancer and raise funds to end the disease, which today is the deadliest cancer in San Diego and across the country. I’m proud to report that over the last nine years, the Lung Force initiative has raised more than $26 million to support lifesaving lung cancer education, advocacy and research. One of the reasons lung cancer is so deadly is because it’s often caught too late. Lung cancer screening can help detect the disease early when it’s more likely to be curable. Annual screenings with low-dose CT scans can reduce the lung cancer death rate by up to 20 percent, but unfortunately only 1 percent of California residents who were eligible because of risk factors were screened last year. We must do better. My hope is that, with your help, we can save the lives of the everyday heroes in families throughout San Diego. Please join me at the American Lung Association Lung Force Walk at Liberty Station’s NTC Park at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. And, if you or a loved one smoked, please visit savedbythescan.org today to learn if you may be at high risk for lung cancer. KobeJr, Dlongracing, 8meds and 1 other 4 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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